Dads Looking Out for Dads
A group of Bondi dads is investing in mateship and community through their monthly support group, Fathers of Bondi. The group, which started five years ago, aims to tackle the loneliness and disconnection that men experience during fatherhood and start a conversation about these issues.
Ian Coker, one of the group’s founders, explained that Fathers of Bondi was formed because he found that community was something that dads didn’t have.
“Mothers, by nature, get together and chat, share experiences and concerns, and through that process, there’s a shared acknowledgement of a new life stage,” Mr Coker said.
“We are 50 years behind them in connecting and discussing social issues because we still think we’re alpha males who don’t need all that, but the rate of men’s suicide would suggest that we’re wrong.”
Beyond Blue estimates that seven of the nine suicides that occur in Australia each day are by males and that one in eight men will experience depression in their lifetime.
Fathers of Bondi started as a bacon and egg barbecue at the park but has since evolved into an evening at the Bondi Bowling Club with guest speakers. Upcoming speakers include a career coach and a men’s personal trainer, and the format is a short talk followed by dinner and conversation.
Mr Coker told The Beast that he believes a man’s role has changed dramatically in the past fifty years and being a dad can now be a much more confusing experience.
“Things have got very complex being a guy in the modern world and we can’t ask our dads because they just have no reference point for that kind of thing. I’m quite happy to admit that I was lonely, but not every guy is because we still think we have to be these alpha males.”
The benefits of connection and community are clear in Fathers of Bondi, with many of the dads’ partners encouraging them to go along because of the positive impact they’ve seen on their spouse. Mr Coker also believes that the group was crucial in the face of lockdowns and the strains of 2020.
“It’s never been more important than now. It was ahead of its time five years ago and now it’s current because of what’s happening and because men aren’t doing well,” Mr Coker said.
“What we see is the importance of shared experience. When you hear someone else is going through something like what you’re going through, it gives you the perspective that you’re not alone.”
“The bowling club give us the piano room for meetings, and in winter we chat around the open fire. It’s a perfect venue for us, we’ve found our home.”
Local dads are welcome to join. If you’re keen to attend you can contact them through the Fathers of Bondi Facebook page and click ‘attending’ on upcoming events. Meetings are on the first Wednesday of the month at 7.30pm.