A Greenough dad has been reunited with his family just in time for Father’s Day. Mark Bennett was helping build wind turbines in regional Victoria when restrictions around movements due to risk of COVID-19 began. Unable to leave his work straight away, he was locked out of WA and away from his family by the hard border. “Good on them for being tough,” he said. But he didn’t want to be stuck away from home in rainy Victoria indefinitely. He applied for an exemption to cross the border three times, but all his requests were denied. Once the South Australian Government announced it would be closing its borders to Victoria in July, Mr Bennett decided to get in his car and drive to Mt Gambier. He spent his birthday alone in South Australia under strict quarantine. “The family called and sung me happy birthday over FaceTime,” he said. He submitted the paperwork required to cross the WA border three times before it was eventually approved. Mr Bennett was on the next flight to Perth, and touched down at 9pm on August 13. Without a second to rest, he headed north to Greenough by private car. His family had already moved out so Mr Bennett could play it safe and complete his government-mandated self-isolation period on his rural property. Six weeks after he first applied to cross the border, Mr Bennett was finally home. For another 14 days, he was separated from his family, with just the company of the family dog Pippa and a friendly check-in from local police to ensure he was obeying his quarantine restrictions. Just over a week before Father’s Day, he reunited with his family. August 28 was a chilly morning. Geraldton was blanketed in fog, but it was warm at the back of the local cafe where Mr Bennett reunited with his wife Lorena and three of their four adult children — Calah, Chelsea, and Tom. Unfortunately, their eldest son James works interstate and missed the family reunion. The family doesn’t have any big plans for Father’s Day. “Just spending time together will be enough,” Mr Bennett said. Dads make a difference It is hard to overstate the value of fathers and father figures, according to The Fathering Project. The WA-founded organisation released a literature review this week that praised “warm”, “involved” and “supportive” dads and father figures. “Research has shown unequivocally that fathers have a profound impact on their children’s lives, and in our programs for fathers across the country, we work with dads to help them understand and achieve their critical role,” chief executive Kati Gapaillard said. The report found good fathers and father figures led to better academic outcomes and mental health.