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Media Release by The Hon Sussan Ley MP

Men’s Survival Centre in Coffs Harbour

Dads in Distress, Coffs Harbour, provides practical and emotional support for non-custodial fathers traumatised by separation or divorce, and who may be suffering from associated depression, isolation and risk of suicide.

The Parliamentary Secretary for Children and Youth Affairs, Sussan Ley, launched the service today and outlined that Dads in Distress’ primary aim is to assist fathers to recover from the initial effects of a family separation and become responsible parents and contributors to society.

“A volunteer-based support group of men provide telephone support, community-based peer support, run programs, and provide referral to established community education and training programs,” Mrs Ley said.

“The Men’s Survival Centre, operated by Dads in Distress, provides a comforting and supportive drop-in place for fathers often experiencing considerable emotional distress, with support provided for men, by men.

“The work performed by Dads in Distress has the potential to save lives and promote the quality of lives of families experiencing separation or divorce, not least by enabling fathers to proactively develop and become active and positive contributors to their own children’s lives,” Mrs Ley said.

While services presently extend into Victoria and Queensland, it is expected by the end of 2005 the service will operate nationally.

Howard Government funding of $330,000 was provided under the Local Answers Initiative of the Stronger Families and Communities Strategy (SFCS), giving families, their children and communities the opportunity to build a better future, and to flourish and achieve their potential.

It encourages community involvement and ownership, and offers community organisations the chance to think about local issues and how they can be best addressed.

“The aim of programs such as this one, under SFCS, is to build partnerships between all spheres of government, community organisations and business to provide easier access to a comprehensive range of services to help our children and families have better outcomes,” Mrs Ley said.