Connecting fathers the key to healthy and happy families

University of Newcastle Family Action Centre researcher Dr Richard Fletcher said there was strong evidence that society believed it was important that fathers were included in all aspects of a child’s development.

“A survey of community attitudes showed 93 per cent of men and women think fathers should be completely involved in their children’s development. There is also increasing evidence that only engaging mothers and children when families access health, educational or welfare services is not as effective as when dads are involved too.”

Dr Fletcher said it was known that fathers were less involved in their children’s lives, even when both parents work full-time.

“After birth, for example, dads return to work in two weeks on average whereas mums return at six months. As for services, family-related services are geared more towards mothers rather than fathers,” he said.

Dr Fletcher said the Father Engagement course was designed to fill a void of information for professionals who worked with families on how to involve fathers in their children’s development.

“This course will give practitioners such as doctors, nurses, allied health workers, teachers, counsellors and social and welfare workers an understanding of why it is important to include fathers when a family seeks support.

“It will focus on fathers’ roles in child development, the improvement of fatherhood programs and services, and father-inclusive skills and strategies.”

Research and case studies will be used to explore the aspects of fathering that impact on children’s wellbeing. It will cover what father-inclusive practice entails, the reasons for engaging fathers and strategies and tools for engaging fathers.

Father Engagement – Theory and Practice will be taught online. For more information visit

Dr Fletcher is the leader of the University’s Families Research Program and the Convenor of the Australian Fatherhood Research Network.

For interviews: Dr Richard Fletcher on 02 4921 6401 or 0401 855 678.