1. DIDSS is father-centred but child-focussed.
While Dads in Distress Support Services (DIDSS) by its very name appears to be focused mainly on supporting men through separation from their partner and/or children, we actually have the health, safety and well-being of ALL the family uppermost in our mind. As a harm-prevention charity it saddens us that in our modern society of Australia there are men, women and children who are being harmed, and harming one another, in the very place where love and kindness should prevail. As a peer support organisation, we encourage each other to keep in contact with our children no matter how hard that can be. Inevitably those children will want to know their dad. We also encourage men to continue with emotional and financial support of their families for the sake of their children.
2. We encourage men to take responsibility for their actions or inaction.
Rather than denigrate and blame women or the system or society, we encourage men to look in the mirror to understand and accept their contribution to the breakdown of their family. There is a time and place for addressing perceived injustices in the system but we believe fathers serve their children, themselves and society best by focussing on their own situation and making it work as best they can for all involved. We discourage men from the common tendency of wanting to vindicate themselves by denigrating the mother of their children. This does the children great harm. Even if it is perceived that a mother is having a negative impact on the father or the children, it does not make it right for fathers to behave in a similar manner.
3. We simply guide men to become the cause of their future and not be the result of their past.
In life we cannot always avoid being hurt. But we can choose to be bitter and resentful – full of pessimism and despair OR to be better, stronger, wiser. By the nature of the support we provide, men learn how to handle the complexities of being a weekend dad, or a dad who is prevented from having contact at all. They learn how to handle the discouragement, loneliness and depression. They learn how to handle the sorrow and help them adjust to parenting from a distance. They learn how to work with the system and be proactive in achieving a better outcome for their children and themselves.
4. We provide hope.
Our meetings are not pity parties. Yes, we visit our pain but we don’t live there. We move through our grief and get focussed on the future. By collaborating rather than colluding we are able to help men find their way in the darkness. They come to the acceptance that life will never be the same as it was before and they need to adjust and make the most of what they have. We remind men that in most cases contact with their children will be restored, and that their relationship with their children may actually become better, richer, deeper than it was before the separation. While each volunteer can assist the cause in many different ways according to their aptitude and skill set, this ability to provide hope is the essential quality that everyone working in DIDSS must have, and must cultivate.
5. We work in collaboration with others
DIDSS recognises it is merely one service among many that fathers and families need before, during or after the separation process. As a peer support agency DIDSS can provide genuine empathy and compassion that many appreciate, because it comes from people who have also experienced the distress, pain and confusion of separation themselves. While DIDSS has been developing its professionalism as an organisation, and DIDSS staff and volunteers are embracing an increasing amount of training, it is not a one-stop-shop for everyone going through separation.
Hence we make it a priority to identify the specific needs of the father and his family and link them into other appropriate services and supports as soon as possible. DIDSS also demonstrates this ‘early intervention approach’ by having the capacity in most situations to provide intensive support immediately while fathers and families, even those with complex needs, are on waiting lists to access professional services elsewhere.
To enhance this collaborative emphasis DIDSS representatives are increasingly involved in networks, partnerships and joint ventures within the sector to ensure seamless referral pathways and healthy coordination of services. We work hard at engaging people who often have no knowledge or experience of the system so they get the help they need. We are committed to the ideal that there should be no wrong door for people seeking help at arguably the most vulnerable stage of their lives.