The first designated space for dads in Adelaide’s north will open next month to give fathers a safe place to seek parenting and personal support.

A vacant shop in the forecourt of Elizabeth Rise Shopping Centre at Elizabeth Downs is being transformed into a Dad’s Business headquarters.

In partnership with Communities for Children facilitating partner Anglicare, Centacare will oversee the space where men can drop in for a chat and seek advice, referral to services, parenting education, advocacy, counselling, and support for alcohol and other drugs.

Paul Best (left) and Darren Clarke

There will be a strong focus on cultural awareness and understanding to tackle stigma, which remains one of the main barriers to young men reaching out for help.

Dad’s Business social worker Darren Clarke hopes the space will empower men of all ages, and strengthen their sense of pride, cultural belonging and community ownership.

“We want the guys to know that for whatever support they need, this is where they go,’’ he said.

“Even if they spend 15 minutes here, they can drop in, talk and just debrief, and we can link them in with the supports they require if we can’t provide them.

“At the moment they’re telling us that if they feel stressed, in some cases they’ve got to wait up to four weeks or more for an appointment to get mental health support. We can provide that early intervention immediately.’’

More than 220 men, including 15 clients who identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, have engaged with Dad’s Business touch points over the past six months.

The program supports first-time and existing dads across the Playford region through a range of activities that recognise the value of fathers in family and children’s lives.

“The focus is on strengthening their capacity to parent within a community-building framework in a community setting,’’ Darren said.

“One of the biggest difficulties we’ve had over the past three years has been finding suitable locations that dads can call their own to run group and one-on-one activities each week.

“As participation numbers have grown, so has the need to be more flexible. This space will allow us to do that.’’

Centacare Drug & Alcohol Service counsellor Paul Best said common challenges faced by men included a lack of connectedness, opportunity and meaning in their lives: “There’s a lot of unemployment and stigma attached to that which people manage in different ways, including alcohol and drugs.

“It’s confronting for them to walk into a big community centre or office space, so if they can come somewhere in their own community where they feel safe and comfortable, then sharing their concerns and having the opportunity to address their challenges becomes more accessible to them.’’

For more information about Dad’s Business, phone 08 82522311