Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Milestone delivery for new dads in northern Melbourne

In an important milestone, the 1,750th new father today completed the I’m a Dad program in Melbourne.

The Children’s Protection Society’s I’m a Dad program started in 2005 with the support of UnitingCare Burnside and The Northern Hospital and equips men for one of the biggest challenges of their lives – becoming a dad for the first time.

It’s aimed at building parenting skills, encouraging shared parenting responsibilities, recognising how important fathers are in giving their children the best start in life.

I’m a Dad offers father-inclusive antenatal classes, dad’s reunion and support groups, regular newsletters, links to children’s and family support services and a New Dads’ Advisory Panel.

Everyone in a family has an important role in giving children the best possible start to life. Dads are taking an increasingly hands-on role in caring for babies and raising children.

The crucial role of fathers in caring for babies can be too often overlooked. Dads need time to bond with their newborn baby too.

That’s why the Productivity Commission draft inquiry report into Paid Parental Leave has also recommended two weeks paid leave for new fathers after the birth of their child.

And more and more dads are taking on the role of primary carer. Last year more than 12,000 fathers stayed at home as the primary carers of their children – an increase of 35 per cent on the previous year.

The Productivity Commission’s draft inquiry report also recognises this growing trend by proposing that the primary carer’s entitlement to 18 weeks paid leave may be the father.

Supporting the bonds between mums and dads and their babies is essential to strengthen the foundations of new families.

I’m a Dad is internationally recognised as a best practice model because it engages first time fathers at an early stage of the parenting cycle and has a lasting, positive impact on families, children and communities.

Today at the Northern Hospital in Melbourne, David Gunn, became the 1,750th dad to be presented with an I’m a Dad bag after the birth of his first child.

The Australian Government’s Invest to Grow funding has provided $600,000 for the program, including almost $150,000 in 2008/09.

Demand has also resulted in the recent creation of an I’m an Aboriginal Dad support program. This has been especially designed to meet the needs of young Aboriginal fathers whose partners are attending the Mercy Hospital for Women Transitions Clinic.