FIFO tenants largely happy with 'donga' accommodation

A new report has found that a majority of Fly In Fly Out (FIFO) tenants rate their 'mining camp' or 'donga' accommodation fairly highly, with very few looking to move into private rentals.

The report, created by the University of Queensland, the Centre for Social Responsibility in Mining and the Minerals Industry Safety & Health Centre, found 63% of respondents rating their current accommodation as 'good' or 'very good' with just 7% looking to move from camp accommodation to a town rental.

The majority of those surveyed, 91%, were located on-site in employer-provided accommodation. Another 6% were in employer-provided accommodation in other nearby towns, with a final 3% in 'other' accommodation.

Two-thirds of survey participants did argue that they would like a change in their accommodation, despite being largely happy with it. This saw 30% wanting to move to accommodation with better services and facilities and 25% wanting a room upgrade.

Standard facilities provided in the accommodation included air-conditioning, ensuite bathrooms, room cleaning, laundry facilities and a mess.

Private rooms with TV/video connections were highly valued, as well as sleeping quarters distanced from communal areas, as well as black-out curtains provided to minimise sleep disturbance. Hot-bedding was seen as the most adverse situation.

These results were used to note that there were a range of other reasons contributing to 44% of miners suggesting they intend to change jobs over the next 12 months. This included a desire for better pay, greater work-life balance and career advancement.

"While the characteristics of FIFO facilities vary considerably from camp to camp, depending on such factors as the nature and location of the operation, the age of the camp, and the requirements of the company or operator involved, thereis evidence of a move to more sophisticated design elements in modern FIFO accommodation," the report notes.

"Earlier temporary accommodation was basic, with the facility typically located on the mine lease or construction site. These camps were sometimes ‘closed’ facilities that were both physically and socially isolated from the nearest residential community. While such camps still operate, more recently, there have been significant changes in the design and location of FIFO worker accommodation, with a greater range of facilities on offer and, in some cases, efforts to incorporate modern FIFO villages into existing residential communities."

This changing face of the accommodation was put down to three factors: An interest in facilitating retention of workers, a better understanding of attitudes towards the FIFO lifestyle and a growing need for companies operating in the resources sector to address criticisms by local residents that traditional worker villages were detrimental to the area.

Within the survey, 286 FIFO workers currently employed in Australia's resource sector were questioned. The report also included a literature review. Of survey participants, 70% had a university degree, 58% were male, with the average age being 35, and three quarters having partners. 

Almost three quarters of respondents earned over $100,000 per annum, with 53% located in Western Australia.

Jennifer Duke

Jennifer Duke

Jennifer Duke was a property writer at Property Observer

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