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Supporting strong indigenous families for the future

JOIN IN: Carbal Medical Centre programs manager Charlie Rowe encourages men with Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander connections to sign up for the Strong Fathers, Strong Families program.
JOIN IN: Carbal Medical Centre programs manager Charlie Rowe encourages men with Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander connections to sign up for the Strong Fathers, Strong Families program. Samantha Oneil

A FATHER himself dedicated to supporting the role of indigenous fathers in their children's lives, Charlie Rowe is a humble man.

As the Program Development manager at Carbal Medical Centre, Charlie developed a six-week program under the Strong Fathers Strong Families banner.

Initiated by the Department of Health and Ageing, the program aims to support the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island men in their family role.

Charlie is passionate about the role of men in their families, and said a lot has changed over the years.

"The family dynamics have changed," he said.

"Us men need to understand things have changed and it's a partnership to keep the household running.

"It's about bonding and connecting with your kids."

Charlie said he talked to participants about the importance of bonding and communicating with their children.

"Babies can hear you before they are born. They learn to recognise mum and dad's voices," he said.

"It's like when you take the kids to the park, it's not just doing that, you are creating good memories and bonding with them."

Charlie said the program provided a chance for men of varying ages to talk about their experiences.

"We sit and have a yarn, it give the guys an opportunity to talk," Charlie said.

"I like to have a few different ages of men in the group, so we can hear of the different journeys or stories, and there might be someone there who has had an experience before so they can yarn to each other about it.

"It's not just for dads, but pops, uncles and carers too."

The program was first delivered as a pilot program, gaining national recognition before funding was stopped in 2014.

When chief executive officer Brian Hewitt started in 2015, he saw the need to continue the program and it was decided Carbal would fund it.

Charlie said he spent about three to four months initially planning the program, meeting with elders and the community.

"I thought about what the needs of the dads were and how I could develop a program that incorporated those needs," he said.

Charlie said the feedback from participants was positive.

"It's all about making a difference," he said.

"I encourage them to share the program with others - share it with their family then that filters to the community.

The program covers a range of topics in three-to-four hour sessions, one day per week for the six weeks in a comfortable location.

"It doesn't have to be here at Carbal Medical Centre - we can go to Leslie Park or wherever," he said.

Charlie is hoping to hold four-five programs in Warwick this year.

For more information, phone Charlie on 0400 644 657.

Topics:  childrens fathers indigenous warwick



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