I heard recently that over half of the Australian veterans of the first Gulf War still suffer from ‘post-traumatic stress disorder’ and that many of them will probably never recover. The focus of counselling services appears to be to encourage and help veterans learn to live with the symptoms of this disorder.

A similar approach is being used to deal with problems faced by separated fathers. These fathers are being told to accept their loss and to get on with their lives. There is never a suggestion that it might be possible to restore to them their income, their children and their hope.

A classic example of this is a booklet jointly produced by the Child Support Agency, DoCS and the Family Court. It cheerfully describes its content as ‘tips and hints to help you build on your relationship with your children after separation’. The suggestion that we can ‘build on’ our relationship with our children after they have been removed from our everyday care is an idea that travels beyond optimism and into the realm of fantasy.

The title of the book is more sinister: Me and My Kids — Parenting from a Distance. This gender-neutral title may appear pleasant enough to the casual observer. However, for the separated father, it reeks of the militant feminist philosophy that underpins and permeates the CSA and Family Court. The title blatantly and unashamedly declares that men have no option other than to parent from a distance. In so doing, it contributes to the defathering of society.

It doesn’t end there. I recently received from DoCs a list of 214 men’s help organisations around Australia that receive Federal Government funding. None of them are of any benefit to men. This is because their programmes are initiated, designed and implemented by government officials.

They employ an army of highly qualified professional psychologists and bureaucrats who counsel, train and educate men to father from a distance. The community-based groups that understand the problems, meet the needs of men and promote fatherhood, receive little or no government sanction or recognition.

As a consequence of this, Australian men are among the saddest in the world. In 1998, 2150 of them committed suicide. Most of these were clients of the Child Support Agency.

Australian men do not want to father from a distance. A separated father should not have to be a distant father. Let’s work towards the common goal of being the best fathers in the world.

[Photo by Noah Silliman on Unsplash]

About the Author: Roland Foster

Roland Foster is an non-custodial father, separated since 1997, with 5 young children aged between 6 and 14 years. Roland is a passionate father and an active social reformer who believes Australia's current laws are contributing to the creation of our fatherless society.

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