In the next few weeks, fathers across Australia – and health services catering to their needs – will have a sparkling new online resource, which hopes to address the imbalance in support for dads.
As more and more research comes to light that men don’t often use existing family services and feel left out of key stages in their role as fathers, Relationships Australia Victoria will launch a new website designed to support dads and enhance their access to support; Support for Fathers.
The purpose of the site is twofold: if you’re visiting it as a dad, you access ‘simple and succinct’ information to find out where to get help, what is on offer and other useful and positive advice for dads about being dads.
If you’re providing support for dads – including through family services, specialist programs or council-run parenting interventions – the website’s primary resource is a seven-step toolkit to help professionals review the programs they are offering, develop entirely new programs or modify what they are doing.
“There are seven elements to the Professionals' Toolkit, the first one is getting people to understand why they should include dads in a service,” explains project coordinator Dominic Alford, a social worker, who has developed and tested all content with specialists across Australia over the past 12 months.
The national project, which is run by Relationships Australia Victoria, was born out of the Department of Social Services ‘National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010-2022.’
The National Plan, explains Dominic, is far-reaching and the Support For Fathers project falls within its Fourth Action Plan.
It is hoped that Support for Fathers will go some way to reducing family violence by giving dads options, encouraging them to engage with and access community services and by “asking service providers to think about how they work with fathers".
“Not a lot of dads use family services or parenting support or use anything that the council might put in place,” says Dominic, pictured below.
The toolkit has been designed so that anyone can integrate it into their program, whether it’s a council offering the program or a family service working with families who are really struggling.
The website will also provide links to services for dads and act as a conduit for the fathering sector to share “what other great things are happening for dads across Australia".
“There are a few initiatives out there for dads … but it’s not enough. There’s a gap and we need more.”
The toolkit came together after extensive research and consultation with services and dads to find out what the barriers were to including men in services and parenting groups.
The 2018 Relationships Australia survey found that dads:
- talk to their partner more than anyone else in their life
- are less likely to talk to their mum and dad compared to others in their social circle
- are more likely to talk to other dads than others in their social circle
- want more dads’groups and dad-focused websites
- find that work significantly impacts their ability to be a dad
- find achieving a work-life balance to be the most challenging aspect of being a dad.
Support for Fathers encourages fathers to make social connections, and puts them in touch with organisations like Dads Group Inc, SMS4Dads and The Fathering Project.
and other groups that recognise the need for men to mingle around a shared need.
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