2019 Victorian Father of the Year Announced

A dad who gave up work to look after his baby boy who was battling cancer has been chosen as the Victorian Father of the Year.

Drouin production planner Chris Youngman was unanimously chosen for the top accolade by YMCA Victoria in association with The Father’s Day Council of Victoria.

The 36-year-old’s story is one of sacrifice, determination and strength against staggering adversity.

It is about an ordinary dad, who constantly puts the needs of his family before himself. And despite the hardships and unknowns the family faces, counts himself as incredibly lucky.

Chris’ 30-year-old wife Alana Youngman nominated him for the award which earned him the title of the 63rd top dad in the state.

In the nomination she wrote: “He kept our whole family together which I feel is saving our son’s life. He has gone far and beyond as a father and a husband. His story is an inspiration to other fathers.”

Chris is the father to 22-month old twins Lucas and Noah and four-year old Ethan. For Alana and Chris, the last few years have been life-changing.

In 2017 the twins were born premature at 27 weeks. They were hospitalised for 10 weeks at The Royal Women’s Hospital, which was an exhausting time physically and emotionally for Chris and Alana. While Alana was recovering from a C-section in Drouin, Chris was dedicated, driving for up to three-hour trips to deliver breast milk to the twins in hospital.

The twins thrived and on their first birthday, Chris and Alana celebrated their milestone at a party at their Drouin home. Six days later, Alana was concerned that Lucas looked pale and unwell. He had bruising along his spine and she took him to the emergency department. The diagnosis was shocking: childhood leukaemia.

Chris said the blow was devastating. “After a tough year, we dared to take a breath. It was brutal.”

Lucas was immediately admitted to hospital and what followed was a whirlwind of doctors, specialists and social workers. Chris resigned from his job at Pure Harvest the day his son was diagnosed with cancer. And for the next nine months while Lucas was in hospital receiving chemotherapy and cancer treatments, Chris hardly left his son’s side.

Over the days and months, Chris noticed how important it was for their brave little battler to be with his twin brother, Noah and older brother Ethan.

Chris described a moment when the boys had spent a few days apart. Lucas was in his hospital bed cocooned in a sterile plastic wrap and the boys were eager to see him.

“The boys reached out and pressed their hands against the plastic to touch Lucas. It was only then that we realised how much they missed each other,” he said.

Chris also noticed Lucas slept and ate better when Noah and Ethan were around. The little boys needed each other. And it was Chris who made this happen.

Alana wrote in her nomination: “Chris has always been there when Lucas woke from bone marrow and lumbar punctures. He held him in his arms for hours on end supporting him through the pain of chemo as well as balancing equal time between all his boys and myself.”

But it wasn’t easy keeping the family together. Chris stretched out his remaining long service leave for income. The family had to move base eight times in nine months. They received minimal government support and were grateful for the fundraising support from the Drouin community and nine-months of accommodation at Ronald McDonald House, which gave them a solid base in the city.

In February the family moved into Alana’s parents in Gembrook and rented out their home to cover the mortgage.

Alana described Chris as ‘the rock,’ during this time.

Drouin local Samantha Harmes has been friends with Chris for 10 years and praised the humble dad. “Not once has he ever complained. He’s never said, ‘I’m so tired,’ or ‘It’s so hard.’ I don’t know anyone like that. I’ve been saying for years, Chris is just one of a kind,” she said.

However Chris describes himself as “just a guy in a family, in a situation that we didn’t ask for, just doing my best.”

Lucas is now out of hospital but still has lumbar punctures and bone marrow treatments every four to six weeks. He is currently in remission and quickly developing as a cheeky 22-month-year-old, but the family knows his future is unknown. This, for them, is the hardest thing.

Despite this, Chris and Alana are thankful for their good luck and support of family, friends and the Drouin community. Chris is now working a few days a week. He describes the traumatic experience as “giving me a good dose of perspective.”

“It’s surprising what you can do when you have to,” he said, “Being a dad, it’s something you don’t realise how hard it is until you do it, but it’s really rewarding.”

Chair of The Father’s Day Council Barry Novy said the award recognised the importance of fathering and family life.

“The Council and YMCA received more than 220 nominations from across the state for an outstanding father figure.
“Chris is a dad who has showed great strength and resilience when faced with hardship. He is a father trying to give his family the best life, despite the obstacles. He is a true role model.”

City of Melbourne Deputy Lord Mayor Arron Wood said he felt fortunate to attend the Victorian Father of the Year award ceremonies:

“It’s incredibly moving to hear stories of fathers and carers that have played an integral role in shaping the lives of youngsters across our state. As a father-of-two I know the challenges that come with parenting and have experienced the days when you wish there was a handbook or instruction guide.

“We are all doing our best and I am in awe of the fathers and father figures that have faced extreme challenges and remained an inspiring role model for their kids,” he said.

Since 1956, The Father’s Day Council of Victoria has chosen a Victorian Father of the Year, to celebrate and recognise the important role fathers and father-figures play in family life. For the past 14 years the YMCA has partnered with the Council and co-ordinated the Local Community Father of the Year in every region where there is a YMCA. The Father’s Day Council of Victoria considers all Local YMCA Community Father of the Year recipients when choosing the winning dad. Chris joins a long list of past top dads including: Bob Hawke, Andrew Gaze and Bert Newton.

Is your dad the best in Victoria? Nominate him!

What are you getting your dad for Father’s Day? How about an award money can’t buy?

The Father’s Day Council and YMCA Victoria are on the hunt for the Victorian Father of the Year, an honorary award to celebrate the important role dads and father figures have in their community and for the young people in their lives.

These dads and father figures positively contribute to a young person’s physical, emotional and social wellbeing.

Think your dad’s the best? Nominate your dad or father figure by filling out our online form by August 11th.

Now in its 63rd year the Victorian Father of the Year award is a chance for families and communities to acknowledge the often unrecognised commitment and support fathers and father figures provide.

Nominate your dad now!

2018 Victorian Father of the Year Announced

Sachi (daughter), Sunny (Victorian Father of the Year), Sally Capp (Lord Mayor of Melbourne),  Kiran (Wife)

YMCA Victoria in association with the Father’s Day Council of Victoria has announced 49-year-old Melbourne man Sandeep “Sunny” Jadhav as the Victorian Father of the Year for 2018.

This is the 62nd Year the Victorian Father of the Year has been awarded.

Sunny’s story is about a father and father-figure who continues to go above and beyond for thousands of young people, always with a positive attitude. He is passionate and dedicated to mentoring the next generation of Australia’s brightest doctors, surgeons, pilots and engineers.

Nominated by Sunny’s two teenage daughters, 13-year-old Sachi and 16-year-old Khushi, they wrote, “Our dad always says ‘think outside the box and if you cannot think outside the box then you should make the box bigger.’

“Our dad is a real life superhero. He doesn’t wear a cape though because he wears the army uniform.”

Born in Nagpur, India, Sunny immigrated to Australia in 1996 and has lived in Melbourne for over 10 years, prior to this he lived in Sydney. Although he works tirelessly as a Land Maintenance System Electrical Engineer for the Defence Force, his true joy comes from teaching and inspiring others in maths, science and engineering subjects.

For over 15 hours a week, for the past 16 years, Sunny has tutored primary school aged kids, VCE and university students and army officers from all cultures and backgrounds. All of this time and effort is voluntary. Sunny currently has about 200 mentees, all of which have come through word-of-mouth and personal connections.

Sunny’s motivation to help and give back to the community goes beyond his home and workplace. His wife Kiran says it is difficult to go to the local shopping centre in Yallambie without stopping every five minutes because someone wants to ask him something.

“We will get in a taxi and he will start helping the taxi driver out. He doesn’t just give advice, he gives connections. He will say: ’I’ve got a friend at Centrelink, or, I know this great job going and can speak to them.’ He shares his networks. He just loves to help.

“He’s a dad to everyone.”

And despite approaching 50, Kiran jokes that he acts like he is 25 and admits that “sometimes I think he should calm down.”

Shruti’s 9-year-old son has been mentored by Sunny for four years. She says his passion and dedication to young people is admirable.

“We weren’t looking for a tutor but a mentor. He is great role model and very involved with the kids. He travels a lot for work, but you never see him stressed out. He’s always calm and friendly.”

This father-figure role Sunny plays does not go unrecognised by his daughters, who wrote in their nomination:

“We love our dad so much because he does so much for the community. We feel proud when we meet his students whom he helped with studies and mentoring.”

Many of Sunny’s students have gone onto become pilots, surgeons, doctors and scientists across Australia. And some have helped him when he needed it most.

When Sunny’s wife Kiran was in hospital in 2014 he was surprised to discover a former mentee was the endocrine specialist treating his wife.

“I was in tears to see my mentee as the briefing surgeon,” Sunny said.

As well as being a dad to others, Sunny is dedicated to his family. He takes his daughters for runs twice a week at 5.15am, cooks breakfast for the family, makes his wife chai tea, drops off and picks up his daughters from school, helps them with their a homework. In the summer months he plays cricket with his family.

Sunny says mentoring and being a positive role model to his daughters inspires him every day:

“It gives me purpose in my life and satisfaction. I just love maths and science and the application to the outside world and teaching this to others.

“You need to be passionate about what you do – and I am fortunate that I am!”

As well as being a huge advocate for the importance of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects in Australia, Sunny believes voting should be lowered to 16 to ensure we are listening to the voices of young people and keep them engaged and involved in politics and policy making.

“They absolutely understand what is right and wrong for them,” he said.

Sunny also has a great sense of humour and love for cricket, “Cricket is one of the main reasons I moved to Australia. I idolised Alan Border and David Boon. I used to have a moustache just like Boonie!”

Chair of the Father’s Day Council Barry Novy said the award celebrates and acknowledges the often unrecognised commitment and support fathers and father-figures provide in our communities. He said in the 62nd Year of the Victorian Father of the Year he was honoured to present the award to a father who goes above and beyond for others.

“The Council and YMCA received over a thousand nominations from across the state for an outstanding father figure.

“We look for a father or father figure who is dedicated to the young people in their lives. Sandeep is an incredible dad and mentor for many. He is a true role model, who inspires the next generation of Australia’s brightest young people.”

Since 1956, the Father’s Day Council of Victoria has named a Father of the Year for Victoria, to celebrate and recognise the important role fathers and father-figures play in family life. For the past thirteen years the YMCA has partnered with the Council and co-ordinated the local YMCA Community Father of the Year in every region where there is a YMCA. The Father’s Day Council of Victoria considers all YMCA Community Father of the Year recipients when selecting the Victorian Father of the Year as well as nominations directly submitted to the Council.

Calling all super dads! Nominations now open for 2018 Victorian Father of the Year

Jason Stack 2017
2017 Winner Jason Stack with his family

YMCA Victoria and the Father’s Day Council of Victoria are searching for superhero fathers, and father figures for the 2018 Victorian Father of the Year award.

Now in its 62nd year Father’s Day Council Acting Chair Peter Burns said the award is a chance for families and communities to acknowledge and celebrate the often unrecognised commitment and support fathers and father figures provide.

“The Victorian Father of the Year is a state-wide search for a dads or father figures who are truly superheroes; but without the capes and tights.

“Countless research shows a positive male role model is crucial to a child’s social, emotional and physical wellbeing. These role models will do anything for the children and young people in their lives, often completely unnoticed and unasked,” he said.

YMCA Executive Officer Michelle Bruggeman encourages everyone to nominate the superhero in your life.

“Whether that’s your dad, uncle, step-father, teacher, coach or pa. What could be a better Father’s Day present than the opportunity to be recognised as the Victorian Father of the Year?”

Recent Victorian Father of the Year winners include Geelong father-of-three Jason Stack, who supported his family after the tragic death of his wife and Eltham dad-of-two Terry Mitropoulos who survived severe brain tumours.

Since 1956 the Father’s Day Council has named a Victorian Father of the Year with the support of YMCA Victoria. The YMCA founded Father’s Day in 1910 in the USA.

Nominations close 8 August, 2018.

Jason Stack awarded 2017 Victorian Father of the Year award

Jason Stack 2017
From left to right: Adele Stack, Courtney Stack, 2017 Victorian Father of the Year recipient Jason Stack, Kyralee Stack, and Jason’s parents Gloria and Kerry.

YMCA Victoria in association with the Father’s Day Council of Victoria this morning announced 46-year-old Geelong resident Jason Stack as the Victorian Father of the Year for 2017.

Jason becomes the 61st Father to win this prestigious award in recognition of his resilience and commitment to family through adversity.

Nominated by his 14-year-old daughter Adele, she wrote, “My dad is my best friend. He is a powerful and amazing man and I look up to him every day.”

For Adele and her sisters, 16-year-old Kyralee and 19-year-old Courtney, Jason is the reason why their family has not only survived, but has overcome adversity and inspired them to live each day to the fullest.

In 2013, three days before Mother’s Day, Jason’s wife Kim attempted to take her own life. There were no signs or symptoms of mental illness.

After 12 days in intensive care and another three months in hospital, Kim did not recover fully and required full-time care. She spent the next three years of her life in a nursing home, visited frequently by her loving family who struggled to come to terms with the mother they had lost, suddenly and unexpectedly.

Sadly, Kim passed away last year.

The trauma and heartbreak felt by the family, and that they continue to feel is unimaginable. Yet despite this Jason has strived to provide stability and care for his three daughters to ensure they continue to live their lives and aspire to positive futures.

In his speech this morning, Jason said, “Losing their mum is not what defines us.”

Every day Jason wakes at 5am and works tirelessly at his two businesses in Geelong, an electrical contracting business and a part-owned building business. Despite often working 15 hours days, when he returns home he cooks dinner and spend time with his family. He is heavily involved with community events such as school functions and has been a volunteer as the Netball President of the Newtown and Chilwell Football and Netball Club for the last two years. He also takes his role as both mum and dad seriously, maintaining a good sense of humour he helps his daughters go bra shopping and chats openly about other girl issues.

Business partner and close friend Glenn Hammond said the award is well-deserved, “Jason always put the girls first. I don’t know how he does it all.”

This was evident in Jason’s remarks today as he accepted the award at Melbourne Town Hall.

“My three daughters are my heroes. Today is about them, not me.”

14-year-old daughter Adele thinks of her father as a super hero, she wrote in the nomination: “I don’t know in this world where I would be if I didn’t have him in my life. Somehow my dad is such a strong and happy person.

“With everything that goes on in our life, my dad has shown when life gets you down, you have to get up stronger and fight back. This is what my dad has done and has taught me for the last four years. “

As a result of their dad’s guidance and perseverance to enjoy their lives, Adele and Kyralee are thriving in their studies and are active in community sports. Courtney is currently studying medicine at Melbourne University.

Jason is an incredibly selfless and generous person and is open to share his story to promote suicide and mental health awareness, “I never, ever, thought I would be in this situation. If sharing this story can stop anyone from taking their life, it’s worth it.”

“I hope I can help promote good mental health and suicide awareness. I always encourage my girls to reach out and seek help when they need it, like I have.”

Chair of the Father’s Day Council and YMCA Victoria CEO Peter Burns said the award recognised the importance of fathering and family life. He said in the 61st Year of the Victorian Father of the Year he was honoured to present the award to a father who goes above and beyond for their family.

“The Council and YMCA received more than 1100 nominations from across the state for an outstanding father figure.

“We look for a father or father figure who is dedicated to their family, who embraces fatherhood and inspires others. Jason represents an extraordinary father who has overcome adversity and continues to guide his daughters, a father who is doing the best he can.”

Since 1956, the Father’s Day Council of Victoria has named a Father of the Year for Victoria, to celebrate and recognise the important role fathers and father-figures play in family life. For the past twelve years the YMCA has partnered with the Council and co-ordinated the local YMCA Community Father of the Year in every region where there is a YMCA. The Father’s Day Council of Victoria considers all YMCA Community Father of the Year recipients when selecting the Victorian Father of the Year as well as nominations directly submitted to the Council.

If you have been affected by this story please contact Lifeline, Suicide Call Back Service, Kids Helpline or MensLine Australia.

Lifeline 13 11 14 http://www.lifeline.org.au
Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467 http://www.suicidecallbackservice.org.au
Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800 http://www.kidshelpline.com.au
MensLine Australia 1300 78 99 78 http://www.mensline.org.au

NOMINATIONS NOW OPEN 2017 VICTORIAN FATHER OF THE YEAR

YMCA Victoria and the Father’s Day Council of Victoria is searching for exemplary fathers, and father figures for nomination for the 2017 Victorian Father of the Year award.

Father’s Day Council Acting Chair Peter Burns said, “The Victorian Father of the Year Award acknowledges fathers and father figures who have an extraordinary impact on children’s lives”.

“There are many dads, and their surrogates across the state, whose dedication to raising resilient children goes unrecognised despite the fact that raising a child is one of life’s most precious gifts.”

“For these children and families, their Dads are superheroes. Always there when they’re needed, interested in their children’s lives and putting themselves and their needs second.” Mr Burns said.

YMCA Executive Officer Michelle Bruggeman said the award recognises and celebrates fathers and positive male role models.

“We are not just looking for dads; we’re seeking nominations for father figures, it could be an uncle, a step-father, a grandfather or a teacher.”
“Anyone can nominate. If you have a dad or father figure who goes the extra mile we want to hear from you!” Bruggeman said.

Nominations close 11th August, 2017.

Nominate here.

Vale Don Parsons

We are saddened to learn of the passing of Chair of the Father’s Day Council, Don Parsons on 22 April 2017.
Don was a compassionate, kind and caring man. We miss you deeply; your leadership, your stories and your wisdom.

Father’s Day Council of Victoria & YMCA