How we started out
Tony Miller OAM
Founder 'Dads in Distress', Fathers day 1999
We started out as Dads in Distress, on Father’s Day 1999. Our founder was Tony Miller OAM. Back then, we operated one dads group that met periodically on a veranda in Coffs Harbour, NSW.
Tony kicked off the group after he could not find any support that he needed as a recently separated and highly distressed dad; in fact it led him to contemplate taking his own life more than once. Others heard about his work and they volunteered to set up their own local groups.
Over the years, mums too started to come to our groups for support, so we widened our work to include mum support and, in 2017, we rebranded to Parents Beyond Breakup. We continue to operate a front line support service called Dads in Distress (alongside one called Mums in Distress) but our focus is where the greater lack of national support continues to exist – that is with separated dads.
Two decades on and we’ve expanded our services to include a telephone helpline, LiveChat helpline, online forum and local ‘one to one’ mentors.
Our core ethos remains today as strongly as it did back in 1999, to provide support free and to utilise where possible only peer volunteers all of whom have been through it themselves. This makes all the difference when you’re all out of money, and trust. Although we are in small part funded by government, we continue to operate on very limited funds and rely heavily on the generosity of the public, trusts and corporate donors.
Tony Miller OAM
Message to Parents Beyond Breakup from Tony Miller who founded Dads in Distress 23 years ago on fathers day 1999. Thank you Tony for saving lives.
The circle of support
All our peer support meetings are held in a circle, online groups in a metaphorical circle, signifying that all attending the group are equal, with no judgement or control, and that all are gathered with the clear intention of supporting each other. The circle represents the cycle of life, the circle of support and life’s continuation– with no beginning or end–and the honour, intentions, and goals of all who attend to collectively benefit from the energy, care, empathy and lived experience of the group.
The empty chair
We keep an empty chair at each of our meetings. Each meeting is started with one minute silence to think about those who could not be in the meeting that day:
- In honour of those who are yet to seek our support,
- of those who no longer need our support,
- and in memory of those who have been lost along the way.
From the very first meeting a symbolic speaking object was used–the Rock. Whoever is holding the Rock is the one to hold the floor and to speak. All other participants give their respectful attention, allowing each participant to have the space to speak uninterrupted. The holder of the Rock is invited to share their personal truth. PBB honours Volunteers who have facilitated and committed to groups for more than12months with personalised engraved rocks for use in the groups.
Parents beyond breakup
Our focus is the prevention of suicide in separating parents
Our tagline is keeping parents alive, and in their kids lives
We are non ideological, non political, gender neutral and gender inclusive.
We do not do ‘activism’.
We are often asked to provide policy makers high quality and unbiased factual information that they need to make better decisions about the areas in which we operate.