FATHER: 'The day I grew up was the day my wife died'
THE day Wally McIntosh's wife passed away and he was left alone with five young children was the day he "grew up" and became a dad.
Until that point, he was still "out with the boys" and "mucking around" but, when breast cancer took its toll on his family in 1994, everything changed.
"My life opened up right there ... as soon as that moment happened I clicked and went 'you're it now, you've got to be a dad'," Mr McIntosh said.
An Aboriginal man who faced a childhood of racial violence, Mr McIntosh spoke about the significance of positive male role models for International Men's Day.
"I tried so hard to make sure I was there for my children," he said.
"Just be the best father you can be, it is simple as that. It is not always an easy job but it is the most important thing you can do in your life."
Warwick State High School behavioural support teacher Andrew Jones said men had a proven influence on social and developmental traits of male and female children.
"We read the research and we are told without a doubt what an astounding difference having a good male figure can have," Mr Jones said.
"A person with a positive male role model is less likely to be unemployed and rely on welfare, they are more likely to be involved in sporting groups and have positive social groups and be functional," he said.
But positive male role models were in shorter supply, Mr Jones said, due to a number of social factors like rates of relationship separation and a shortage in male primary school teachers.
Data from the 2016 Australian census indicated there was more than 900,000 single-parent families and 81.8 per cent of single parents were female.
Mr Jones acknowledged the work and care of single mothers but said male "fatherly" figures were also important.
"Unfortunately what can be lost is this father figure who can show you how to act in certain situations," he said.
"It might not be the father for certain reasons but it needs to be somebody."
On the topic of education, School of Total Education principal Shane Power said it was difficult to recruit male primary school teachers.
According to workplace data, 18 per cent of primary school teachers are male.
If current trends of decline continue, male teachers will be completely absent from Australian primary schools by 2067, according to analysis by The Conversation.
"I just think it is very healthy for there to be a male influence in children's lives, particularly in a situation where there are so many single-parent families," Mr Power said.
Having worked as a nurse, mental health advocate Simon Goddard said "nurturing" roles or professions in health and education were generally discouraged for men.
Mr Jones said the trends were concerning.
"The role men play can needs to constantly be reinforced," he said. "Having that balance between male and female role models is very important."
He said a positive role model acted out good values and led by example.
Hearing the men's thoughts, shared at an International Men's Day breakfast in Warwick, Mayor Tracy Dobie said the difficulties men faced was often unacknowledged.
"Now I am nearly 60, I see life is very difficult for men and I think we need to support men and give them as much help as we can," she said.