At the Rotary Club of Ascot's Meeting on 10 March Ron Alexander introduced Steve Rushforth to Ascot Members and Steve spoke about the Fathering Project

Guest Speaker Steven Rushforth

 Steve has spent most of his life in education as a secondary schoolteacher, deputy and principal teacher. He volunteered for eight years in the Fathering Project and is now a full-time project officer.

The Program originated from the work of Professor Bruce Robinson a Lung Specialist who noticed that many of his male patients suffering from a fatal lung disease often expressed the wish that they had spent more time with their children as they grew up. Professor Robinson was awarded the West Australian of the Year in 2013 for his work. 

Working as an educator, Steve has seen the best and worst of the impact of fathers in kid’s lives. There is no doubt that effective fathering means a generation of kids with happier, healthier futures.

Steve’s PowerPoint presentation showed case studies of young girls and boys in crisis. The lack of an active father role model has resulted in a dramatic increase in risky behaviour.

 For example, research has shown 39% of girls aged 17 years binge on alcohol once a month. 

The lack of a supportive father role model means children fail to achieve potential at school and the lifelong disadvantage this causes. The onset of depression self-harm and the increasing suicide rate of our youth can also be linked to a dysfunctional or a disengaged father role model. 

The way a father and mother interact in the house has a significant impact on children’s health and wellbeing. The level of domestic violence and crime in our society has shown to be directly linked to the role provided by fathers.

Steve gave insight into the way improvement in fathering skills could be achieved through the Fathering Project. At present, 160 schools have Dads’ groups that meet and discuss ways to provide support to their children.

 What do kids need from their dads?

The BUS principle, for example, stands for the following: 

Being there:  Even 8 minutes of quality time a day can make a significant impact.

Unconditional Love: Children should know that in good and bad times they would be loved and supported.

Special: To let every child understand they are unique.  The Fathering Project provides fathers with tips on how to better connect and communicate with their children as they grow and develop.

I provides information and tips on how to respond to current and common issues that may affect children and families.

They provide opportunities for fathers to meet other fathers and share their experiences, challenges and learning.

Steve asked that if we know of any schools, workplaces and community groups in our District that would benefit from being involved in the Fathering Project, he would be delighted to visit them and offer support.