Men's help group loses funding

SUICIDE rates in the Clarence Valley could rise because of a Federal Government decision not to continue funding a men's suicide prevention group.

Dads in Distress (DIDS) was founded nine years ago by Coffs Harbour man Tony Miller to help guide men through traumatic experiences. In 2001, Grafton became just the second city in NSW to start a DIDS support group.

Local co-ordinators have run DIDS support group meetings in an effort to help Clarence Valley men deal with any type of stressful situation that may lead to suicide or depression.

Mr Miller said four full-time staff will finish up in eight weeks and many DIDS programs will simply wind up.

“The thing that amazes me is that the Government has announced a national men's health policy and here's a group that works to prevent male suicide and they're just letting it go,” he said.

“Yet 69,000 people living overseas are about to receive the Government's economic stimulus package bonus payment.”

Mr Miller said DIDS was working so well that even organisations such as Lifeline and Mensline were referring men.

“We offer a safe place for blokes to come and express their grief. They often don't know who to go to for help,” he said. “The bottom line is that we try to keep these men alive because sometimes they're at the end of their tether.”

One of several Grafton men helped by DIDS is John (surname withheld). John approached DIDS for help after separating from his partner and being told she would restrict access to his son.

“They knew the right people to contact and help me keep contact with my son,” John said.

“They helped me keep a calm head and even went along to the Family Court with me.”

John said it was because of the support of DIDS he eventually gained shared custody of his son.

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