Channel 7 Sunrise

E&OE
 
EDWINA BARTHOLOMEW:
 
Well, we all know dads have a big impact on the way kids grow up but as life gets busier it can get hard to fit in quality time.
 
MATT DORAN:
 
It certainly can. Today the federal government is announcing a $5.4 million commitment to roll out a program that’s called The Fathering Project. And joining us with all the details is Families Minister Paul Fletcher.
 
Minister, good morning, thank you very much for your time.
 
PAUL FLETCHER:
 
Good to be with you.
 
MATT DORAN:
 
This project actually started, I understand, in WA back in 2013.
 
PAUL FLETCHER:
 
That’s right.
 
MATT DORAN:
 
This money, I imagine, will help roll it out nationally.
 
PAUL FLETCHER:
 
Look, that’s right. So, The Fathering Project works in primary schools, so they go in and set up dads groups because we know dads perhaps find it a bit harder than mums to talk to other men to find out what being an effective father is about. And so, they set up these dads groups, they do activities with the kids, they encourage dads to spend some time with their children. And, yes, this $5.4 million from our Liberal National government will help expand The Fathering Project around Australia.
 
EDWINA BARTHOLOMEW:
 
You have boys of your own. How have you found trying to juggle that balance and sort of putting those teachings into this program in some ways?
 
PAUL FLETCHER:
 
Well, as the dad of a 10 year-old and a stepfather of a 22 year-old, certainly my experience is consistent with what The Fathering Project is designed to address. We’re all busy and it’s easy to get caught up in work and not spend enough time with your kids. So, The Fathering Project’s about helping dads engage with other dads - that peer support’s very important – but also just encouraging one-on-one time with a child; it might be just walking in the park, it might be going to see some sport, going to watch a movie, but all the research shows that if dads spend time with their children, it helps them be more effective fathers, and that’s so important to our children’s development.
 
MATT DORAN:
 
Gee, it’s a wonderful initiative when you look particularly at the long-term- the potential long-term impacts on these children. Minister, give us some practical examples, if you could please, of how the funding will actually work, some of the practical [indistinct].
 
PAUL FLETCHER:
 
Well, there’s a couple of things that The Fathering Project is going to do, they’re going to expand into more school around the country. So, they work in primary schools and they set up dads groups in individual schools with support from volunteers. And, of course, they’re also going to set up some better digital resources - they’re already online, Fathering Project, you can Google them, but it’s going to expand their digital resources. So, dads will have a place to go both within a school where a group’s set up but also to go online, just get some tips on how to be a more effective dad. And the number one thing they emphasise is find that time, that one-on-one time, with your child, doing activities together, and that will be supplemented by some fun activities that The Fathering Project groups will organise in schools.
 
EDWINA BARTHOLOMEW:
 
It’s great to have this project led by schools but I suppose workplaces need to be a bit more understanding as well, not just giving mum time off to perhaps go and pick up a sick kid from school but allowing that for dads as well and maintain that balance within families.
 
PAUL FLETCHER:
 
Look, in families it’s so important that both mums and dads are doing their bit and, of course, what we know is that dads can tend to be a bit caught up in work and not spend as much time with their children. So, The Fathering Project’s about helping dads become aware of that, helping them get some ideas from other dads about how to be more effective dads. And in turn as dads get supported in that way, they’ll naturally spend more time with their children. The results in Western Australia have been very good, so there’s 5.4 million of federal government funding is going to help The Fathering Project extend their work and their great activity around Australia.
 
MATT DORAN:
 
Well, great idea, great message. Families Minister Paul Fletcher, thank you very much and good luck with the rollout.
 
PAUL FLETCHER:
 
Thanks very much.
 
EDWINA BARTHOLOMEW:
 
Good on WA for kicking it off.