Student teachers in new DADEE delivery

Feb 7 2017

Port Waratah CEO Hennie du Plooy and Professor Philip Morgan (right)

The University of Newcastle’s pioneering DADEE (Dads And Daughters Exercising and Empowered) program is entering a new phase involving student teachers to evaluate its broader community impact and cement its sustainability.

DADEE has recruited around 270 fathers and 350 daughters since its pilot research launch in January 2015. As the first program of its type globally, it demonstrated the profound wellbeing benefits of engaging dads in positive lifestyle role modelling and effective parenting strategies.

Through a three-year partnership extension with Port Waratah Coal Services announced today, Physical Education and Primary Education students at the UON can now be taught the program’s philosophies and strategies to become accredited DADEE facilitators.

The new course was proposed by UON Dean of Education Professor John Fischetti after recognising DADEE’s potential to promote gender equity and improve children’s health and social-emotional wellbeing.

“DADEE has had a fantastic and positive impact on families so far and we felt that future teachers should have an understanding of the evidence around the key elements in optimising child development, gender equity and parental engagement,” lead investigator Professor Philip Morgan said.

“To our knowledge, this translational research model hasn’t been implemented anywhere else in the world. Most other programs are funded through government or research trials and their shelf-life is limited by that arrangement, whereas DADEE should be truly sustainable by being embedded as a university course.”

Port Waratah CEO Hennie du Plooy said that a number of employees had been fortunate to participate in the program, which began as a collaboration between the UON, Hunter Medical Research Institute, Port Waratah and the Hunter Children’s Research Foundation.

“The research outcomes and feedback show that both fathers and daughters have improved physical activity levels, and the quality of the relationship is also benefitting,” he said.

“The next phase of the DADEE Partnership aligns with all four of Port Waratah’s community investment objectives. Our goal is to create shared-value for our stakeholders and to seek to make a positive impact by working in partnership to make Newcastle a smart, liveable and sustainable city.

“Transitioning DADEE to a new sustainable model embedded in the Newcastle community, delivering it to an additional 240 fathers and 320 daughters, helps us achieve our goal.”

The DADEE course will run annually at the UON to create a large pool of accredited program facilitators and assistants to draw on. Beyond that, the longer-term goal is to make it a compulsory, flagship subject for all teaching students at the University.

A preliminary version received 40 enrolments last year, while 11 current teachers completed DADEE Facilitator Training as part of their BOSTES (Board of Studies, Teaching and Educational Standards) Professional Development hours.  

Student Stevie-Lee Kennedy said she felt extremely privileged to be involved first-hand with the DADEE program. “It has been the most relevant and eye-opening courses for my teaching as a pre-serviced Health and Physical Education teacher. Completely life changing,” she said.

According to Professor Morgan, the research team will continue to monitor results, looking at the impact of DADEE beyond individual families.

“Facilitators are essential to the program’s success and need to demonstrate their credibility, relatability and likeability, but we have a lot of talented students who embrace this with so much enthusiasm and passion that I’m really excited about the new model,” Professor Morgan added.

“It will be interesting to see how it improves teaching practices as well as the attitudes of  daughters and dads in their schools and workplaces. We want to follow up those who have already done the course to see how it has changed their trajectories.

“Then, hopefully, DADEE could live on forever in the Hunter community and beyond.”

* Professor Philip Morgan is co-director of the University of Newcastle Priority Research Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition, researching in conjunction with HMRI’s Cardiovascular Research Program. DADEE also involves Professor David Lubans, Dr Narelle Eather, Dr Myles Young and Dr Alyce Barnes.