Kate Brodie with son Hank, 9 months and daughter Abbey, 2 ½ says communicating openly with her husband Michael, who works away, is the key to a happy family.
Kate Brodie with son Hank, 9 months and daughter Abbey, 2 ½ says communicating openly with her husband Michael, who works away, is the key to a happy family. Lee Constable

Woman pens mining survival guide

ALICIA Ranford has moved six times in the last 12 years, raised two children and seen many marriages crumble under the strain of living apart.

We often hear about the upside of the mining industry but the downside is the long hours spent away, a lack of communication and isolation that causes broken families in our region.

That’s why Ms Ranford has written The Survival Guide for Mining Families, a 32-page book which features professional advice from a registered psychologist. It includes everything from children’s behavioural issues to conflict and sex.

The guide is aimed at helping families cope with fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) or drive-in, drive-out (DIDO) lifestyles.

Glenella mum-of-two Kate Brodie says her family has worked out how to overcome the difficulties faced with her husband Michael being away in Tieri five days at a time.

The couple has two young children Abbey, 2, and Hank, 9 months.

“Michael misses the kids a lot when he is away however he says when he is home, he’s home for four or five days straight and can spend a good amount of quality time with them,” she said.

“Some days I wish he could just come home and help but on the most part it’s good.

“Absence makes the heart grow fonder.”

However, Ms Brodie said there was no denying families often jumped into the mining lifestyle without realising how difficult it was.

“It’s not for everybody,” Ms Brodie said.

“Some people think ‘yeah, this will be great my husband will earn heaps of money’ but there is a big responsibility placed on your shoulders as a mother and I think a lot of people aren’t really prepared for that.”

Ms Brodie said she was lucky to have grown up in a mining family and has learnt how to deal with the challenges early.

Although she says as a wife and mother, it can be difficult.

“The biggest challenge is probably when the kids are sick or when I’m sick,” she said.

“It’s hard to make weekly commitments or social and sporting commitments.”

The Brodie family copes by communicating, speaking to Michael on the phone when he is away and setting house rules.

“I’m lucky that I have a husband who will come home and take the kids and allow me a day for myself.”

Ms Ranford said families faced a real need for advice and that was where the book would help.

“There’s not enough information out there and with FIFO growing in popularity, the need for information is increasing,” Ms Ranford said.

The Survival Guide is being targeted at mining companies for distribution as an “induction tool” for new and existing employees.

Some of the topics covered include setting house rules and keeping them, discipline of children, tips for mining mums working away and sex.

“Differing libidos is a big issue in most long-term relationships and FIFO couples are no different except there’s the added pressure of being apart,” Ms Ranford said.

“It is very important to sustain the connection even when away from each other.”

But she said shift work and relationships can work.

“Choose to see the positives and find ways to make the lifestyle work for you and your family.”

Regional Social Development Centre’s business development co-ordinator Deb Rae said mining families could often run into trouble if they weren’t prepared for challenges.

“Families can struggle if they have different expectations about how they spend their time when the worker is off roster and returns to the family,” she said.

“There are sometimes unrealistic expectations about working in the mining industry, and families need to know exactly what it will mean for them.”

Ms Rae said it was important for people to understand the impact of the mining lifestyle and think about who it will affect in the relationship.

“They need to consider how it will impact on their relationship and children, what changes they will have to make, and if they are willing and able to accept that.”

Ms Rae said the new book will prove useful for many families in the region, with a large number of FIFO or DIDO employees in Mackay.

For more information visit www.miningfm.com.au.


Set house rules: “Agree on a realistic list of jobs that needs doing around the house on the days you’re together.”

Are you making excuses about sex? “It is very important to sustain the connection even when away from each other. You need to find ways to feel connected when apart.”

Help kids cope with FIFO or DIDO: “Never talk about mum or dad ‘going away’ or ‘leaving’. It should always be mum or dad is ‘going to work’.”

Agree on keeping the same parenting styles and discipline. Create a list of family rules and apply them all the time.

Relocation: Explain to your children why you are moving and show them pictures and maps of your new town and home.

INXS band manager Chris Murphy dies

Premium Content INXS band manager Chris Murphy dies

Chris Murphy dies suddenly at 66

Child approach: Police praise girl’s bravery

Premium Content Child approach: Police praise girl’s bravery

The man has been placed on strict conditional bail

Tribute to local world champion unveiled

Premium Content Tribute to local world champion unveiled

You can interact with the installation with the river as a backdrop