Brendon’s first Father’s Day: embracing the responsibility of fatherhood
Brendon Lewis is a recent first-time father and Aboriginal caseworker for Wesley Brighter Futures—working in his own community with children and young people at risk, and helping families rebuild and stay together. As he plans his first Father’s Day, Brendon is in a unique position to reflect on the role fathers play in the lives of young people; and the importance of role models, especially for young men whose fathers are not present or active in their lives.
Because Brendon has been on both sides of the fence.
"My father died when I was 17. When I left school, I was in a mentor group and it helped me just having an older role model. Someone to help work out where you were going in life.”
Brendon has been with Wesley Mission for eight months, and a social worker in his community for 10 years. Through Wesley Brighter Futures, Brendon and fellow Aboriginal Caseworker Skye Pettit, work alongside families in Blacktown and Baulkham Hills. They help families rebuild and create safe nurturing environments so they can work past their challenges and stay together.
Growing up in Mount Druitt, Brendon says, “I was a disadvantaged black fella as well. But you can do it. You take baby steps and you can do anything you put your mind to.
“My mentors brought me into reality – they helped me see where my life was going.”
And as someone who benefitted from a role model in his own youth, Brendon sees a big part of his job as providing that opportunity to the young people he works with.
“A father encourages his son, gives him that sense of accomplishment when he does something right.
“So that’s what we want to do for the people we work with. It’s all about being positive.”
But too often, Brendon says, he sees fathers who think, ‘it’s not my responsibility’. “They are just living their own lives and not taking up the responsibility of fatherhood,” Brendon says.
“Being a first time father is the best thing that has happened to me. Waking up every day and seeing all the little things he does—clapping, smiling, wriggling around. And then I think: a lot of the families we work with are missing out on that.”
“Babies can’t fend for themselves, so fathers need to be mindful of that, they need to embrace fatherhood, embrace the responsibility.”