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DIDS in Distress - Time is running out

An open letter to Warick Marsh at the Fatherhood Foundation

Dear Warwick,

It is with much sadness that I write to inform you that dads in distress Inc will be forced to close its doors and disconnect its emergency 1300 number come July unless adequate operational funding can be secured. Our current funding under the 'Stronger Families Strategy' culminates in July and we have been told that there is no funding available to us under that dept again.The group has been operating with limited funding over the past 7 years through the help of big hearted men including yourself. Unfortunately we have lost a lot of good men who had great expertise but put simply 'had to eat'. These men have given hours and hours of their free time in order to help those less fortunate then themselves. We will be forever grateful to those that have donated their time and energy to the plight of fatherlessness in this country.

Unfortunately there comes a time of realisation. We just cannot continue as we have been. The demand for our services is ever increasing and we are unable to adequately meet the needs of the increase. Dads in distress has 50 groups operating nationally, engages anywhere between 400-500 men on a weekly basis, has a website exceeding 5 million hits annually, runs a 1300 number manned by volunteers 24/7, trains around 50 facilitators yearly in suicide intervention and group work, operates a drop in centre at Coffs Harbour, provides free counselling and referrals to those in need. We have become a community, a community of dads just seeking a fair go, a community of dads who simply want to continue their relationship with their children after divorce or separation.

This community unfortunately is about to be shattered.

It seems this Government is unable to find the box that we fit in when it comes to funding. We are not the only ones. The successful and proven Community based peer support model that we run saves the Government millions of dollars a year through the support offered by hundreds of volunteers nationally.We have even be offered to take the model overseas to several countries,(maybe we can secure funding from overseas). We have applied for funding under the National Suicide Prevention Strategy unsuccessfully. We are still awaiting DGR status and seem to hitting a brick wall when asking Government to adequately fund us. Sad isn't it when the Government announced in the 2005 budget $75.7 million dollars for the DV campaign yet near nothing is given to the plight of men suffering the same.

Mensline is funded at $2.8 million dollars a year and rightly so, but Mensline and many funded agencies including the CSA refer men to us. We do the face to face work and battle to be funded. If we had just 1 tenth of Mensline's funding we could continue. Unfortunately no ones listening……Tony Miller dids


1.      why we do it (the need) Separation, Divorce and Male Suicide

1.1.   Australian and International research and studies into male suicide point to is a significant connection between male suicides and relationship breakdowns, including divorce and separation

1.2.   Some 42% of first marriages end in divorce. The AIFS indicates that in 1994 men were most likely to divorce between the ages of 30-49 years.

1.3.   Australian research indicates that divorce is rated as one of the most distressing life events for men and women.

1.4.   Children and mothers have traditionally been the focus of research on well-being after divorce, whereas only limited attention has been paid to the distress of fathers following divorce (Stone, 2001).

1.5.   According to Australian suicide researchers Dr Chris Cantor and Dr Pierre Baume, men are most vulnerable in the period immediately after separation.

1.6.   At the Men's Health Conference in 2001, it was suggested by the then assistant director of the Federal Men & Family Relationships' program, that one separated man commits suicide each day (Orkin 2001).

1.7.   Research by Cantor on suicides in QLD over 1990?2, shows that separated men are 6 times more likely to suicide than married men, and this was greatest in the age group up to 29 years. Separated males aged 30-54 are 12 times more likely to suicide than separated women. (Cantor & Slater 1995).

1.8.   The QLD Health Suicide Research Project is a study of some 2600 suicides in QLD for 1990-95. In a sub-group (n=294) that reported on relationship separation and length of time, 73% of suicides occurred within one month of the relationship change.

1.9.   A study of 4000 suicides by Griffith University found that 70% of adult male suicides were caused by relationship breakdowns. Research has also found that separated men have a suicide rate about 6.2 times that of married men, and about 12 times that of separated women.

1.10. Divorce multiplies men's suicide risk, making them nearly 9.7 times likelier than women to commit suicide even after controlling for other risk factors, according to a study by Augustine Kposowa, a University of California at Riverside sociologist 2003.

1.11. Relationship breakdown is a major trigger for male suicide, exacerbated by men's experiences with the family law system. This conclusion was supported by a study involving 15,000 Australians, released this week by the Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention at Griffith University, which found relationship breakdown to be the main cause of suicide, with the male risk four times that of females.

1.12. Twice as many divorced men kill themselves, compared to single and married ones.

1.13. Recent research into male suicide in this age group revealed that males in the 'separation phase' of a marriage break-up were most at risk of suicide, compared with widowed or divorced males… Relationship breakdown is a significant characteristic of male suicide in the 24-39 age bracket. The anxiety and emotional pain of separation and divorce appear to effect men differently. LifeForce, Wesley Mission 2001

1.14. 'There is a concern that men are less likely to use mental health services,' Links says. 'Men don't reach out for help or don't feel existing services meet their specific needs. This might be a factor for the significantly higher number of male suicides compared to the number for women.'

1.15. The Federal Government is proposing to spend $2 million over the next three years on suicide prevention for men aged 25 to 44 - a pittance compared to the $31 million spent in the 1990s on youth suicide.

Site Director
Does anyone have any latest indications of how DiDS are tracking with their funding applications. We just simply cannot let DiDS come to an end due to lack of funding. :(  

Executive Secretary - Shared Parenting Council of Australia
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