Tweddle Dads

New Residential Program Prioritises Healthy Dads

New Residential Program Prioritises Healthy Dads


Tweddle will introduce an exciting new approach to early parenting health and wellbeing in 2020 with thanks to a grant from the Collier Charitable Fund.

Over 48 weeks, the ‘Working Out Parenting’ pilot will evaluate a new therapeutic on-site group for dads of babies and toddlers admitted to a residential program.

The after-hours weekly dads’ program will include an hour of facilitated discussion, text messages, resources, a personal trainer and access to a new on-site Health and Wellbeing centre.

“Mums more than double the number of dads admitted to the Tweddle residential program” said Tweddle Director of Clinical Services/Nursing Ms Kirsty Evans. “We know how vital dads are to the social, emotional and cognitive development of their children starting from birth, so we’re evaluating different approaches to improve that crucial early engagement”.

Research tells us that supportive parenting behaviours in which the father provides expressive and instrumental affection, nurturance, interest and companionship enhance children’s self-esteem, life satisfaction and social competence. Harris, K et al.(1998)

Tweddle’s previous research with the Parenting Research Centre in 2012 showed residential family programs may offer an important opportunity to identify and support fathers experiencing distress.

In that research, Tweddle assessed 144 fathers attending a residential program who provided information on their symptoms of depression, anxiety, stress and fatigue.

The majority of fathers admitted to the program had mental health symptoms, and one in five men were experiencing statistically significant levels of distress. This research suggested that the postnatal period, when the whole family is experiencing major life change, may be a key time for engaging fathers in non-stigmatising support services.

Working Out Dads, Tweddle’s community based program for dads of babies and children 0-4, has seen over 150 dads attend seventeen program across Melbourne’s west. The Murdoch Children’s Research Institute has evaluated Working Out Dads as delivering a statistically significant improvement in the mental health and parenting confidence in dads.

Studies show that one in ten Australian fathers experience poor mental health in the critical early years of their children’s lives; one in ten Australian fathers experience poor mental health in the critical early years of their children’s lives. [1] Thirteen percent report poor physical health; 10% report depression;[1, 2] a fifth drink moderate to harmful levels of alcohol and smoke cigarettes daily; and two thirds are overweight or obese.[3] 

Interventions targeting fathers’ mental health in early fatherhood are scarce and stigma and inflexible and long working hours, lack of services outside of business hours limit fathers’ access to early parenting education.

Ms Evans said that the Working Out Parenting program provides an opportunity to explore incentives and barriers to participation in an early parenting residential program for dads. “We’re grateful to the Collier Charitable Fund for supporting the Working Out Parenting program for 2020. We’re looking forward to having an on-site dedicated dads group, we know that healthy dads are vital for families, communities and workplaces”

The new Health & Wellbeing centre will feature fitness equipment and health messages around nutrition and mindfulness. The facilities will be available for use for staff and other family members around the pilot program schedule.

  1. 1. Giallo, R., et al., Father mental health during the early parenting period: Results of an Australian population based longitudinal study. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 2012. 47(12): p. 1907-1916.
  2. 2. Giallo, R., et al., The psychological distress of fathers attending an Australian Early Parenting Centre for early parenting difficulties. Clincial Psychologist, 2013. 17(2): p. 46-55.
  3. 3.Giallo, R., et al., The physical and mental health problems of refugee and migrant fathers: Findings from an Australian population-based study of children and their families. BMJ Open, 2017. 7(11).

Translate »