When a Non-resident Worker is a Non-resident Parent: Investigating the Family Impact of Fly-In, Fly-Out Work Practices in Australia
Non-resident work practices, which involve prolonged separations from family, long-distance commuting between home and remote work sites and long work hours across compressed rosters, are now commonplace in Australia. This study examined the impact of these work arrangements, often termed Fly-In/Fly-Out (FIFO), on children and families, and to identify family-related and employment-related factors that influence child and family outcomes. Anonymous online surveys containing measures of family and couple relationship quality, child behavioral and emotional adjustment, parenting and personal adjustment were completed by 232 partners of FIFO workers, 46 FIFO workers, and a comparison group of community parents (N = 294 mothers, N = 36 fathers). There were no differences between FIFO partners and community parents on family or couple relationship quality, parenting competence and child behavioral or emotional difficulties. FIFO partners reported higher levels of personal emotional problems and greater usage of harsh discipline practices than community mothers, while FIFO workers reported greater work to family conflict and alcohol use than community fathers. Regression analyses on the FIFO partners sample indicated that child and family functioning were best predicted by family factors, including harsh parenting and parental emotional adjustment. Implications of the findings for the design and provision of family-based support for FIFO families are discussed.