By Don Rowlands
The Christchurch based group Caring Fathers is saddened by the death of Laurie O’Reilly and aware that New Zealand children have suffered the loss of their most passionate and dedicated advocate.
The group commemorated his life and work as part of their monthly meeting on January 26th at the Community Law Centre, Christchurch.
We discussed the ways we, as a group and as individuals, can promote the well-being of children and continue the work of Laurie O’Reilly.
Laurie was prepared to speak his truth from the heart, even at the risk of not being politically correct or upsetting people in high places. The group acknowledge his efforts last Fathers Day with an award recognising the importance of his programme ‘Fathers Who Care’.
Caring Fathers will request that the office of the Commissioner For Children, Laurie’s successor, and the Government expand the Fathers Who Care project in the future. We must not loose the momentum now that Laurie, with his great mana, can no longer drive the issue.
Asa result of his work we are forced to deal with issues confronting children and family life in New Zealand. By the year 2010, it is forecast that, fifty percent of European New Zealand children and seventy percent of Maori children will not be living with their biological fathers.
Laurie’s life and work challenges fathers’ to take responsibility and make a positive difference in the lives of our children.
He has also thrown down the gauntlet to lawmakers, employers and social policy makers to remove the obstacles to children gaining access to positive fathering.
Next: Focus Group Findings