Absent dads study

CRUCIAL STUDY: SCU’s Leah East heads up a joint study with UTS on men who grew up without their fathers present.
CRUCIAL STUDY: SCU’s Leah East heads up a joint study with UTS on men who grew up without their fathers present.

A NEW study at Southern Cross University seeks to identify the effects of growing up without fathers, through divorce or family breakdown, on adult men.

Principal researcher Leah East said the study, in conjunction with the University of Technology, Sydney, sought to gain insights into the experiences of boys growing up in fatherless households.

"Research suggests that people who grow up without a father, as a result of family breakdown through divorce or separation, are exposed to greater life adversity, which can affect their life path," she said.

"Males, in particular, have a greater risk of incarceration if they've grown up in a father-absent home.

"Father absence is associated with other health and wellbeing difficulties like poor school performance, lower self-esteem and early sexual activity.

"The results will be used to inform the development of appropriate services for these now-adult men and their families."

Dr East said her interest in family dynamics began as a child seeing the sometimes devastating effect of absent fathers on her friends.

"I did a study a few years ago on women who grew up without a father and I found it quite fascinating, and I think there's a need for it, particularly when we look at changing family dynamics.

"There are so many divorced parents, and now you have a lot of same sex couples with children so there are now all these new configurations of family.

"If all this research ... is saying father absence is linked to all these adverse consequences, then we need to do something about it."

To participate

  • Men suitable for the study need to fulfil the following criteria:
  • Must be 21 years or older
  • Have grown up with a father absent from the home in childhood and/or adolescence as a result of family discord (divorce or breakdown) for a minimum of four years
  • Be able to spend approximately one hour in an interview, either a face-to-face interview in Lismore or Sydney, or a telephone interview
  • Be willing to discuss your experiences of father absence and reflect on whether father absence has affected your life path
  • To participate, or for more information, contact Andrew Woods on 02 6620 3304,, or Larisa Barnes 0432 730 407,

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