Communities where many fly-in, fly-out workers live are not getting the full benefits of the resources boom when they return home, a new report says.
Groundbreaking WA research also says long distance commuting does not necessarily cause drug and alcohol abuse, marriage break-ups or domestic violence but can aggravate them.
The Curtin University research from the Co-operative Research Centre for Remote Economic Participation says most FIFO families cope well with the career, willing to sacrifice time away from home for higher pay.
The impact FIFO has on remote mining communities has come under much scrutiny with claims it hollows out towns and is "a cancer of the bush".
But the researchers say this is the first examination of the other side of FIFO to assess effects on the areas that provide these workers. They concentrated on Mandurah and Busselton because a significant number of FIFO workers live there.
Co-author Fiona McKenzie said a lot of money flowed into a high-paid miner's hometown but not a lot of it stayed there. It was often soaked up by big mortgages and holidays away.
A lot of the income also went to Bunbury because it had more shops than Busselton, where resentment between "haves" and "have nots" was emerging.
One gripe of FIFO workers was they believed some businesses charged them a "high-vis vest" premium, such as for car servicing, because they presumed they could afford it.
"A couple of businesses sheepishly admitted that maybe it happened," Professor McKenzie said.
A growing concern was that FIFO towns were vulnerable to the mining boom-bust cycle.
She said FIFO families were just like any other but their social problems could worsen more quickly. Despite criticism FIFO workers did not give back to towns they worked in, such as volunteering or playing sport, researchers found no definitive evidence of lower participation rates.
Professor McKenzie said many were happy to give their time and use their skills learnt at mines.
But service providers cited more school truancy and lack of parental involvement in sport.Many activities and services were also geared around 9-5 work.