Queensland inquiry hands down FIFO recommendations

A Queensland parliamentary committee has handed down a raft of recommendations aimed at improving conditions for fly-in fly-out workers on resources projects.

Queensland’s Infrastructure, Planning and Natural Resources Committee published its findings today after a six month inquiry into the health, wellbeing and financial impact of FIFO workers.

The 19 recommendations included calls for a review of all resources projects approval processes in an effort to enforce social impact obligations on proponent firms, strengthening compliance resources to ensure companies abide by their social impact obligations and EIS, and additional powers and access for local governments to dictate housing conditions for FIFO village communities.

Recommendation 7 states: The committee recommends the Queensland Government assist local governments to undertake additional compliance checking relating to temporary accommodation villages to determine whether any villages are operating outside of their conditions of approval.

In addition to the strengthened oversight, the committee recommended better room design providing protection from noise and light, permanent private spaces for each employee, reliable access to communication services, access to health services, including social activities and gyms and a variety of healthy food options.

FIFO workers could also find themselves provided more mental health services on-site after the inquiry called on the Queensland Government to investigate options for providing the service.

In addition to the mental health service, the government has been urged to identify “characteristics that promote resilience within FIFO workers”, programs that prevent mental health injuries, family support programs, and assist in preventing or identifying the presence of suicide risk.

Finally, the committee called for changes to the state’s Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 to include location as a prohibited ground of discrimination.

Committee chair Jim Pearce, said evidence had suggested that when Caval Ridge and Daunia mines were approved, job security across the region dissolved.

“It is clear to me that this inquiry has demonstrated the need for all resource companies to proactively demonstrate their social licence to operate which would start with ending ‘postcode discrimination’,” he wrote in the final report.

However the finding have angered the Australian Mines and Metals Association (AMMA), which labelled the recommendations as “over the top”, and claimed that over regulation on FIFO worker accommodation and wellbeing could stifle the industry’s ability to operate.

“The reality is Queensland’s resource industry isn’t as competitive as it used to be, so simply imposing more regulation on the way resource companies manage their workforces would drive even more potential Queensland resource jobs offshore,” AMMA executive director – policy and public affairs, Scott Barklamb said.

“Queensland resource companies take their social licence to operate very seriously, with many already investing in comprehensive recruitment, training and apprenticeship programs to source skills from local communities.

“Providing employees with a choice of where they live for work sounds fine in principle, but in practice the proposal would give rise to unwarranted lawsuits across Queensland workplaces, not just those in the resource industry.”

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