The Dad’s Business HQ has only been open for 21 days but it has already helped scores of men in the north, with an average of two dads visiting the site each day.
From young dads to grandads, fathers of all ages are walking through the door in search of support and someone to talk to.
“Many of the dads we work with don’t have dads or role models of their own, so we become that for them,’’ says social worker Darren Clarke.
For three years, Darren ran Dad’s Business at various locations in the Playford region until the dads expressed a desire for their own space to meet in.
So he set his sights on a vacant beauty salon at Elizabeth Rise Shopping Centre and got to work, backed by funding from AnglicareSA through Communities for Children.
The result is a safe new space with a cultural focus where everyone is welcome.
“Just being here with our own place has created an amazing opportunity for us,’’ he says.
“The guys come up and see the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags on the sign out the front and they feel comfortable to call in.
“In addition to the regular drop-ins, about 30 men are now regular faces at Dad’s Business groups run throughout the week.‘’
The activities come from a place of hope and focus on building self-esteem and addressing shame through acceptance and honesty so that the dads recognise the value of fathers in family and children’s lives.
“We’ve got some dads who’ve been with us for three years who keep connecting to tell us where they’re at,’’ Darren says.
“Dads who have moved from the program are now student support officers in their kids’ schools. We’ve got a few who’ve applied for university this year and other guys doing chef courses and all sorts of things.
“They’re finding their way forward in life.’’
That is the ultimate goal for Darren and Centacare drug and alcohol counsellor, Paul Best who is available for consult at the Dad’s Business site.
“Most of us will reach out to family and friends but if their support is not great, where do you go from there?’’ Paul says.
“They lose confidence as dads because of the labels that come with the challenges they face.
“We can’t always fix those problems but we can give them some time away from them to slow them down. We spend a lot of time building them up so they can start taking pragmatic steps to resolve their issue.’’
Dad’s Business HQ will be officially opened in late March.
Dad’s Business is an AnglicareSA Communities for Children funded initiative. Communities for Children is funded by the Australian Government Department of Social Services. Centacare Drug and Alcohol Service is an Adelaide Primary Health Network commissioned service.
For more information about Dad’s Business phone 82522311 or visit us at Elizabeth Rise Shopping Centre, Hamblynn Rd, Elizabeth Downs.