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November 18, 2015

Father and Child at Infant Mental Health Conference in Sydney

Father and Child Trust’s Brendon Smith presented at the AAIMHI Conference “And father makes three; family inclusive practice” on Oct 29-31 at UNSW in Sydney, Australia.

The Australian Association For Infant Mental Health Inc has a focus on research, education, advocacy and mutual support through networking – all in recognition that infancy is critical for psycho-social development, with this year’s conference the first ever to emphasise the roles dads play in their children’s lives.

Presentation topics covered:

Father and Child's Brendon Smith with Dr. Richard Fletcher at AAIMHI Sydney

Father and Child’s Brendon Smith with Dr. Richard Fletcher at AAIMHI Sydney


◾ Family inclusive practice across blended, and traditional families
◾ Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families
◾ Care for babies and toddlers
◾ How do clinicians support father-infant attachment and co-parenting?
◾ How can family-inclusive practice increase fathers’ support for mothers?
◾ Working with fathers, what works to recruit fathers to perinatal services?
◾ How do we engage fathers alongside mothers?
◾ What are the barriers, facilitators and boundaries in working with fathers?

Presenters included Dr Richard Fletcher, author of The Dad Factor and pioneer of dad inclusion in Australian family support services. He announced a new ‘txt for dads’ support service where expecting/new dads will receive messages from 3mths before till 6mths after baby is born.

Dr Nick Kowalenko of the NSW Institute of Psychiatry presented on how dads are different, they take risks and their style of play helps children develop independence, Tim O’Leary presented on How Is Dad Going? his website and books on support for dads, plus Craig Hammond talked on his ‘Stayin’OnTrack’ resources for Aboriginal dads – based in Newcastle NSW.

Brendon presented on ‘Supporting Vulnerable Teen Dads’ sharing three case studies and what has worked for these clients. Feedback for the session was great as the other male support workers thanked him for presenting strategies and skills. The audience were impressed with the video of Alan Va’aa’s Manurewa young dads group song – Family Love in closing…

Father and Child were also pleased to see Ohomairangi Trust and their Hoki ki te Rito-Oranga Whanau – Mellow Parenting, Mellow Bumps group work, they are based in Mangere and provide great courses for high needs couples.

Overall it seems that in resources or services to support dads and parenting courses that include dads, New Zealand is well ahead of Australia, but in Government or state funded initiatives around engaging fathers or mental health for dads, we are behind. Father and Child look forward to the ongoing sharing of ideas and resources with our colleagues in OZ.

Father and Child wants to thank PMHNZ/PADA and Dave Owens of Great Fathers for their wonderful letters of support, which contributed to funding from Lotteries Grants Board – the Minister of Internal Affairs Discretionary fund helped us send and pay for Brendon to attend and present at this conference.
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