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Strong Dads Strong Futures study engages Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island men in parenting research

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men have rarely rated a mention within discussions of parenting; their roles and responsibilities largely neglected or ignored.

Addressing this in-balance, the Lowitja Institute has funded a project that began 12 months ago, and will conclude in April 2019 whereby 46 Aboriginal male parents were asked about what it means to be a parent.

Four focus groups were conducted across Coober Pedy, Wahgunyah Conservation Reserve, Port Lincoln and metropolitan Adelaide, with support and involvement from key services and organisations (see below).

Titled ‘Strong Dads Strong Futures’ (SDSF), the study found that maternal and early-years services should be doing more to better engage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander male parents.

Detailed findings will be presented at the Lowitja Institute’s International Conference in Darwin (June 2019), however project leader and researcher Dr Kootsy Canuto said participants identified parenting roles and responsibilities as including:  

  • You have increased responsibilities when you have a child
  • Give them what you never had – a better life
  • Put oneself into a position of financial security
  • Being present and involved
  • Support your children
  • Being there under any and all circumstances
  • Parents always worry for kids regardless of child’s age

When asked what could benefit them as parents, the study group noted the following:

  • Having appropriate local employment.
  • Appropriate male-related education and information regarding when/where male parents can access the necessary ‘tools’ to support them in their roles such as; male parents groups; what to expect before, during and after pregnancy; and how best to support their partner during this time.
  • Having an opportunity to discuss parenting amongst other (Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander) male parents in support groups.
  • Being on country to raise children is important.
  • Strong supportive family network and links to culture.
  • Finding alternate solutions/methods to engage and support children in the ever-advancing technological age.
  • Aboriginal men don’t have to have kids to be a father or parent, you still have a fatherly role

Strong Dads Strong Futures involved the following organisations:

Aboriginal Health Council of South Australia (AHCSA); Wardliparingga Aboriginal Health Equity Unit (SAHMRI); Healthy Mothers and Babies Theme (SAHMRI); Aboriginal Drug and Alcohol Council (SA) Aboriginal Corporation; Aboriginal Health - Northern and Central Adelaide Local Health Network, Watto Purrunna Aboriginal Primary Health Services; Kornar Winmil Yunti, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne; Tullawon Health Service Inc; Port Lincoln Aboriginal Health Service; Umoona Tjutagku Health Service; and Adelaide University.


Find out more about the Lowitja Institute’s International Conference in Darwin

Read: Close the Gap: 3 quick facts about Indigenous male life expectancy

Read: Aboriginal men’s group helps close health gap






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