Broadford Secondary College launches Fathering Project

BROADFORD Secondary College will implement an initiative for the first time, a project aiming to bring together fathers of the community to create a support network for parents and guardians.

The initiative, The Fathering Project, will begin early next month after an information night inviting fathers and father figures to attend. Father figures can include uncles, grandfathers or other guardians.

The Fathering Project is a nationwide program aimed at providing support and resources to fathers so they can have a meaningful connection with and impact on their children.

Organisers of the project, Broadford Secondary College’s student wellbeing coordinator Jason Gatt and wellbeing team member James Pateras, said their aim was to build a community of fathers to support each other.

“The Fathering Project aims to improve child development outcomes by inspiring and equipping fathers and father figures to effectively engage with their kids,” Mr Gatt said.

“It’s a school-based dads’ group that involves programs and events specific to the engagement style and needs of dads and father figures.

“Fathers and father figures can be involved for whatever period they choose to be part of the project.”

Mr Gatt said the project would aim to be inclusive.

“At Broadford Secondary College, we strive to be as inclusive of family as possible, valuing family engagement as a powerful contributor to best outcomes for our young people,” he said.

“[The program will aim] to support fathers and father figures to better understand their child and connect better with them, to provide men with the opportunity for mutual support – building a community of fathers/father figures where men feel cared for, and to support men in feeling connected … men can sometimes otherwise feel isolated, detached or disconnected.”

The wellbeing team said fathers had a significant impact on the academic, social and emotional wellbeing of children, which in turn meant they had a long-term effect on their adult life.

“An effective and engaged father or father figure helps to reduce alcohol, tobacco and drug use, reduce suicide and self-harm, increase health outcomes, increase self-esteem and resilience, and reduce bullying behaviours,” Mr Gatt said.

“Effective and engaged fathering also helps to increase social responsibility and social maturity, reduce engagement in unhealthy and risky behaviours, increase physical activity, and increase student connectedness with school and better academic outcomes.”

The organisers said fathers were invited to a launch event next week that would provide information about how they could get involved in the program.

“The one challenge we may encounter is how we go about creating enough safety and comfort for the fathers and father figures to attend the group,” Mr Gatt said.

“We are aware that some men may feel a lack of confidence in coming along – all we can say is, please give yourself and us an opportunity to help you feel included and welcomed.

“[We want to provide] enthusiastic and engaging opportunities for fathers and father figures and children to connect … and to be part of a welcoming and supportive group.

“A highlight for the school would most definitely be seeing connections between fathers and father figures and their kids.”
People interested in participating and getting involved are encouraged to attend a launch event at 6.30pm on Wednesday, March 31 at the college’s main courtyard.

For more information or to RSVP, contact the college on 5784 1200, or email James Pateras on james.pateras@education.vic.gov.au.

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