The Families Behind the Mines

Monique Montfroy

Queensland College of Art, Griffith University

The Families Behind the Mines: The Bridgemans
Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia
By Monique Montfroy
Veiw of the street and suburbia where the Bridgeman family lives.
After a long day at work, Judy pulls into the driveway, the garage door opens electronically and the silhouette of Robís Chevrolet concealed by a car cover is another reminder of his absence. Judy manages a retail store five days a week to occupy herself while Rob, her partner of twenty years, is away working and the kids are at school or out with their friends. Robyn Bridgeman has been flying in and out of the Pilbara mines in Western Australia for 18 years. When Rob is not working in the mines instructing over 500 men, he is at home on the Gold Coast.

The Australian mining industry equates to 55 percent of the total goods exported from Australia (in 2010-11) and is the fourth-largest contributor to Australiaís Gross Domestic Product. Aside from common discussions regarding wages, environment and living conditions, little research has been done in regards to the families of miners. Especially families of fly in fly out (FIFO) or drive in drive out (DIDO) miners, and the impacts that this has on relationships.

Rob and Judy have three children, Trae (19), Jordan (18) and Robyn (14). Working three weeks on one week off, Rob misses many occasions in his childrenís lives including birthdays, Father's Day and Christmas. While Rob is away, Judy is forced to control life at home, balancing her full time job and her childrenís everyday schedules. Judy wakes up and vacuums the house every morning before getting ready for work and waking Robyn for school. Judy clocks on at 9:00 a.m. and clocks off from work at 5:30 p.m. Often she arrives home to her daughter Robyn in her room watching TV and on her laptop whilst lying in bed. Rob cooks big home-style meals for the family when he is home. Usually it is a roast with potatoes, pumpkins, peas and greens. This is a stark alternative to the jam on toast t