“What makes a good father is quality time with your children,” he said.”Not to be selfless, but to be giving and sharing, and dedicate your life to your children.” “My favourite thing about my dad is taking him on the boat and catching dugongs and turtles,” Gideon said. Mr Prior lives in Bowen north Queensland, with his wife and 11 children. I just did what I did,” he said.”These children needed a father in their life, or an uncle in their life.”
Facebook video: Queensland Father of the Year
An atmosphere of safety and freedomJaneen Prior, who nominated her husband of 26 years for the award, said she was encouraged by his ability to create an atmosphere where kids felt safe.”The kids’ friends would come and sleep over and they didn’t want to leave when we’d have to tell them, ‘you’ve got to go home now,'” she said.”I don’t know what their homes were like, but all I knew is that when they came to our house, nobody wanted to leave.””I think he just creates that atmosphere.”While their home is clearly big and happy, Mrs Prior said it was not without struggle.”We lived in a three-bedroom home, [and] we had the five older boys in the main bedroom, the two older girls had their own bedroom, and Gary and I had the three babies with us in the smallest room.””It was always loud — it still is today.”
Janeen and Gary Prior have been married for 26 years. (ABC Tropical North: Harriet Tatham)
Learning about cultureMr Prior said while having a big family was challenging, teaching his children about their Indigenous heritage kept them grounded and connected to one another.”It’s very important to teach your children where you come from, about country and being connected to country.””It’s all part of our Indigenous culture and heritage.”The award-winning father takes his kids regularly out on country to learn traditional stories. (ABC Tropical North: Harriet Tatham)
‘My dad is the best’Mr Prior’s biological children each had a different take on why their father deserved the award.”I love my dad because he swims with his goggles, he’s smart, he can paint neat and he’s brave,” six-year-old Trixie said. (ABC Tropical North: Harriet Tatham)
Mr Prior said his childhood was filled with good, strong men, who taught him the qualities to be a good father. Photo:
Gary Prior has been recognised as 2016 Queensland Father of the Year. “I have seven children of my own — five boys and two girls — and I fostered and brought up my four nephews and nieces,” he said.”Trying to remember all their names at the time is a bit tricky,” Mr Prior said with a laugh.The annual award recognises fathers from across Queensland who have done an outstanding job of raising their children, while contributing to their local community.Aside from his parenting duties Mr Prior volunteers to teach Indigenous culture in schools, helps to run a juvenile detention mentoring program, and works to protect sea turtles from introduced species. Eight-year-old Gideon said this was the best thing about his dad. “My favourite thing about my dad is when he cares about us and when them other kids are sad he just goes and gives them something to make them happy,” said Zion, aged 12.The Prior family also fostered four children from Gary’s sister, who all look up to him like a father.”I like how he can care for other kids like they’re his,” said 17 year-old Josie, who has been fostered by the Prior family alongside siblings Malinda, Ramond and Kieran. “He’s just the best dad anyone could ask for,” said Malinda, 23. While many of us could argue that our own fathers deserve the accolade 2016 Queensland Father of the Year, few could muster up the votes of Gary Prior. Photo:
North Queensland’s Gary Prior has acted as a father-figure to thirteen children, including seven biological and four foster kids. Despite this, Mr Prior said recognition was totally unexpected.”I wasn’t expecting any award or any thank-you for doing what I did. “He’s been the best dad forever,” said five-year-old Eli.
(ABC Tropical North: Harriet Tatham) ABC Tropical North
By Harriet Tatham
September 15, 2016 11:56:23
2016 Queensland Father of the Year cares for 11 children.