Joel was a hands-on dad to his beloved little girl, Millie.

Millie’s mum worked full-time, so when their daughter was small, Joel was a stay-at-home-father, spending his time feeding, sleeping and playing with Millie. But things grew difficult between Joel and his partner, and they separated bitterly, just before he was incarcerated.

Their strained relationship and his imprisonment led to only sporadic connection between Joel and his daughter for the next six years. He grieved the loss of his identity as a father and partner.

But instead of feeling sorry for himself, Joel used his introspection to delve into his past and to understand himself better.

He started seeing VACRO’s family counsellor, who helped him learn more about himself. When the time was right, the counsellor approached Joel’s ex-partner, who said she would support more regular contact between Joel and Millie if both parents could learn to communicate better. Our counsellor suggested a child-focused family session, including the whole family.

In the session, Millie was able to express her fears, and hear reassurance from both of her parents. After the session, Millie and Joel started speaking regularly on the phone. Joel and Millie’s mum, meanwhile, agreed to continue sessions with VACRO’s family counsellor after his release, to make sure they were working together as best they could to strengthen the bond between Joel and his daughter.

When Joel lost his identity as a hands-on dad, he could have given up. But his love for his daughter and his ex-partner’s commitment to do the best thing for their girl meant Joel could continue to work on himself during his sentence, with a strong and supportive relationship with his girl to guide him.

We’ve changed Joel’s name and some identifying details of his story to protect his privacy. Learn more about how our family programs support people like Joel to achieve their goals.

More information about VACRO's family programs