Steve ‘Commando’ Willis New Karitane Ambassador
We are so excited to announce Steve ‘Commando’ Willis as ambassador for Karitane. His honesty and passion about his role as a parent, a dad, the importance of connection and wellbeing is so aligned to Karitane’s purpose - advocating for and supporting families and young children, building parent capacity, enhancing parent-child relationships, and strengthening a family's connection with supports inside their community.
Our announcement coincides with Father’s Day 2020 as families around Australia celebrate their dads, whom over the last few months of navigating the COVID-19 pandemic have been more present at home with their children and are sharing more parenting duties – be it keeping young ones entertained at home, home-schooling, or doing exercise and sporting activities together.
“We are truly excited about partnering with Steve whose commitment to fatherhood and wellbeing is so aligned with our purpose at Karitane – enhancing parent-child relationships, strengthening family connections and supporting the mental health of mums and dads alike,” said Grainne O’Loughlin, CEO, Karitane.
“Steve is passionate about the importance of balancing his career with being present with his children. He is the the embodiment of today’s modern working dad who also appreciates the rewarding, and at times challenging journey of being a parent,” Grainne O’Loughlin added.
Research confirms the early years of a child’s life shapes their future and dads play a critical role in their child’s development – children with emotionally invested dads show better well-being, cognitive development and social competence.
Willis, who first became a father at the raw age of 22 says, “I was young and more focused on my work in the army, and not nearly as involved as I should have been.”
Today, the father of four – to Brianna (21), Ella (12), Jack (8) and Axel (4) – says his approach to fatherhood is worlds apart from where it was previously: “Being a dad is about showing love and affection – I’m always giving my kids hugs and kisses and telling them how much I love them. I feel that’s something I lacked in my own childhood and it definitely had an impact on the more intimate aspects of my life.”
Willis will work with Karitane to share the message of the evolving role of dads, the importance of their emotional connection with their children, balancing career with parenting, how to navigate fatherhood when there’s a change in the family unit or within a blended family, as well as not being afraid to seek support.
“At Karitane, we celebrate the evolving role of dads in today’s society and look forward to building this long-term relationship with Steve, whereby together, we hope to reach more dads in our communities and support them to be the dad they want to be,” said O’Loughlin.
“I'm excited to join the Karitane family as their newest ambassador, as they near 100 years of service to the Australian community. It’s important, to me, to celebrate the special and close relationship between fathers and children and shouldn’t just be limited to Father’s Day – we should make sure we show how much we care about our children every day.” said Willis of the announcement.
“Very much like exercise and fitness, where you throw yourself at a physical challenge and slowly over time it becomes second nature, parenting is much the same – you’re not going to immediately have all the answers, which is where Karitane help. Their purpose is to support parents (and dads!) by providing practical parenting strategies in order to help them enjoy and see the beauty in life as a parent,” Willis added.
For more of Steves story see here.
Willis joins long time Karitane Patron Ita Buttrose, who has been involved with Karitane since 2013.