Who’s taking care of Dads’ Health?
Sunday 4 September 2022 is Father’s Day in Australia and while many of us are wrestling with the annual “what can we get dad?” challenge, we’ve been asking ourselves “who’s taking care of dads’ health?”
Here at the Australian Men’s Health Forum we place a strong focus on community-led approaches to improving men’s social, mental and physical health. With this in mind, we've put together a list of some great projects around Australia that support dads at different stages of their journey through fatherhood.
The Early Years
So you're going to be a dad? It's time to head down to the pub and have a few drinks with "beer + bubs", the male-friendly initiative where expectant dads can learn how to support their partner through the birth of their child, over a beer (or two). For a more sober approach, check out Dads Group Inc, the team behind a range of great initiatives for dads with babies and young children, including Man with a Pram and the recently launched Dads Group podcast
The School Years
Sending your kids off to school for the first time can be a big step for dads, so one question to consider at this time is whether the school has a fathers' group. Just a few years ago, school-based dads' groups were a rare thing, but thanks to the work of the Fathering Project there are dads' groups in schools all over Australia. Founded in 2013, The Fathering Project picked up a 2019 Men's Health Award for its work in WA and has now gone national and taken on co-ordinating the Father of the Year Awards.
Dads Staying Healthy
Dads have a big role to play in keeping men and women healthy, not only do dads face the challenge of taking care of their own health, they also play a big role in setting a healthy example that their children can carry through to adulthood. Professor Philip Morgan at the University of Newcastle is leading the field in this area with his flagship programs Healthy Dads, Healthy Kids; Daughters and Dads Active and Empowered and Healthy Youngsters, Healthy Dads.
Rites of Passage
One of the most challenged stages of fatherhood is supporting children to make the transition from childhood to adulthood. Darren and Melissa Lewis have been running Queensland-based Fathering Adventures for sons, daughters, dads and father figures since 2008. Also in Queensland, Powerhouse Programs place a particular focus on raising teenage boys, as do Rites Together and Good Blokes Co in WA. For more information on a a range of resources see the Rites of Passage Institute resources page.
Dads Doing It Tough
The experience of fatherhood can bring dads face-to-face with some of life's toughest challenges, from mental health challenges to bereavement and separation. Fortunately there are some great resources out there like the PANDA supporting dads page for new and expectant dads who may be struggling; the Fathers of Loss resource hub dads dealing with the death of a child and Dads In Distress for dads dealing with the trauma of family separation.
PSA Health Checks and Prostate Cancer
Any special day for men is a timely reminder to have a PSA check. For several years of COVID lockdowns, many men skipped their regular PSA checks and, for some men, that had devastating consequences. The Prostate Cancer Help Association has information on prostate cancer support group meetings and special events. For example, in WA, the Western Suburbs Prostate Support Group is very active with Guest Speakers, Regular Monthly Meetings and a 24-hour PCaHelp Line. Find out more key facts about prostate cancer.
Dads in Priority Populations
Men in priority populations who become dads can face some unique challenges and with this in mind there are a range of specialist resources out there from groups like CALD (Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Dads) and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Fathers. For men in LGBTQI+ communities there are links to a range of resources for gay dads and "rainbow families" at the Raising Children parenting website.
People Working With Dads
Relationships Australia Victoria has put together some great resources for people working with dads through its Support for Fathers project, which includes a professionals toolkit, working with dads training, a list of programs, practitioner guides and policy frameworks. The website of the excellent SMS4dads project also lists some great resources for people working with dads.
MORE ABOUT DADS AT AMHF:
In the run up to Fathers' Day 2022 we're running a series of articles on projects working with dads which you can find here:
If you know of any great programs and resources that you think should be including in out list, please drop us an email to [email protected]