Counselling bid to support marriages

COUPLES with children do not need a $200 voucher for marriage counselling says Orange celebrant Jean Catanzariti, but Catholic priest Father Paul Devitt disagrees. 

Australian taxpayers will foot the bill for newlyweds to attend marriage counselling aimed at strengthening relationships and avoiding divorces.

The $20 million trial will begin on July 1, when couples will be handed a $200 voucher to be used on relationship counselling and education services.

Mrs Catanzariti says by the time couples have children, buy a house and live together they know as much about relationships as they’re ever going to need. 

“For young couples, I think it’s a good idea, but by the time they see me, they know what they want and they usually are not interested in relationship courses,” she said.

Father Devitt said it was important all couples were open-minded about counselling, even couples who had been married for years. 

“Every relationship can be enhanced by doing something together,” he said. 

In order to be married in the Catholic Church, couples must complete a pre-marriage counselling course. 

The scheme will be available to those in any long-term relationship. 

The move is designed to create a more stable home life for children, according to Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews. 

Centacare operates courses every Saturday in Orange, designed to show couples what sort of issues might arise in married life such as problems surrounding finances, child rearing and family conflicts. 

The course gives couples tools to help combat those issues, both Father Devitt and Mrs Catanzariti said. 

“Getting married, for some, can be a big change and people need to know the ups and downs and how it is not yours, it is ours, it isn’t me it is us,” Mrs Catanzariti said. 

“Once you get married it’s important you don’t lose sight of each other.”

From 2007 to 2011 the divorce rate stayed around 2.2 people per 1000, according to the Australian Institute of Family Studies.

This is down from 2.9 in 1996, and well down from the biggest peak of 4.9 in 1976.

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