Meet The Team

Contributors to the development of SMS4dads

The original idea was one developed by Richard Fletcher but the SMS4dads program has had contributions from many researchers and clinicians from all areas of Australia and overseas.

As well as the thousands of dads who have engaged with SMS4dads there have been lots of individuals who have helped to develop the content and delivery:

Chris May, Jennifer StGeorge, Peter Gordon, Geoff Skinner, Frances Kay-Lambkin, Jacqui Macdonald, Jamie Wroe, Olive Auman, Rebecca Giallo,  Rebecca Liackman, Jeanette Milgrom, Louie Hahn, Brett Sales, Alan Hayes, Brian Kelly, John Attia, Helen Skouteris, Craig Garfield, Paul Ramchandani, Louise Newman, Kim Hudson, Jenny Chaves Miranda Cashin, Jenni Richardson, Luke Martin, Dawson Cook, Nick Kowalenko, Nicole Highet, Bryanne Barnett, David Ellwood, Jane Warland, Ian Symonds, Michael Stark, Eileen Dowse, Alka Kothari, Jackie Mead, Cate Rawlinson, Elisabeth Hoehn, Libby Morton, Andrea Baldwin, Graham Stark, Jennifer Waterson, Janette Garvey, Sarah Moakes, Nick Kowalenko, Louise Newman.

Our current team brings a crucial mix of experience in developing programs for fathers and conducting ground-breaking research into fathers and fathering.
While male parents are central to this project, we know that a father’s wellbeing impacts and is impacted by the wellbeing of everyone in the family.

 

We are strongly committed to lifting the support for men as they become fathers. We base our decisions and content on research. We are targeting dads in the early stages of parenting (where their needs are not recognised) so that children and families will have better life outcomes

 

Richard’s research revealed possible long-term negative impacts on the children of dads with mental health issues. Fathers’ depressive symptoms in the first year after the birth predicted behaviour problems in their children years later.

“If dads’ mental health has such a dramatic impact then we need to be screening dads for depression, not just mums,” Richard explains.

In response to these limitations, Richard and his team have designed a smart-phone based program that allows mobile connection for new and expectant dads.

Participants receive texts containing information and links, and self-report their mood. If the mood tracker identifies dads as needing extra support, they will be offered a phone call from a counsellor trained in this area.

Following the success of the pilot of the SMS4dads program, Funding was received to enable a National roll-out.

“When dad’s miss antenatal classes or activities, they also miss out on contact and links to other people.  They may never get the chance to say to anyone, look I’m really stressed,” he points out.

“SMS4dads is a way of bringing dads into the health system and keeping them linked in with services and support,” explains Richard.

Richard Fletcher

Associate Professor, PhD

Richard credits a varied career, a talented and innovative team, and much life experience for affording him the insight needed to address the challenges related to actively engaging dads.

After completing his masters in Medical Science, studying epidemiology, Richard earned his PhD focusing on fathers and attachment.

“Fathers are invisible in many places, and that is endemic. Not because people dislike fathers, but because the system is set up to be focused on mothers.”

Some services and organisations are aware of the need to engage dads, but have been unsuccessful in their attempts.

“When people are challenged about this, they generally want dads involved,” Richard affirms.

“Often, however, they just don’t know how to do it.”

Richard works with health professionals on issues related to fathers, and has delivered many antenatal programs for expectant dads.

He credits his own family with giving him an understanding of the role of fathers needed to make his work relevant.

“I have three daughters and two stepdaughters,”

“My kids would say they taught me just about everything I know and they’d be right. They’ve taught me a lot, and still do.”

Maureen Beckett

PROJECT MANAGER

Wooed by the potential of SMS4dads and the enthusiasm and commitment of the team, Maureen returned to the fold to manage the rollout of SMS4dads to rural and remote fathers. 

Maureen loves working with people: that is her main motivation. She has spent her working life with deaf and blind children, unemployed young people, and those with diverse ethnic backgrounds before pursuing her own management consultancy for 11 years. After a long stint in primary health management, Maureen was keen to get amongst it again. 

 

After 16 years working with GPs, Maureen has become an expert at ‘herding cats’ and will no doubt be calling on these skills to keep the project on track.

Chris May

Recruitment Manager

Chris May has a long standing interest in fathering and parenting partnerships. He moved into academia following a career in paediatric nursing and currently works with the Fathers and Families Research Team, Family Action Centre, University of Newcastle. His PhD explored the importance of parenting partnership quality in families where there is a child on the autism spectrum.

He has designed and facilitated paternal antenatal classes for over 15 years. His current work focuses on the facilitation of partner support, the assessment of co-parenting quality and the use of technology to provide supportive intervention to new fathers and to those parenting in challenging circumstances.

Louie Hahn lives by the beach with her partner & their two teenage children – who forever challenge & inspire her, along with their trio of pets – a Persian Blue feline, a Blue Heeler and a feathery-footed chicken.

Louie has worked across arts, community, education, corporate & entrepreneurial spaces for over 20 years.

A sustaining thread in her work has been her collaborations with University of Newcastle staff where she has explored creative ways to disseminate findings & experiences of Academics, Researchers, Indigenous Staff & Service Providers.

Louie Hahn

Manager Communications & Media
(BSocSc) University of Newcastle

Louie Hahn lives by the beach with her partner & their two teenage children – who forever challenge & inspire her, along with their trio of pets – a Persian Blue feline, a Blue Heeler and a feathery-footed chicken.

Louie has worked across arts, community, education, corporate & entrepreneurial spaces for over 20 years.

A sustaining thread in her work has been her collaborations with University of Newcastle staff where she has explored creative ways to disseminate findings & experiences of Academics, Researchers, Indigenous Staff & Service Providers.

She is currently working in the role of Media & Communications Manager, SMS4dads – a text based & online parenting tool in which fathers receive information, advice & support straight to their phones. Louie’s role within University research teams has included the design & production of animations & films, development of imagery & photography, creation of infographics & social media & marketing campaigns.

As we rapidly move into a future of certain change, Louie is interested in how we – as designers, researchers, businesses, families & communities, manoeuvre ourselves in positive ways around population, parenting, climate change, global health & shifts in technology.

Louie envisions future collaborations with researchers, community groups, corporate organisations & individuals to capture ideas and activations (in all sorts of representations) to share them with change-makers, innovators, producers, leaders, policy makers & planners – for the benefit of families and communities.

Uncle Mick Adams

INDIGENOUS LEAD

Dr Mick Adams is a Senior Research Fellow at ECU’s Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet.

Uncle Mick’s research has focused on health challenges for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men.  Uncle Mick has worked in the health industry for over 30 years in both government and the community-controlled health service sector. He has been nominated as a representative to advocate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health issues on national and international boards and national and international conferences.

His goal is to get young Indigenous men talking about their unique strengths, challenges and issues to enable health systems to develop more effective services and health outcomes for our young men and their families. 

Dr Rebecca Liackman

Manager Early Arrivals Resources 

Rebecca who is originally from the UK and has a background as a paediatric doctor brings a warm and vibrant energy to the SMS4dads team. With 4 vigorous children of her own she brings a wealth of knowledge of parenting and is a great resource for many common family issues. Bec has developed a strong interest in adolescent health as her own children grow older and she is familiar with the many contemporary challenges our young folk face. It’s a different world, right? This perspective aligns well with our focus on new fathers as society shifts from the traditional roles dads played into gender equitable and father-inclusive family practices. Bec is in her last semester of a Masters in Public Health and plans to continue promoting robust, sustainable lifestyle factors that are benevolent to the planet and all its people.

Dave Edwards

INDIGENOUS RESOURCE MANAGER

Dave Edwards is a Worimi man who grew up in Turrbal/Jagera country and now lives in the Bundjalung lands of northern NSW.

Dave works from University of Sydney’s University for Rural Health in Lismore NSW as the co-director of the WellMob project, under the national e-Mental Health in Practice project and in Indigenous-led health research.

He has joined the SMS4dads team to facilitate the co-creation of resources for Indigenous dads.

Scott White

PANDA PROJECT LEAD

Prior to working with PANDA Scott was Communications Manager at the Hunter New England & Central Coast Primary Health Network where he advocated strongly for evidence-based care and whole system improvements to mental health, Aboriginal health, chronic disease management and after hours medical services.  

Scott’s skill and experience in these areas compliment his work as Project Lead liaising between SMS4dads and PANDA to ensure SMS text messages related to perinatal mental health and wellbeing are delivered appropriately and with sensitivity.

Craig Hammond

Indigenous Leader

Bourkie (Craig) Hammond has been developing Indigenous Programs at the Family Action Centre, University of Newcastle for 14 years. He has taken part in research projects around Australia involving Indigenous communities in NSW, NT, QLD, SA, VIC & TAS and worked in Aboriginal controlled organisations for 10 years as a youth worker. As a Board member Awabakal Local Aboriginal Land Council and current member of Land Council and Awabakal Aboriginal Newcastle Co-operative he has been involved in community development. As a manager player and coach of Newcastle Emus Rugby League Football club over 20 years he has established close connections with the young men in our community.

Justin Mansfield

RED NOSE PROJECT LEAD

Justin Mansfield is Campaign Manager at Red Nose Australia. He has 25 years combined experience in Not-for-Profit communications & Advertising/Design studio roles.

Justin has joined the SMS4dads team to facilitate unique messages and support for families who experience the loss of a child though miscarriage, still birth, or medical complications.

Ashleigh May

ADMINISTRATION MANAGER

Ashleigh May is our maestro Administration Manager.

She works with the SMS4dads team who are located on-site at Newcastle University’s Callaghan Campus and team members working remotely.

Ashleigh contributes to SMS4dads reporting, text management, office systems and procedures. She is highly talented and always up for the challenge to solve issues as they arise.

Ashleigh has two young sons. She enjoys working on a project that is making a genuine difference to dads and their families.

Dr Jen St George

SMS4dads CO-INVESIGATOR

Dr Jennifer St George is shining a light on fatherhood and its influence on positive early child development.

From rough and tumble play, to more subtle psychological support, a father’s involvement contributes significantly to their children’s social and emotional development. And yet, the paternal relationship remains mostly under-researched.

“In the field of fatherhood research, there is much more to understand about the nature, impact and pathways of paternal influence on children.”

Dr Jennifer St George is currently researching the effectiveness and delivery of father-specific services such as SMS4dads with super encouraging results.

Tess Fletcher

RESEARCH ASSISTANT

Tess Fletcher has a Bachelor of Psychology from Curtin University (2012) and is currently a PhD candidate at Curtin University and scholarship recipient from the FASD Research Australia Centre for Research Excellence at Telethon Kids Institute.

She previously worked as a Research Assistant (2014-2016) and Research Officer (2016-2018) at Telethon Kids Institute.

She has been an executive committee member of the Australasian Society for Behavioural Health and Medicine since 2019. Her research focus is understanding the determinants of alcohol use in pregnancy and how public health interventions can better foster behaviour change.