As I walked up the main street of Wollongong one day this week, I heard a voice cry out my name. It was an old friend of mine, whom I knew was now a single dad. He had experienced the full brunt of the Family Court’s injustice. His divorce was both painful and bitter. Simon had subsequently walked away from a very good job on the wharves and become another one of those ‘single father, unemployed’ statistics that we hear so much about.
Simon had not heard very much about our work at Dads4Kids/the Fatherhood Foundation. I found myself telling him that if I had been told two years ago that I would become an advocate for single fathers in crisis, I would never have believed it.
All along I have had a deep concern for fathers and families, but I had never really understood the incredible injustice single fathers face at the hands of the system. Roland Foster, a consistent contributor to our weekly email, has been part of my education process. The sad fact is, of course, that he has not been the only one. There are hundreds of thousands, and even millions, in his position.
I told Simon how recently in Wollongong, I had given evidence to the House of Representatives’ ‘Enquiry on Shared Parenting and the Child Support Agency’. I recounted to him how I was able to speak without fear or favour for single dads who have been betrayed by the system. The fact that I am still happily married to my first wife, with no intention of ever using the services provided by the Family Court, spoke volumes to the parliamentary enquiry.
The Fatherhood Foundation will continue to advocate for equity and justice for fathers in marriage break-up. Having said that, we do not believe all men are without fault, but they certainly deserve just and fair treatment from the courts and government agencies. As Bettina Arndt often says,
‘No gender has a monopoly on vice.’
Dads4Kids/The Fatherhood Foundation believes that children need both a father and a mother, not just a father, or just a mother, but equal access to both parents. Of course, this is easier said than done, but this must be the starting point in the unfortunate incidence of family breakdown.
The real answer is to encourage stronger relationships all the way round. This is what the Fatherhood Foundation is all about and will continue to be about. To quote a very old saying,
‘An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.’
Helping single fathers is not our forte, but we will continue to stand for justice for the single fathers of Australia. Australia’s children also need justice for their dads.
This may be my first Single Dads contribution in the Dads4Kids weekly newsletter, but it will not be my last.
Yours for justice & equity for fathers,
[Photo by Brett Jordan