Fathers matter too

We talk to Brendon Smith from our partner organisation, the Father & Child Trust

“The Father & Child Trust was founded in Christchurch in 1997 by a group of dads who ‘found’ each other in Hagley Park, where their children played together. We soon realised that as ‘at-home; and part-time or solo dads, we had similar issues and wanted to support each other as parents.

By 1998, we moved into a community room and formed a trust, aiming to bring a dad perspective into existing family services and address the lack of information or support for NZ dads. We covered issues like depression, role adjustment, partner and relationship issues, soon forming a partnership with the local Plunket PND/PNAP mothers support group.

We’ve had an office in Auckland since 2009 and a part-time representative in Wellington since 2017. We try to offer support at all stages from antenatal through to postnatal, and with issues around separation and child welfare. The key message is that dads are important to both mum and the children, especially when there is a new baby in the house.

We take part in training days where midwives, maternity nurses, MMH workers and Plunket people attend to learn about perinatal mental health. We offer a session on how important dads are, particularly in the prevention of, and recovery stages of, postnatal depression. We also highlight how can dads suffer from similar mental health issues. We offer a support group for these fathers in Auckland and phone support for dads nation-wide, as well as parenting and anger management courses.

There are a lot of dads out there needing support, and I often handle two or three new clients a day. They may need legal help or support with services, or they may just need someone who understands them to help them feel less alone. 

Our wish is that every midwife, maternity ward and Plunket set up included dads in everything they do. Then dads will be much better prepared for baby time, more understanding about mums needs and more involved with their baby at an earlier stage."

For more information visit www.fatherandchild.org.nz