15/11/2019 - 10:18

Home comforts in new dongas

15/11/2019 - 10:18

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Two Perth builders have come up with more liveable and homely accommodation for fly-in, fly-out workers after more than 200 were surveyed.

Home comforts in new dongas
Errol Davies (left) and Louise Daniels helped to create the new dongas. Photos: Gabriel Oliveira

Two Perth builders have come up with more liveable and homely accommodation for fly-in, fly-out workers after more than 200 were surveyed.

The simple, beige donga has been reimagined to feature a double bed, spacious bathroom and blackout blinds in a bid to improve the mental health of fly-in, fly-out workers.

WA Mining Club Young Professionals surveyed 220 FIFO workers about their accommodation on mining sites.

Workers said they wanted larger bathrooms and shower heads, bigger comfortable beds and linen, improved acoustics for safety and privacy, a homely feel, blackout blinds and a bigger television.

Builders Grounded Construction and Modular WA used the feedback to design and build more home-like dongas, which were displayed at a WA Mining Club Young Professionals event last week.

Grounded Construction Group and Modular WA created two buildings with different rooms to show what could be achieved with varying levels of investment.

The first building showed what was possible in an existing four-room structure, with each room refurbished from incremental to significant change.

The second building has three larger rooms, which have been completely redesigned to include comfort, modern amenities and acoustic properties.

The redesign in the more luxurious dongas includes double beds.

Grounded Construction business development manager Louise Daniels said the company had aimed to create a home-like environment.

“The fact that you have a double bed instead of a single bed, and the bathrooms are laid out more spaciously because there is nothing worse than a stainless steel sink,” Ms Daniels said.

 “I think it is just the mental effect of going into a bigger, more spacious bathroom, (where) you’ve got somewhere in a cupboard to put your shampoo or your shaving gear or whatever it is.

“It’s about the space and it’s about the quality of the feel, the colour schemes even.

“It’s not the grey and pink and beige plastics they have through everything in a mine site.”

Modular WA director Errol Davies said that as well as being comfortable, the buildings needed to be fit for purpose.

“The equipment that goes into them needs to be robust, it needs to be able to be easily maintained,” Mr Davies said.

Grounded Construction managing director Paul Natoli said it was critical to take hard-earned lessons from previous remote community infrastructure and apply them, to ensure current and future workforces were able to live healthy, balanced lives, when they were away from their loved ones.

Feedback from FIFO workers suggested people wanted a more spacious bathroom.

In April, the state government released a code of practice to improve the mental health of FIFO workers, which included providing more welcoming accommodation to reduce stress, fatigue and loneliness.

Ms Daniels also pointed to the fact creating more liveable accommodation could assist with staff retention and save companies money in the long run.

Although Grounded Construction had created more modern dongas in the past, she said, this was an opportunity to make significant changes.

“Now the timing is right because they (mining companies) are looking at how they can improve the lifestyle, a home-like environment on site,” she said.

Ms Daniels said it would not necessarily cost more money to make a more homely environment for FIFO workers on site, just a bit of thought.

“It’s the same with the designs of the camps today, they need to think about them, not just stick them in doggy bank rows like a prison camp.”

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