Women's refuges have reported a surge in demand from the abused partners of men who are fly-in, fly-out workers or employed on working visas.

Women's refuges have reported a surge in demand from the abused partners of men who are fly-in, fly-out workers or employed on working visas.

Angela Hartwig, from the Women's Council for Domestic and Family Violence Services, said there had been a marked increase in women with partners on skilled migration or temporary work visas who were seeking help because of domestic violence. She said FIFO families were an "emerging issue".

One of Perth's biggest women's refuges, run by the Salvation Army, said FIFO work was having a significant effect on family relationships and in some cases led to domestic violence. An even bigger problem was related to men coming into Australia on working visas.

Spokesman Warren Palmer said the Graceville refuge, which can take up to 40 women and children a day, was having to deal with many frightening and complex cases involving distressed women and children.

"Much of what is seen currently relates to the stream of people coming into Australia on working visas working in a variety of roles being professional, skilled or unskilled," he said.

There were often lifestyle changes for families which, coupled with unusual working patterns, caused relationship problems.

"We are seeing an increase in the type of cases where women and children seek to escape domestic violence, with many being recent arrivals in Australia," he said. "They often feel isolated, not knowing who to turn to for help."

Mr Palmer expected cases of domestic violence and the breakdown of relationships to place services under growing pressure.

The Australian Medical Association said the trends highlighted how changing work patterns and the use of foreign workers who were not properly supported could spill over into marital problems and domestic abuse.

WA president Richard Choong said many people chased the high wages of FIFO work but some did not appreciate the social impact.

"There are circumstances where FIFO workers come back and demand certain things of their partners and if that's not met, there can be a lot of frustrations that spill out," he said.

Dr Choong said mining companies had a responsibility to do more to support workers and families.

For help, phone the Women's Domestic Violence Helpline 1800 007 339.

The West Australian

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