Aboriginal Resources

What dads say

SMS4dads has been amazing – thanks for helping us dads out.
I really loved these texts. They were so encouraging and full of great advice. My wife loved that I was getting them as well and she started reading them too. They always seemed to come at the right time. Thanks for the work you guys do. It really helped me out.
Having a baby was the hardest thing I’ve ever been through, but I always felt validated when I read your SMSs.
Just wanted to say thanks – the texts have been invaluable. I couldn’t have known just how much I needed these short and helpful messages.
I got a text about interacting with baby while I was doing it – it was spot on.
This has been a massive support for me. Every tip has helped form the dad I've become in some small way.
SMS4dads helped me more than I could ever try to explain. I’ll miss the encouraging advice and texts.
Three mustard poos in a row – I’m loving being a dad!
I felt more connected to my son because of SMS for dads.
I work long hours – so that reminder throughout the day at a random time to make you think of your baby and your partner is huge.
I miss the messages – they were a conversation starter with my wife.
As a busy dad, I felt a bit isolated. SMS for dads helped a lot.
I didn't know where to get support, especially for dads.
The messages are very supportive. We've had a few hard days here and there, as you do with a newborn. And those messages have just, they helped so much.
[Dad talking to his brother in law] I said “Sign up for it mate, you won’t regret it, they’re really good, they help”. And he goes “What do you mean?” I said, “Without that help, we’re left in the dark”, I said, “But these, these help.
I thought the texts were an invaluable source of information. My wife enjoyed them too and I forwarded some messages to her.
What I liked most was the timeliness of the messages. You enter your baby's birth date when you sign up, and then the info you get is about what your baby is going through.
It was nice to get reminders during the week while I was at work about my baby's progress. I also really liked the services to contact me after the 'How are you doing' messages.
When things were tough the texts made me realise that it wasn't just me experiencing these things. I would recommend this service to other new dads.
SMS for dads is so worth doing. It should be automatic for all dads.

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.”