FIFO Research Recommendations Snubbed by Federal Minister

FIFO Research Recommendations Snubbed by Federal Minister

Thursday 4 July 2013

It appears that the Federal Government has rejected key components of the recently completed Parliamentary Inquiry into impacts of Fly-in Fly-out (FIFO), especially the strong recommendation that more research be conducted into the practice as soon as possible.


In a letter from the Minister for Health and Medical Research Tanya Plibersek to the Chairman of the Committee that inquired into FIFO, Tony Windsor MP, the Minister maintains that there doesn’t need to be any special research program. The letter to the Minister was written by Mr Windsor following a meeting with the AMA (WA) where it was argued that research was a vital component to tackling the impact of FIFO, needed especially to assess the health impacts on the FIFO workforce.


The Inquiry took evidence from regional towns and centres across Australia for more than 12 months, with the AMA (WA) contributing through written and oral submissions.


The Association found that there was a significant dearth in research and statistics on the health impact of the FIFO lifestyle, and affirmed that $15 million was needed over three years to undertake detailed research across Australia to provide a comprehensive health policy response addressing the needs of our FIFO workers.


Ms Plibersek thanked Mr Windsor for his representations on behalf of Dr Choong, however she advised that, “For Dr Choong’s request, the NHMRC Partnerships for Better Health – Partnership Projects may be an appropriate scheme for researchers to consider for funding support for this research.”


“It is a travesty that the Minister for Medical Research has ignored the overwhelming proof that additional funding and separate and in-depth research is needed on the health impacts of the FIFO lifestyle,” AMA (WA) President Dr Richard Choong said.


“Despite the huge amount of effort by a number of organisations and a plethora of oral and written submissions from all over Australia, Minister Plibersek has stated that researchers should look at the National Health Medical Research Council (NHMRC) for funding.


“Our own research into the health impacts of FIFO, which were presented to the Committee, were extremely worrying. We were pleased when our view was backed so strongly by the bi-partisan parliamentary inquiry. However, the Minister’s reply indicates that the whole report will probably be quietly shelved,” Dr Choong said.


“To have an area of health with such an impact on the lives of almost 3000,000 Australians and their families is shameful. We will wait for the Government’s reaction to the recommendations with interest but we don’t hold out much hope for substantial take up the proposals.”


“However we will continue to lobby for the health impacts of FIFO to be recognised as an important and growing issue,” Dr Choong said.


To see the AMA (WA) submissions set before the Inquiry, please click here

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