Team hug for FIFO families in a time of COVID-19

Team hug for FIFO families in a time of COVID-19

With everything going on in the weird world of COVID-19, it’s time for a team hug for FIFO families.

We know you’re all incredibly resilient. Even at the best of times, FIFO families need strong coping mechanisms. You’ve learned how to keep in touch despite physical isolation. You know how to bunker down and just keep going when you’re a week into a four-week roster and already the going feels tough.

But we’re increasingly hearing about families saying goodbye to FIFO workers with no knowledge of when you might be back together. We’re hearing about borders closing, non-essential staff being told to stay home and airlines shutting down flights on a mass scale.

And all this comes on top of rapidly-changing scenarios in the everyday lives of all Australian families – and of course chaotic scenes of panic buying in supermarkets that do little to calm the sense of life being out of control.

At Mining Family Matters, we just want to remind everyone that we’re all in this together. And like we say about FIFO life generally, you’re not alone if you’re finding things tough. Here are a few things that have occurred to us in the past few days which might help, as well as sage advice offered over the past 10 years by our psychologists.

  • SET up group chats with family and friends (especially those who help you feel positive) on apps like Messenger, Viber and WhatsApp. You might need to help the older members of your family with this, but it will be so worth it once it’s set up.
  • TOUCH base with friends and family members who are prone to anxiety.
  • THINK how you can better set up your house (children’s rooms, garden etc) to help you all cope with being confined together for an extended perioud. For a list of ideas to fill 20 days of play for small children (from creating cardboard tambourines to lavender play dough) check out the Playgroup Victoria website
  • REMEMBER that kids of all ages thrive on routine. If and when they’re home from school (if they’re not already), set daily schedules and strong boundaries.
  • REMEMBER, too, that kids wear our anxiety. We know it’s hard, but try not to let them see or hear you being overly negative or fearful. Of course it’s important that you don’t bottle all this up – just try to keep the kids out of earshot.
  • WHEN Australia was gripped by the devastation of the Queensland floods, our MFM psychologist Angie Willcocks wrote that the best antidote for feelings of hopelessness is to do something. Donate money. Engage in random acts of kindness. Volunteer to help someone in your community. Do your bit to keep Australia calm.
  • PRIORITISE healthy eating and getting enough sleep.
  • DON’T sweat the small stuff. When you’re angry about an individual issue, ask yourself “will I remember this argument/issue in a month’s time?” If not, try not to let it worry you now.
  • AVOID generalising (i.e. stick to the individual issue instead of saying things like “you NEVER pick up after yourself”) or catastrophising (i.e. again stick to the issue at hand instead of blowing up with comments like “you don’t love me” or “we’re not meant to be together”) while arguing.
  • TRY to make time for yourself.
  • DON’T fall into the trap of thinking alcohol is your friend. It’s actually a depressant.
  • AND above all, be kind to yourself and those you love.

It is important that we are mindful, as a community, of keeping an eye on each other in the weeks and months to come.
Beyond Blue ( has more information and resources to assist you with any concerns about how you, or your friends and family are coping.

The best FIFO families know this lifestyle is a team sport – so consider this your virtual team hug!

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