Greater internet access for seafarers aboard ships will be a “mental health win” for workers at risk of suicide and away from family and friends over long periods, according to an industry leader. Seafarers national organiser Bernie Farrelly said the introduction of free WiFi on board iron ore carriers moving in and out of Port Hedland will bolster mental health outcomes for seafarers who are often at sea for over a year at a time. According to research by Yale University in 2019, one in five seafarers had thoughts of suicide or self harm over a study period of two weeks. He said new routers trialled on local ships would help seafarers cope with isolation, homesickness and mental health issues exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis. “It’s very special when you see seafarers getting some face time with their families after months at sea, it’s pretty emotional to be honest,” he said. “It’s fantastic that the seafarers moving the various cargoes day and night through Port Hedland can now keep in contact with their loved ones.” WIFI has been provided by Seafarer Connect and Port Hedland Shipping Agent Monson Agencies. The financial contributions by the industry stakeholders will allow the initiative to run for three years. Monson Agencies shipping company operation manager Rob Davis said he was excited at the opportunity to make workers feel closer to home. “We’re really pleased to team up with Seafarer Connect in providing such a simple and effective way for the seafarers who visit our shores to stay connected with their loved ones,” he said Seafarers are unable to purchase cheaper options such as SIM cards and other inexpensive communication equipment due to their distance and time away from the mainland.