Taxpayers to foot couples' counselling bill

ninemsn staff
5:21am January 23, 2014
January 23, 2014: The federal government is set to trial a plan to offer $200 marriage counselling vouchers to newly-weds after social services minister Kevin Andrews suggested it would save costs.

Australian taxpayers will soon need to 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 and will see couples handed a $200 voucher to be used on relationship counselling and education services.

The scheme will also be available to those in a committed long-term relationship and to same-sex couples.

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Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews believes the move will help create more stability in the home and a better environment for children.

"The evidence shows that strong relationships between parents make a substantial difference to a child," Mr Andrews told the Courier Mail.

"Australian research also constantly 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."

The $200 voucher can be used for marriage and relationship counselling and education, including parenting education, conflict resolution and financial management education.

Relationships Australia counsellor Valerie Holden has welcomed the move.

"There are some things you don't even think about or are not aware of until you get married; your beliefs, your ideas about finances or children," Ms Holden said.

"You are also getting used to living with someone, so there are issues that pop up in that first year that you don't anticipate. Having a place to talk about that is a good thing."

The trial will be evaluated after 12-months.

Source: Courier Mail

Author: Natasha Lee, Approving editor: Matthew Henry

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