Construction Hunter sat down for a chat with Deanne Hislop, the founder and Director of My Fifo Family. Deanne is a FIFO mum of two young children and has been living the lifestyle for 3 years.
What is My Fifo Family?
“My Fifo Family provides working away families and corporate companies with resources to help children and families better adapt to the working away lifestyle. We believe that becoming a working away family can be a positive, rewarding and sustainable lifestyle choice for families and work to support a number of not for profits that support this view, donating to organisations that support the mental health and wellbeing of the worker and their families”.
What were you trying to achieve when you started My Fifo Family?
“During my time managing a family centre in the Pilbara I heard tale after tale of how the FIFO lifestyle tears families apart and can be damaging on young children – a great deal of which was coming from people who had never actually tried the FIFO lifestyle.
Despite knowing that we had chosen the best we could for our family (my husband working FIFO), I was still living in a world of guilt, exasperated by my then two year old crying every time Dad was home on R&R and would leave his sight. He wasn’t able to understand that Dad wasn’t leaving yet.
I could see that leaving for work was becoming harder and harder on my husband. The breaking point for me was when my three year old daughter asked what daddy’s other family looked like. In hindsight I suppose this was a very “normal” question for a three year old to ask. But it pulled on my heart strings and made me question if this whole lifestyle was all worth it.
I searched everywhere for resources that I could use to help my children better understand the lifestyle and why Dad was not physically around and found nothing. It was at that point that I decided to create my own, with the goal to be able to give my children an understanding of where Dad goes to work what he does and that he will always come back and alleviate the worry and sadness my family felt each time my husband went back to work .
Within a month of using my own resources my children had adapted so much better to the lifestyle. As I looked around at many other FIFO Families it opened my eyes to the realisation that it really can be a great lifestyle for families with young children. It was at that point that I decided commit to providing other families with resources that would help them make the lifestyle a positive experience.
In August 2012 My Fifo Family, a profit for purpose organisation was born with the vision to provide families with child/family friendly products that not only help children understand the lifestyle and reduce stress from the parents but keep families better connected”.
What have been your main obstacles?
“By far the hardest obstacle was making people and companies aware that the products existed! I spent countless days/nights trying to find the right contact person to speak to in each company; however we are finally at a stage where most companies within the resources sector are aware of what we do and are very receptive to our products and understand what we are trying to achieve within the industry.”
Have you been surprised by how much My Fifo Family has grown?
“I wouldn’t say that I have been surprised by the growth of the organisation and its achievements but I have been completely overwhelmed by the response and support from families and companies. I never knew that it would turn out to be so personally rewarding”.
What separates My Fifo Family from similar sites?
“My Fifo Family is about making an impact at grass roots level. We believe that investing in helping families’ better cope with the lifestyle is not only benefiting today’s employees but generations to come. Donating funds to provide free “parents working away” workshops, subsidising mental health workshops and even supplying books to remote indigenous communities, I think it’s fair to say that we are here to make a difference and not a fast buck”.
What exciting plans do you have for the company at present and in the future?
“We are currently launching our 2015 Stay connected calendar and products, which we are very excited about. Over the past two years I have spoken with many families in regards to ways that parents can feel better connected, especially with young children when away. With so many Dads confiding that it really upsets them when the children don’t want to talk on the phone when they are away and that they feel as though they need to reconnect with their children at the beginning of each R&R, we feel that our 2015 calendar especially is going to help so many families.
I really hope that over the next 10 years My Fifo Family can really break down some myths about the lifestyle and help parents to lose the guilt surrounding it. As we are a Perth based company I would like to see a QLD branch and be in a position to provide even more workshops and resources to families”.
What can you tell us about your own experiences?
“The best moments are definitely being able to spend 6 days together as a family. The little things like watching my hubby do parent helper at school. I guess I am very grateful for what I have in life.
With three horses, dogs, young kids a business and studying on top, to say that there haven’t been crazy moments would be an understatement. All I can say is that the universe works in weird ways and for some reason things always go wrong when hubby is away.
My Fifo Family works alongside Ngala – Parenting with Confidence, OzHelp Foundation, Aboriginal Literacy Foundation, and a number of smaller not for profit organisations, schools and child health facilities, providing services and financial support for their communities.
by Sarah Frendo