Competency 1. Group work with fathers
For many welfare services ‘running a group’ is a fundamental aspect of their work with community members. Parenting educators and facilitators also understand the power of group processes to integrate and translate parenting information for individuals.
Until recently the notion of group processes specific to fathers (men) was either ignored or elevated into a male-specific mystery. Female staff would often explain their approach to fathers in parenting groups as "just the same as mothers" which left them to conclude that men were too busy or uninterested when mothers, but not fathers attended.
Alternatively father’s activities were deemed to be impossible because "we only have female staff" and "how would we know what fathers think?" Of course, the gender of the facilitator is not irrelevant. But the idea that it is essential to have only fathers presenting to fathers is not borne out by the success of many co-facilitated groups in a variety of settings from antenatal clinics to primary schools.
Download the file Skills, Knowledge & Attitudes for Group Work with Fathers (80 KB pdf).
The development and documentation of competencies will be part of the ongoing work required for Father-inclusive Practice. The future will no doubt see many new areas of work with fathers requiring new skills, knowledge and attitudes. However we also expect to see the development of supporting documentation for existing areas of work providing detailed assessment for practitioners and giving more precise guidelines for the way that the competencies link to the Principles of father-Inclusive Practice.
For example, in the area of work with separated fathers, a well-developed set of competencies was released shortly after the Father-Inclusive Practice Forum was held. The Working with Separated Fathers competency standards, assessment guides and assessment tools were developed for the Child Support Agency (CSA) by FatherWork and a network of experienced practitioners in 2004-05. The competency standards aim to provide a framework for the training and assessment of group leaders for the 'Being Connected and Staying Connected' psycho-educational, intervention programs for separated fathers.
The newly formed ‘National Men and Fathers’ Practitioners Network’ is involved in consultation with CSA and the Australian Government's Department of Family and Community Services (FaCS) regarding the ongoing development of the competency standards and assessment materials for use in broader contexts of working with men and fathers. See the Being Connected site for more information.