Editor’s Note: This is the third tribute article to Barry Williams, founder of the Lone Fathers Association, in a four-week period. Dads4Kids has never done this before, nor are we likely to do it again. Barry’s grandson Luke’s article from last week revealed a deeply personal homage from a family member to someone who was a true hero for the Fathers and Families of our nation. John Anderson’s eulogy highlights the wonderful work that Barry did over 50 years. We hope these several stories inspire you to do your best to stand in the gap for Australian children.

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I met Barry Williams in the 1980s whilst helping him with a community project. We became friends from the start and remained so.

Barry Williams was a tireless worker and advocate for children’s rights, lone fathers and families.  Even after his medical episode, he did not relent.

He started the Lone Fathers ACT (LFA) branch in 1972 and later extended it to a national body.

Prior to the LFA commencement, he was heavily involved in the Parents Without Partners association.

He was largely responsible for that organisation’s construction of a headquarters in Dickson. He contributed financially to its completion. He did this with direct input from his own funds and through fundraising, including running a regular dance at the Finish Australia club.

Barry’s commitment was such that he carried out a lengthy hunger strike in front of Parliament House and walked from Yass to Canberra, with a damaged knee, to gain support and funding for the organisations.

Barry developed and ran a men’s shelter to give lone fathers a place to live with their children until emergency accommodation could be found. The LFA (ACT) ran this until government support was withdrawn after a change of government. This was used as a model for other states.

He involved himself in not only the local issues, but also developed a nationwide organisation. He travelled to whereever assistance was needed, often at his own expense. This included attending meetings and speaking at functions to encourage more clients to get involved in achieving the organisation’s aims.

Barry was a marriage celebrant, which he loved doing and gave it his all. He was a comforting influence at a trying time for many.

Barry and the LFA were heavily involved in suicide prevention, addressing hundreds of calls. These calls were received at all hours of the day. Barry did not refuse to talk to any of them. Barry insisted that all members involved in this received professional training to ensure the best results were achieved. An unknown number of men, in the hundreds, were saved from committing suicide.

Fighting for Children’s and Parents’ Rights

He fought hard over many years for a shared care legal approach to the custody of children in marital and partner breakups. He was a strong advocate that children needed both their mother’s and father’s presence in their lives. He extended this to represent grandparents and other family members as required. He was adamant that whatever was decided regarding custody should be done in the best interests of the children. This was largely successful despite strong opposition from numerous groups.

He realised that there was little support for men who were caring for children; his and the organisation’s efforts have increased awareness and introduction of reforms. A major achievement was getting the single-parent payment, which included men as well as women.

LFA continued to struggle to get government recognition or support.

Barry promoted many other changes to the family law provisions. He and his staff submitted numerous submissions to all levels of government, and parliamentary inquiries, on how to rectify problems in this arena. He was a regular attendee at Parliament House and was a registered lobbyist. He met with a number of Prime Ministers and ministers.

The Association, largely through Barry’s efforts, received the Volunteer Achievement Award from President Obama for their contribution to family law and lone fathers’ rights.

In 1980, Barry was awarded the British Empire medal; the ACT Senior Australian of the Year recipient in 2005; the Royal Community Achievement Award in 2007; the Volunteer of the Year Award in 2007; the OAM in 2015, and the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003 and again in 2023. He was very proud of this award as it was fully supported by the peer groups involved in children’s rights.

Barry was a unique person and will be remembered for his untiring and committed approach to the protection and enhancement of the rights of lone fathers, families and children. Nothing was too hard for him, and he would do anything in his power to help others. He was great mate. He will be missed.

About the Author: Guest Writer

Dads4Kids is a harm prevention charity committed to excellence in fathering. Our vision is to transform the nation by inspiring fathers to help their children be the best they can be.There’s a crisis in Australia. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 870,000 children, more than 1 in 6, live without their biological father at home.

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