New dads only group launches on Sunshine Coast
A BUNCH of Sunshine Coast dads armed with nappies, dummies and prams are turning to each other for support rather than battling the unknowns of fatherhood alone.
While traditional mums groups have been around for years, the group says there is little space for a similar men's concept.
Mt Coolum's Thomas Docking set about changing that landscape when he unexpectedly became a father five years ago.
He started Dads Group Inc while living in Victoria and recently launched Dads of Coolum to address new dads' physical and mental health.
The men meet with their newborns or toddlers for a coffee each Saturday.
"Other than simply being dads, we have no agenda, we just meet for a coffee and time with the kids together," Mr Docking said.
The Coolum group has grown to 130 members.
"It really helps form important relationships," Mr Docking said.
"It boosts confidence of the fathers and educates them too," he said.
"Many of the dads previously felt isolated or weren't sure how to cope with everything. The peer group is important.
"Some of the dads have gone through rough stuff too, separation, divorce, anxiety, lost jobs. This helps."
Member for Ninderry and father of two, Dan Purdie, said the group would help strengthen families as a unit.
He said groups like Dads of Coolum played vital roles within the community, particularly given the amount of young families moving to the Coast.
"It's great to see men taking an active role in raising their families, and having access to a network of peers for mateship and support," Mr Purdie said.
"Sometimes new dads can feel a bit overwhelmed, especially in those first few years when parenthood can be such a steep learning curve, and I think it's a good initiative to help them be better fathers and better husbands.
"Anything that encourages men to take an active role and offers help and advice can only be a good thing."
Mr Docking and his wife Kate were planning a trip around the world, when little Evelyn, 4, "surprised" them.
Now, his three children accompany him to the weekly meetings, giving Kate a break.
"Sometimes it gets to 29 minutes, and we haven't had an incident I laugh," he said.
"Some men don't understand how hard it is to raise a child alone. It opens their eyes a little bit.
"A lot of men say they go back home and are able to communicate with their spouse better. It makes them respect more.
"It helps mums as much as dads, and helps them become a unit."
He said a new group would soon open in Noosa, adding to the 100 already in existence.