It’s been one year since Dad’s Business HQ officially opened at Elizabeth Downs. From forging friendships to strengthening families, the site has quickly become a pivotal space for dads of all ages in the north.
Hundreds of children are set to reap long-term benefits from a dedicated dad space in the north which has been visited more than 1000 times in the past year.
Dad’s Business HQ opened at Elizabeth Rise Shopping Centre, Elizabeth Downs, last January to provide existing, new and expecting dads with parenting and other supports.
More than 300 dads have accessed the site, indirectly benefitting 500 plus children, many from Aboriginal families and a growing number from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.
The HQ opens seven days a fortnight with dads able to seek advice, referral to services, parenting education, advocacy, counselling and support for misuse of alcohol and other drugs.
Centacare data shows that in the six months to December 31, 2019, 149 individual dads engaged with Dad’s Business HQ programs, and many more visited for one-off support. Almost one third of clients were referred by child protection authorities. .
Fourteen dads have since gained employment with a further five obtaining a qualification via TAFESA. A large number report they are now able to communicate more positively with an ex-partner in the best interests of their children.
Centacare social worker Darren Clarke said the HQ supported dads to focus on themselves and their decision-making in order to nurture their children’s wellbeing and sense of safety at home.
Many dads were grappling with their role as fathers on the back of complex challenges, he said.
These include family breakdown, domestic violence, mental health issues, substance misuse, transience, social isolation, financial and family law pressures, and childhood trauma.
“They sometimes come here because they’re not in a good space; they come here because they know they can get the support they require,’’ Darren said.
“We’ve had over 1000 touch points in a year – that’s 1000 opportunities for those dads to go down a different path.
“We’ve got dads who are now working, studying and putting back into the community. When you think of what that means for their children, well that’s huge generational change. You can’t put a dollar figure in savings on that.’’
Darren (pictured, right, with Paul Best, drug & alcohol counsellor) said the growing demand for support from Dad’s Business HQ had exposed gaps in community services, such as emergency accommodation options for men of all ages who were fleeing violence or experiencing homelessness.
Dad’s Business is an AnglicareSA Communities for Children funded initiative. Communities for Children is funded by the Australian Government Department of Social Services.