CASHING in on the mining boom with a fly-in fly-out job might reap financial benefit but a psychologist says the hidden emotional costs may not be so well understood.
Professor Paula Brough, director of the Social and Organisational Psychology Research Unit at Griffith University, said people considering working at mine sites may not be aware of the potential psychological risk to their health.
"The financial rewards of working in these environments are a strong draw for many but we have heard of many cases of people who have found that the disadvantages can outweigh the benefits," Prof Brough said.
"Often employers on the traditional fly-in fly-out rosters can suffer from feelings of isolation in being so far away from their family and everyday community.
"They often lack the support of their usual networks, daily routines and daily contact with families.
"Likewise the partners and families of mining sector workers can have similar negative feelings, with wives often having to care for children alone and children missing out on frequent contact with one of their parents."
Although no specific research has so far been conducted by the Griffith Unit, Professor Brough said she had heard via third parties of the negative emotional toll that this type of employment could take.
For many there was an end point.
"It seems that the two-year mark is a significant benchmark when the situation starts to wear on employees and they decide the financial gain is not worth the emotional strain," Prof Brough said.
"Quality of life seems to win the day in the end for a lot of stressed workers."
Prof Brough said her research had shown that many mine workers tended to return to their communities in "significant numbers" when the local employment options improved.
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