Hey dad:

Law student Steve Cochrane and Adult Education graduate Larry Towney, have won this year’s Elizabeth Hastings Memorial Award for Student Community Contribution.

Cochrane and Towney are the co-authors of a successful parenting program for Indigenous men. They first spoke to groups of men in their communities about the need for yarning with families who can provide advice on parenting and role models. The pair slowly built up support for these men and their families and soon after staff from the Department of Community Services approached them to write a parenting guide for Indigenous men. The Department has a Hey Dad! program for non-Indigenous men, which has been very successful.

Cochrane says, “Our book is called Hey Dad! For Indigenous Dads, Uncles and Pops. Fathering is about physically having a child, being a Dad is about the emotional attachment to the child, and Pops are Indigenous grandfathers.

“We consulted with Aboriginal men in the communities in Tamworth and the Central Coast while we were writing the book and trialled our pilot program in Tamworth and Toomelah, on the Queensland/New South Wales border. Hey Dad! For Indigenous Dads, Uncles and Pops groups now operate successfully in Tamworth and other areas in NSW. It is also being trialled in Lithgow Jail.” 

Cochrane and Towney’s work was presented and launched nationally in August at the Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAIC) and the South Australian Men’s Health Conference in Adelaide. Their Hey Dad! For Indigenous Dad, Uncles and Pops program, was funded by the Department of Community Services and produced by Centacare Broken Bay.

The Elizabeth Hastings memorial award for Student Community Contribution was also won by Holly Creenaune for her tireless commitment to a range of social justice and human rights organisations and activities including Indigenous rights, climate change and environmental justice.