Breakthrough programme to build better dads

By Talisa Kupenga

A programme to support fathers with a history of violence build healthy family relationships aims to help 760 men. The Breakthrough programme, run by The Salvation Army and The Parenting Place, wants to build strong families to live violence free.

Mending broken ties to build stronger families is the core focus of the Breakthrough programme.

Salvation Army’s Breakthrough Manager Jono Bell says, "When the relationship between the child and the dad is strong we're going to see a reduction in violence, more strong kids and better education and health outcomes."

Around 50-60 percent of participants are expected to be Māori, so the three-step course has a Te Ao Māori approach. The stages include a parenting course, a mentoring programme and a father-child adventure experience.

Breakthrough spokesperson Pio Terei says it’s about supporting these men to be better fathers.

"One of the problems these men face is the stigma and shame. They think people only see them as useless and as men who abuse women. Well we've got to get over that shame and rebuild."

Breakthrough spokesperson Sir Michael Jones says although his father was not present he is thankful for his mother, other whanau members and the wider community that contributed to his upbringing.

"It takes a village to raise a child and we want to help these dads be part of that.

"As long as there are good people around, as long as there is good whanau and community around, you can change the cycle."

Facilitators hope to raise $760,000, or $1000 per family, through The Warehouse Group Gala Dinner to run the two-year pilot.

Parenting Place Chief Executive Greg Fleming says, "We focus on upskilling the dad's confidence and ability as a parent and focusing therefore on the quality of the relationship  they have with their children, and the transformation is massive."

Fathers will be referred through The Salvation Army and the programme will start next year.