Director Joshua Lee with Traverse Douglas and sons Dylan and Toby.

WA Documentary, The Fathering Project, Looks at Single Dads Joining Together to Break the Cycle of Negative Parenting

In Armadale, a community of single dads are banding together to break the cycle of negative parenting, in heart-wrenching WA documentary, The Fathering Project, set to premiere on Compass on ABC1 at 6.30pm on Sunday 12 July 2020.

Like many young boys in Armadale, filmmaker Joshua Lee grew up fatherless, in a community where drugs, suicides, crime and violence were commonplace. Having seen many of his childhood friends become part of these harrowing statistics, Josh wanted to understand why the young men from these communities are so often fated to destructive futures.

“As many of my friends started becoming fathers, I began asking myself, how can you be a good father if you’ve never had one?” said director Joshua Lee.

Josh follows a group of single dads, Traverse, Kim, Charlie and Ron as they take part in Australia’s first national preventative program – The Fathering Project – designed to break the cyclical trauma and pain passed on from one generation to the next.

“In what has been described as a fathering crisis in the area, our program addresses the trauma, lack of trust and shame experienced by many men to help them be the best they can be for the benefit of their kids.” said The Fathering Project WA State Manager, Wayne Bradshaw.

Traverse, Kim, Charlie and Ron get to know each other at fortnightly BBQs at a local school, run by The Fathering Project Community Facilitator, David Walker, who provides a support network as well as an opportunity to build friendships and learn about fathering. As their unique journeys begin to unfold, it becomes evident what little help and support has been available to them until now.

Josh’s quest for understanding has resulted in a heart-wrenching personal story that sees him take the plunge and reach out to his own dad in an attempt to make peace with his absence. The Fathering Project explores what it means to be a father in today’s world and provides a unique insight into the modern crisis of masculinity and fatherhood.

“It’s been a pleasure working with Josh on The Fathering Project. It’s a perfect fit as the Compass contribution to ABC’s Your Mental Health initiative running from 6 – 12 July, delivering such powerful insights as West Australian dads get practical help to become better fathers.” said Jessica Douglas-Henry, Series Producer, COMPASS.

“Screenwest was pleased to support this project and we are delighted that it has found a broadcast opportunity with ABC Compass. It will certainly hit home for a number of people and really highlight the impact positive parental support can have on the development of their children.” said Paul Williams, Screenwest Documentary Manager.

Andrew F Peirce

Andrew is passionate about Australian film and culture. He is the co-chair of the Australian Film Critics Association, a Golden Globes voter, and the author of two books on Australian film, The Australian Film Yearbook - 2021 Edition, and Lonely Spirits and the King. You can find him online trying to enlist people into the cult of Mac and Me.

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