A new initiative from the federal government will see newlyweds receive a $200 voucher for marriage counselling from 1 July.
With nearly half of Australian marriages ending in divorce, the scheme hopes to help maintain family structures through counselling sessions, resulting in stability for children and a more positive environment for families.
The $200 subsidy can be used for conflict resolution, financial management education and parenting education, and is available to couples in a committed relationship (including same-sex couples), but the focus is aimed at couples intending to marry.
“Evidence shows there are positive results for couples and families when they have been equipped with the skills to manage difficult times as well as the benefits of help seeking behaviour during difficult periods in relationships,” says Mat Rowell, Chair of Relationships Australia’s National Board.
Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews says $20 million has been set aside to fund the program which will be reviewed after a year.
“The evidence shows that strong relationships between parents make a substantial difference to a child,” says Andrews. “Australian research also consistently finds that marriage and relationship education assists committed, married, engaged or cohabiting couples to move through the phases of their relationship with improved relationship skills, strengthening relationships for up to five years.”
Since marriage breakdown is estimated to cost Australia $6 billion a year preventative measures could be the answer – but not everyone is happy with the new legislation.
The scheme will help newlyweds in the period of transition and is welcomed by relationship counsellors who say the first year of marriage can present unforeseen challenges about differences in beliefs and expectations for the future.