When you’re thousands of kilometres away from your family, a quick call to say ‘goodnight’ can be shattered by the no signal symbol flashing up on your mobile phone.
The difficulties of FIFO work has been the talk of the mining industry in recent months, with more and more workers succumbing to depression and other mental illnesses, unable to cope with being away from their loved ones.
FIFO mine worker Tim Woodgate, and his partner Chantal, know all-too-well the struggle of the FIFO life, and they say communication restrictions are one of the biggest problems.
“My partner and I have experienced the long rosters, time away from each other and sometimes with no contact for days due to not having phone reception,” Tim said.
“But, due to me taking days to get to and from sites, on average I would only get to spend about five nights per month with our son. This is a very common story for other fly-in fly-out workers.”
After looking at ways to make the time apart from one another a notch easier and finding a dead end, the idea for mobile phone app GiftBox was born.
“While I was working away, my partner Chantal, began looking for different ways to make the time away from each other easier. She didn’t find anything to help, which led her to doing a lot of thinking about how there has to be another way of communication between us, even without phone reception,” he said.
“The majority of the camps I have stayed at experienced a lack of phone reception mostly at night as all of the other workers were trying to call their families at the same time.
“This made contact difficult at night when I wanted to talk to my family the most.
“So, she decided to create an App that would make the hard times easier; an App that could let partners get pictures and messages from family when they want to hear from loved ones the most.”
Giftbox allows images and messages to be sent and received to and from loved ones, without phone reception.
“Contact from loved ones when you least expect them truly are the best surprises, especially when you’re far away and isolated,” Tim said.
Tim and Chantal are now trying to get the app produced for FIFO industry workers and their families.
“The FIFO lifestyle has one of the highest divorce rates of any profession, and unfortunately it has become no secret that it can lead to suicide,” Tim said.
“Being away from loved ones, especially for long periods of time, is the number one anxiety that FIFO workers suffer. It is time we start doing something about it.”
The app isn’t just restricted to FIFO families, Tim said, the couple are hoping to also get GiftBox on the phones of those in the Army, Navy and Air Force, as well as any other situations where time is spent apart.
Tim and Chantal have started a crowd-funding campaign online to help them raise money to get the app developed as soon as possible.
“We have had great feedback from mining companies and groups on where this idea can go… But the biggest hurdle we are facing at the moment is early stage funding,” Tim said.
“Every little bit of money can and will help, however we are also just as grateful to the people that share the campaign along on their chosen social media hub.
“My partner and I have experienced the depression of being away from loved ones first-hand. We understand and want to help all families ultimately all over the world that are going through the same thing. GiftBox really is for any family, anywhere, anytime.”
Click here to find out how you can help get GiftBox off the ground.