2021 marked a big year for the Fathering Project, who reached more than 340,000 fathers and father figures across Australia with its programs and services.
“Despite less than a decade passing, the world feels like it has changed dramatically with even more challenges facing us, including excessive screen time, cyberbullying and a host of social and cultural issues,” states founder Dr Brian Robinson in the 2020-2021 Annual Report.
“We’re seeing even more fathers and father figures struggling, often alone, to fulfil the joys, challenges and responsibilities of parenthood.
“The Fathering Project has also changed, adapting our unique programs to address this growing community need and reflect the globally expanding evidence base and interest in fathering issues.”
The Report states that fathers who are more engaged and involved in parenting have:
Children with fewer emotional and behavioural problems
Children with better language development
Children with better life and social skills
Children with fewer problems with peers
Increased NAPLAN scores across year 3, 5 and 7
Children with fewer difficulties adjusting to school and improved academic progress
Children who are less likely to engage in delinquent behaviours
Children with a lower sexual risk behaviours or teenage pregnancy
In 2020-2021 the Fathering Project involved 736 schools, 80 families were supported each week, there were 2160 dads group events and 3200 dads received intensive one-on-one support.
School-based intervention programs are supported by grants from the Commonwealth Department of Social Services.
“We use a peer-to-peer model, bringing Dads together to encourage community connection and facilitate support, education and behaviour change,” reports the Fathering Project.
“We support our Dad Group Leaders to initiate activities, recruit new members and coach them on how best to facilitate dad to dad discussions in a peer-to-peer learning environment.”
In 2020/21 there was an 81% increase in school registrations compared to the previous year, as the COVID lockdowns prompted the Fathering Project to shift to an online model.
The Fathering Channel emerged in 2020 to give dads and families a virtual community to keep connected and have access to a range of topics such as coping with stress, anxiety, isolation, home schooling and financial insecurity.
Dr Robinson gives updates and advice related to being a dad, there is a cooking segment and a podcast hosted by CEO Kati Gapaillard.
Future programs will become more tailored to priority populations including families with special needs, Indigenous fathers and father figures, men who are transitioning from pregnancy to birth and beyond, dads with children 0-5 years, dads in regional and rural schools, those from low socio-economic areas, separated families and preparation program for re-entry for incarcerated fathers.