The work of the Centre for Men & Families began as Men Transforming Men (MTM) in 1998 by Rob Jones in Kenmore, QLD. It was established out of the great need to train and equip men to help other men in the community. This work included year-long mentorship programs, community camps, breakfasts, counselling, and Citi -Talk Business leaders’ lunches in Brisbane and the publishing of the first MenToday Magazine.
Along the journey, it became apparent that this work needed to grow and move into the wider community. So, in 2004 Rob stepped away from the security of his own full time work, and together with his wife Sharon, dedicated themselves to the work of MTM. Immediately, two businesspersons stepped up to the plate providing a two-year rent-free lease to MTM and thus began the work in Taringa, in the western suburbs of Brisbane, QLD.
As with many not-for-profits, finances were tight in those early days, so many of the Kenmore community gathered to raise financial support for Rob and Sharon and the work of MTM. These were humbling, yet exciting times. MTM gained not-for-profit charity status in 2004 and began operations under a board of directors.
MTM continued its mentorship and equipping programs. Counselling followed and soon facility space became an issue. The community at the Brookfield Centre in Western Brisbane opened their facilities to MTM and thus began a decade long relationship where the MTM School was planted. This met on Monday nights and soon grew to over 60 men. This was an intentional two-year journey for all men to meet in a safe non-judgemental place. During this time MTM teamed up with many other men’s organisations and regularly visited Parliament House to lobby for men’s issues and funding.
In 2004 Rob contacted the Centre for Action and Contemplation (CAC) in the USA and was immediately received and invited by Father Richard Rohr to their Men’s Rites of Passage. Thus began a relationship that included training and mentoring MTM workers for two years and the establishment of a Men’s Rites of Passage (MROP) in Australia. The relationship grew with the CAC, and MTM began to print and distribute their Radical Grace Journal and manufacture all the Mustard Seed Resources.
In 2008 it became apparent that MTM needed a permanent home, and an architect Steve Turner gave of his time freely and designed and drew up plans for a new centre that could become a place where all the work could be housed and that was easily accessible to the wider community. This would require funding and it became clear that several steppingstones would have to be made before the centre could be properly financed. In 2008, long-term financial supporter offered to include MTM in one of his commercial warehouse developments. So, in 2011 MTM moved to their new facility in Darra and then changed their name to The Centre for Men Australia and gained Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR) status. This meant that donors could now receive a tax deduction for their donations.
In 2010 Rob and Sharon’s son Luke was tragically killed in an industrial accident which eventually led to them both stepping down from the leadership of this work in 2014. Rob and Sharon have continued to be involved with CFMA through their Residential Spiritual Formation programs, mentorship, and counselling.
In late 2013, Richard Fay was appointed as CEO of Centre for Men and Families. Richard came from a background of pastoral ministry, very similar to Rob, with the same heart and ethos for the work, but with different gifts. Richard brought strengths of writing and speaking, which allowed others to hear of the work, including regular radio spots which continue to this day. He also engaged Victorian, South Australian and New Zealand men more in the work and sought to bring a more geographically diverse engagement in the work. The work of CFMA began to take on a great national focus.
The building at Seventeen Mile Rocks was sold in late 2013 to ensure that all tax-deductible giving went towards the work. Under Richard’s leadership, our systems and processed were updated and CFMA introduced the younger men’s rites of passage, which was later renamed as Forged. In 2015, the Centre for Men and Families officially became the Australian chapter of Illuman, an international body established to oversee the work started by Richard Rohr.
In 2020, Richard Fay resigned as CEO of CFMA to focus more on his private counselling practice. However, Richard continues to work for CFMA as the Organisation’s Ambassador. Dan Foster was appointed as the new CEO of CFMA in November 2020 and was charged with the responsibility to forging a way forward for the organisation.