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Media Release by The Hon Sussan Ley MP

Forum to strengthen the role of men in children’s lives

Practitioners working with men and fathers had the opportunity to discuss issues affecting men and their family relationships at a forum in Canberra today.

The Parliamentary Secretary for Children and Youth Affairs, the Hon Sussan Ley, today officially opened the newly formed National Men and Fathers’ Practitioner Network Forum, Building Cross Sector Capacity for Improved Child Focused Outcomes.

“This is a great opportunity for leading practitioners, who are working with men and fathers, to assist them to navigate the many barriers they can face to positive, nurturing and meaningful involvement in their children’s lives,” Mrs Ley said.

“The Forum was held thanks to support from Mensline Australia and a $10,000 grant from the Howard Government.

“It will profile recent work which has been undertaken by the men’s sector in collaboration with the Child Support Agency and the Family Court of Australia and contribute to the future direction of family relationships support services.

“Services and professionals used today’s forum as an opportunity to discuss important issues surrounding relationship breakdown.

“The Howard Government recognises the impact of family breakdown on families, as well as the wider community, and is committed to improving outcomes for men and their families.

“We are responding to the needs of families through a $397.2 million package of family law reforms, which includes a major expansion of services to assist families, as well as changes to the law and courts.

“The package will see 65 Family Relationship Centres established over the next four years to support improved relationships for families.

“We will also deliver funding for up to an additional 45 men and family relationship services, which will be progressively rolled out over the next four years, with up to 15 new men and family relationship services to be funded in the 2006-07 financial year.

“The Howard Government remains committed to supporting and strengthening the role of the family relationship sector, which will make a real difference to lives of all Australian families and communities,” Mrs Ley said.