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"Dads Underacknowledged"

"Dads Underacknowledged" says NZ Father&Child Society President Philip Chapman.

"The job Kiwi dads do is completely unacknowledged", re-elected NZ Father&Child Society president Philip Chapman said at the organisation's AGM last Saturday. "Dads are working hard to make a living for their families, bathe the babies, change the nappies when they come home, take them to the sports fields on the weekends, and yet they face lots of negative publicity from newspapers and TV. The New Zealand media really need to start telling the whole story."

Nelson-based Chapman, who is heading a local fathers group as well, has undertaken research on fathers' perceptions on the support they are getting from agencies and the public in general. "The one issue they consistently came back to is the poor image of dads in the public eye. They want stereotypes changed, because there's no longer anything to them, but they're being given a hard time because of them."

The AGM also re-elected the leaders of fathers' and men's groups in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin to the national committee.

"One problem is the household-based view of family", says national committee member Stuart Birks, director of the Centre for Public Policy Evaluation at Massey University. "We see this in official statistics and in the widespread use of terms such as 'sole parent family'. Laila Harre, who is the Minister of Statistics as well as the Minister of Women's Affairs, recently made the surprising statement that the Census "is not a suitable vehicle for collecting information on blended families and shared parenting arrangements when parents live apart". If the Census can't do this, and with the IRD suggesting that over a quarter of children have parents living apart, one would have to question the value of gathering this data. "Most children have two parents who want to be closely involved in their lives."Birks said, "International conventions recognise such relationships, requiring governments to respect and support them. Where parents are separated it would be more accurate to use terms such as 'two home children'."

The Society is acutely aware of a lack of information about fathers' contribution to today's families and the raising of today's children, a lack which is fostering inaccurate perceptions of fathers' role. The core work of the Society is compiling such information and making it more easily available. Over the past year it has built a comprehensive web site containing research, information about the work of local fathers groups, news, and fathers' stories (www.fatherandchild.org.nz).

End

Philip Chapman: (03) 548 0403; nel.neighb.cent@actrix.gen.nz Stuart Birks (06) 350 5964; K.S.Birks@massey.ac.nz National Coordinator (03) 388 8351; coordinator@fatherandchild.org.nz


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