Separated dads can still seek answers

DIVORCED fathers on the Coffs Coast have a little more hope with the announcement of $274,000 in Federal Government funding for Dads in Distress.

Cowper MP Luke Hartsuyker yesterday announced that the Coffs Harbour-based organisation would receive $274,000 over two years for its work in the Coffs Harbour and Port Macquarie region through the Local Answers program, which is part of the Commonwealth's Stronger Families and Communities Strategy.

Local Answers is also funding DIDS programs in Victoria and Western Sydney, with total Federal support reaching $750,000 over 22 months.

In April, DIDS founder Tony Miller warned that the men's support group would be forced to close its doors and disconnect its emergency number, 1300-853437, unless it could secure more funding.

He was knocked back after applyingfor $430,000 a year for three years, but was advised to apply for Local Answers funding.

Yesterday he said the new funding would allow DIDS to employ someone to run the Coffs Coast program.

Dads in Distress, which is based at the Mud Huts in Duke Street, provides telephone support, community-based peer support, advice and referrals for fathers who have gone though a separation.

Since 1999 it has grown from a meeting on the veranda of Tony Miller's Coffs Harbour home to a national support organisation with programs in Victoria and Western Sydney and 50 support groups around Australia.

Luke Hartsuyker said he had been a keen advocate for DIDS and a supporter of the organisation since 2001.

He said he had been impressed by the speed and efficiency of the help provided by DIDS when he had asked for their help for constituents.

He said the funding was a tribute to the work of Tony Miller, who was bridging the 'help' gap for men, especially non-custodial fathers, who had very few support programs available to them.

"All separations are difficult and coping can be especially hard for non-custodial parents," Mr Hartsuyker said.

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