Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Daily (Maroochydore, Australia)

Dad Felt the Guilt

Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Daily (Maroochydore, Australia)

Dad Felt the Guilt

Article excerpt

HELPING with homework, volunteering at his daughter's prep class, and taking the kids to sport are not chores for Rick Hawkett.

They are pleasures the Aroona dad has missed out on too often for the past two years.

Rick, 49, has just finished a stint working four weeks on, one week off as a diesel fitter, on a pipeline project in central Queensland.

Working away was the only way that he and his wife, Lana, 35, felt they could get a home of their own and get ahead in the face of spiralling living costs on the Sunshine Coast.

"There's not a lot of work left here that pays anything," Rick said.

"If you've got a mortgage to pay, and kids to put through school, who want to play sport, it either comes to a point where you've got to travel to Brisbane or you go away to keep a roof over their heads."

Rick had two photos - one of his kids, Caillin, 22, Neena, 14, Declan, 12, Breean, 8, and Keeva, 5, and the other of him and Lana on their wedding day - beside his bed for motivation while he was away.

But while he was working for them, he also experienced feelings of guilt that he was not at home for them.

"You spend all that time away from home. You don't see your kids, you don't get to help them with their homework, you're not there for sports days, anniversaries," he said.

Lana, who was at home juggling their children with the help of her mother, who lives nearby, also felt guilty about the situation.

The enormity of the sacrifice her husband was making on their behalf hit her after she took the kids to visit him and drove past the dongas which were the workers' quarters.

"I was in tears most of the way home. I felt so guilty that we were here and that's where he was living," she admitted.

Rick, who worked for 12 hours a day or more while he was away, said it was often a process or readjustment - putting work aside and finding his place in his family - when he came home. …

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