Helen and Steve Howard keep in touch regularly when he’s working away.
Helen and Steve Howard keep in touch regularly when he’s working away. Jenna Cairney

Dad has no regrets

FAMILY, friends, neighbours and herbal tea help Warwick's Helen Howard make it through the two weeks her husband Steve works away from home.

Regular communication and his 14 days on, 14 days off shifts keep family life ticking over, but of course with three children to look after, it's not always easy.

"It is hard when he's away, it just gets very busy," Mrs Howard said.

"But we talk a lot on the phone and I have great support from our family.

"If they weren't living here it would be a lot more difficult."

The Howards are part of a growing trend of Rose City families who have at least one member working at the mines.

"I know a lot of friends in the same situation," Mrs Howard said.

"Though we aren't too bad, one of my friend's husband works in Western Australia; that would be hard."

Instead of fly-in, fly-out work, Mr Howard does drive-in, drive-out to the Surat Basin, where he's a construction leading hand.

The driving is included as company time and as far as him employers go, Mr Howard has no complaints.

"I get holidays and Christmas off," he said.

"We have a self-contained unit each and it's amazing how they look after us."

Mr Howard worked in transport previously and was a boiler maker with engineering experience.

He said he saw the mining industry take off and thought that's where he should be.

He's had significant training, especially in IT, and has no intentions of giving it up.

"I've always worked away from home but now I'm two weeks off and two weeks on, I spend half the year at home, which is great," he said.

"When I'm back I get to take the kids to school and see them play sport."

The children are happy growing up in Warwick and Mr Howard is pleased to see the Rose City reap benefits from the nearby boom.

"Warwick's just close enough to get a nibble," he said.


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