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Craig Foster wins 2022 Father of the Year Award

Human rights activist, former Socceroo captain and father of three Craig Foster, AM, has been named Australian Father of the Year for 2022.

Craig was recognised for his mentoring and coaching with young people, in particular Afghan migrants. The response to Craig’s Award was celebrated across mainstream media channels in Australia, including national news outlets and high-rating shows like ‘The Project’ on Channel 10.

“Being Father’s Day this week, the most important thing is to shine a light on the importance of all fathers, father figures, mentors, role models and sport coaches.

“Many of them wouldn’t realise the incredible impact that they have - either directly or intentionally or inadvertently - on young people in their vicinity.

“Male mentors and role models in young girls and boys are incredibly important for their self-image, for their physical and mental health, for their academic achievement, for all of those life outcome indicators, it’s really, really important.”

The Awards, presented for the first time by the Fathering Project, also recognised Rick Pekan as Community Father of the Year. Rick, from Perth, and his wife, Louise, have four children and have cared for over 50 foster children.

Rick was nominated for a Fathering Award as “a patient and flexible father, who envelopes the complexities of being a father to children of various ages and takes them within his stride, while helping other fathers and parents on their journeys.”

Rick spends time coaching other dads, particularly foster dads on their own journeys. 

“I did have a dad growing up,” said Rick. “He cared for many of my needs, he cared for my financial needs, he was always the person who took care of me and made sure things were alright. But I didn’t have a strong emotional connection with him.”

Rick said he had many father figures in his life who invested in him and empowered him to serve in the community. “I’m a true example of the impact that father figures have made. Not my biological dad per se, but I had father figures who were always there for me.

“I see the value of good father figures around other people, particularly around children and young people.”

Isaac Thomas was named Australian Sports Father of The Year and created a “Tryathon” 10 years ago, which changed the culture of a public high school and got the local community raising funds for kids less fortunate, while galvanising kids, families and teachers around one event. “You can do it – just try,” says the father of five daughters.

As well as coaching the South Perth Lions, Isaac also champions a Rugby League Program which teaches kids life skills. “I believe it’s really important for children to see their fathers as heroes and see their fathers as role models,” he says. “As a father you have an opportunity to show them strength, but also subtlety, allow them to make mistakes and still feel safe enough to do so.

“It’s important for fathers to step up in that role as much as they can.”

The fourth Awards category was for Australia’s Best Workplace for Fathers, which went to KPMG. KPMG’s hybrid flexible working model allows all employees to work where it makes sense for them on that day, whether that is at home, the office or on client sites. This approach helps form a bridge between work and family life for employees. 

They have a market leading parental leave policy, offering 26 weeks paid parental leave for all parents, which can be used flexibly within 24 months from birth or the time a child joins their family. 

View all 2022 Australian Fathering Award Winners

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