Sunday, September 7, 2008

Australian Fatherhood Research Network

The Australian Fatherhood Research Network (AFRN) was launched at a seminar sponsored by the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth (ARACY), and supported by the Family Action Centre (FAC), at the University of Newcastle in April 2008. I am part of the steering group responsible for creating the AFRN. Dr Richard Fletcher is the driving force behind the network. In a recent Courier-Mail article in support of the new network he calls for much more attention to research on fathers. He comments quite rightly that even research by the Australian Bureau of Statistics needs to be reviewed, because much data on caregivers simply seeks information on mothers, and assumes that it is the same for fathers. He also suggests that we lack Australian research that will help policy development:

"....we either lack Australian research or we have research in a variety of areas with no overview to make it useful to policy development"

The network has been supported by an initial grant from the Australian Research Alliance for Children & Youth (ARACY), a national organisation with more than 850 members (including individuals and organisations) across Australia.

ARACY encourages collaboration between researchers, policy makers and practitioners from a broad range of disciplines. ARACY's founders believed that by working together we are more likely to uncover solutions to the problems affecting children and young people than by working in isolation.

The AFRN aims to promote high-quality collaborative research into fatherhood and fathering in Australia by encouraging researchers, academics, managers, practitioners and those developing policy to pay attention to the important role that fathers play in family and community life. I am convenor of one of the four planned strands of research - The father’s role in children’s literacy.

The Network has just launched its website and with it an outline of and links to a variety of interesting research concerning fathers, for example:
This is a new venture that is housed within the successful Family Action Centre (FAC) at Newcastle University. The FAC aims to strengthen families and communities by undertaking research, training and learning; developing and implementing strength-based programs; and creating models of practice that promote sustainability, social justice and community leadership.

Hopefully, this new network will have some positive outcomes and will lead to new research on the role of fathers, as well as new knowledge concerning how we can support fathers to be even more effective in fulfilling their important unique role within families. If you would like to join the network and receive regular updates you can find a link here.

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