By STEVE GRAY
CHARLIE Rowe is a man on a mission. Not the old missions where Indigenous Australians were herded for the convenience of Europeans – he’s on a thoroughly modern mission to take his people forward.
Mr Rowe knows that parents lead by example. That’s why he runs Strong Fathers, Strong Families – a program encouraging Indigenous males to play an active role in family life and to set an example for their children.
“The Strong Fathers, Strong Families program is to promote the role of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander dads, pops and uncles to be healthy role models and engage fully in the child’s life as early as possible,” he said.
“It’s engaging with one another and sharing each other’s journeys of fatherhood.”
The program, run under the auspices of Carbal Medical Centre, comprises six sessions of three hours in a “yarning circle” format of eight to nine participants of mixed ages.
Some will be young men who are about to be or have just become fathers; the middle-aged who have experience of fatherhood; and elders.
“Elders were brought up in that Stolen Generation time, so it’s totally different to where we are now,” Mr Rowe said..
From understanding the milestones in a child’s life to helping out around the house to not smoking around children, the program is about positive lessons in life.
“It’s not about dads being bad parents, it’s just giving them an extra bit of education or tools to be a better role model,” Mr Rowe said.
“Kids see what mum and dad are doing, and if mum and dad are doing things that are positive, they’ll know that and accept that and hopefully carry it on through their teenage years and adulthood into their own families.
“How you act teaches your kids how to act when they grow up.”
The Carbal Medical Centre program is now a nationally-recognised Australian benchmark.
Mr Rowe is hoping to bring his Strong Fathers, Strong Families program to Warwick and Stanthorpe.
Those interested can contact Clare McHugh at Warwick’s Carbal Medical Centre on 0408 821 052.
Carbal’s Medical Outreach Boomerang, or MOB van will visit Warwick in February.
The centre is also hoping to run the Strong Fathers, Strong Families course in Warwick in February, provided there is sufficient interest.
“If I can change one person through this program, I can die a happy man,” Mr Rowe said.