MEN?S GROUP IN DISTRESS
By BELINDA F SCOTT
DADS in Distress says it will be forced to close its doors and disconnect its emergency 1300 number in three months unless it can secure funding.
The founder of the biggest men's group in the country, Tony Miller, said DIDS had been operating with limited funding for seven years, but its current funding would run out in June and it had been told there was no more money available.
The Coffs Harbour-based national help organisation for fathers suffering because of the breakdown of family relationships has applied for $430,000 a year funding over three years.
A frustrated Mr Miller yesterday hit out at the lack of ongoing funding for men's health, which made it impossible to plan ahead.
He said they were continually told that they 'don't fit the box' for funding, yet they worked with 400-500 men on a weekly basis providing suicide intervention and support, had 50 groups operating nationally and demand for their services was constantly increasing.
He said many other funded agencies, including the telephone service Mensline and the Child Support Agency, referred their clients to DIDS, which relies largely on volunteers.
"We do the face-to-face work and battle to be fund- ed," he said.
"The peer support model that we run saves the government millions of dollars a year through the work of volunteers."
DIDS operates under a community-based model, training volunteer facilitators in suicide intervention and conducting face-to-face groups for divorced and sep- arated fathers in their communities as well as providing free counselling and referrals and manning the 24-hour helpline.
The face-to-face support from other men who have been in the same situation is the unique feature of DIDS and has been the cornerstone of its success, but is proving a funding stum- bling block because the men are not trained professionals.
DIDS gained its present funding under the Federal Government's Stronger Families strategy with the help of the former National Party member for Richmond, Larry Anthony, and yesterday Mr Miller asked the member for Cowper, Luke Hartsuyker, to take up their cause.