Not-for-profit organisation The Fathering Project has received a $5.4 million grant from the Federal Government to help expand its activities across Australia.
The Western Australian group was started in 2013 by Dr Bruce Robinson, with the purpose of helping dads have more involvement in the lives of their children.
A respiratory specialist, Robinson understood from his work with terminally ill men that they regretted not having spent more time with their children.
He then spent hundreds of hours talking to men and kids and concluded that, “Fathers are the most powerful force in Australia to reduce the chances of our kids falling victim to drug, suicide and crime.”
The Fathering Project spread to NSW and Victoria, and caught the eye of former Australian Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson, now a patron of the organisation.
“I was fascinated by the research, which demonstrated the importance of fathering, and father figures in the lives of children,” he said.
Only 5% of primary parental leave is taken by fathers. Being an involved dad is better for men’s health and better for everyone, especially women and children. Find out more about Supporting Fatherhood.
The Fathering Project runs dads’ groups primary schools where fathers share experiences of parenting as well as play with their kids.
Acknowledging that an effective father figure has a profound impact on his children, the group encourages fathers to become pro-active parents and highlights the causal link between good fathering and the reduction of issues developing including those across mental health, substance abuse, family and other violence and self-harm.
Anderson said it was “tremendous to see something where good science, good public policy and good social policy all meet together,” he said.
The Fathering Project chief executive Wayne Bradshaw said funds would be used to grow the group’s activities and awareness of services.
“We are looking to target about 250 primary schools per year in NSW as part of this program … our role is to support those volunteer groups within the school.”
The Fathering Project was described by Federer Minister for Families and Social Services, Paul Fletcher, as a “proven model” – running in more than 140 schools in Western Australian and more than 40 in NSW.
“The funding will assist the model to roll out more broadly across Australia, along with supporting a stronger online presence, so tips and resources for dads as well,” he said.
One dad spoke about the power of sitting around talking with a group of fathers. “We had a man’s heart to heart … it opened the receptors to what impact you do have on your children,” said father of three, Peter Honey, from Sylvania Heights.
A sampling of activities included a table tennis competition, ‘bangers and bingo’, gingerbread house-making and watching movies together.
Best-selling author Tim Winton is an advocate of The Fathering Project and shares his views on the significance of fathering in this video. “What we do as dads is a life-long thing,” he begins. “It’s a responsibility that’s bigger than a career, it’s bigger than our own hobbies, it’s bigger than our own lives.”
The Fathering Project's Vision is: for every child in Australia to have an effective father figure.
The Fathering Project's Purpose is: is to inspire, encourage and support fathers and father figures in our community to be more present and pro-active at every stage of their kids’ life.
- The Fathering Project (website)
- The group helping fathers and their charges across Australia: The Daily Telegraph (paywall)
- Find Out How To Help Us Support Involved Fatherhood (AMHF #Better4Men Campaign)