Tyrone toughs it out for his family

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Peter SweeneyGeraldton Guardian
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Bags packed and heading north. Tyrone Papertalk at Geraldton airport pre his flight back to the mines.
Camera IconBags packed and heading north. Tyrone Papertalk at Geraldton airport pre his flight back to the mines. Credit: Peter Sweeney, Geraldton Guardian

Short-term pain for long-term gain — that’s how Tyrone Papertalk views his job.

It hurts being away from his family — especially with three of his five children still in school — but he envisions the end result.

“I’m looking at another 10 years of this and then we should be financially stable,” Mr Papertalk, a fly-in, fly-out worker, said.

The well-respected indigenous man is a husband and father of five children, aged between eight and 23.

He has been a FIFO worker for the past five years, presently working on a mine site at Cape Preston, south of Karratha.

He has a two-week on and one-week off roster, working 121/2-hour shifts for seven days and then seven nights. When returning to work from Geraldton, he flies to Perth and then connects with a charter flight to the mine site, where he is a machine operator.

“This is my life,” he said when checking into the domestic terminal at Geraldton.

“If I was going straight on to a shift when I got back I would have to be wearing a uniform. But I don’t resume until tomorrow so I can dress casually on the trip back.

“It’s hard and there are things you miss out on, like special occasions for family. You have to be physically and mentally strong to work in the mines.

“My goal is to become a digger and shovel operator with better pay and conditions, like working shifts, but that’s up to me.

“Why am I doing this? I’m doing it because I am aiming for better opportunities for myself and a better lifestyle for my family.

“If I put my pennies in the right place and get the right financial advice, then it should work out. I want my children to be well educated and have better opportunities.

“I do have a picture of where we want to be heading.”

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