‘Appiness is a connected parent

Posted October 22, 2015


Screen shots from the Quality Time app.

Want to read your children a bedtime story from 2000km away or help mates sync their social life with your FIFO commitments?

There’s an app for that - of course.

A burgeoning number of smartphone and tablet apps are targeting FIFO workers and their families, offering ways to stay connected from remote work sites and keep on top of rosters.

One recent example is the Quality Time app, which allows users to purchase picture books that can be read from afar using screen sharing and an audio platform.

The concept was sparked when Queensland engineer Steven Nicholson was working in Port Hedland and received a phone call from his daughter back home saying she would like a bedtime story, according to Chris Braine, one of the four Quality Time founders.

People working away from home were a natural target market, Mr Braine said, but the app would help loved ones share quality time with children through stories in any situation where they were apart, including cases where parents were separated. (http://www.qualitytime.com.au/)

Workaway Storybook, originated by Perth mum Kirsten Drummond, allows families to create a personalised storybook by uploading photos and adding voice recordings.

“My partner works offshore (on gas rigs) and has done since before we had kids. When kids enter the equation it puts a whole different spin on things,” she said.

Her app, launched in July, helps children understand what the absent parent is doing and where they are at different times of day through images such as pictures of the workplace, meals room and sleeping quarters.

“My youngest son is three and a half and he will say at night ‘is daddy sleeping in his bunk bed now?’ - he can visualise that,” Mrs Drummond said.

“You can put your own photos in the book and change them whenever you like.” (http://workawaystorybook.com/)

Another example is the Home2You App designed by military families advocate Brie Backo and directed at any families separated by employment, military service or personal circumstance.

Ms Backo said the app was designed to allow families to create special messages, memories and milestones that could be treasured during times away.

It includes a countdown feature to help children check on how many days are left until mum or dad is home again. (www.home2youapp.com)

The One Minute Closer mobile app for iPhone and Android promises group chat capability as well as helping remote workers to manage and share their roster and keep family and friends up to date on expected arrival times back at home base. (http://oneminutecloser.com.au/)

A raft of apps has been released targeting roster management and sharing for workers including FIFOapp, iFifo and the FIFO RnR app, allowing users to upload and update schedules and to help co-ordinate time off with mates.

Mining Family Matters founder and director Alicia Ranford said there had been a noticeable rise in apps targeting FIFO families, in line with a general growth in products and services in the area including picture books and calendars.

Her organisation often drew the attention of companies and families to apps that may be useful in keeping workers connected with loved ones and mates, she said.

“Anything that helps connect people whilst they are away to their support network at home is a fantastic thing,” she said.

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