“The negative knee-jerk reaction to the Abbott government’s offer of a $200 marriage counselling voucher to couples who are married or are considering a committed relationship, is disturbing,” FamilyVoice national research officer Ros Phillips said today.
“I have yet to see a letter to the editor or columnist praising this initiative – yet it will cost far less than government-funded mammograms and is likely to prevent more suffering and save more money.”
Ros Phillips said mammograms are provided free every two years to women aged 50-70 who want them. “Mammograms can detect early breast cancers when treatment is more likely to result in a cure,” she said. “Only a small percentage of mammograms are positive, yet this government policy is widely applauded. So why don’t we hear loud clapping for free marriage counselling?”
Ros Phillips said Prepare is a popular counselling program where couples separately fill in a detailed questionnaire about their attitudes and expectations in a wide variety of areas. The counsellor analyses the two responses, then talks to the couple about their answers, pointing out differences that could lead to serious conflict later on.
This can come as a shock to many couples who have not discussed such things because they assume that “all you need is (sexual) love”. The counsellor helps them talk through problem areas, but this is not always possible. Some couples decide to postpone or cancel their wedding as a result – but a broken engagement is less painful and damaging than a divorce.
“Marriage and family breakdown is costing taxpayers billions of welfare dollars every year – and the mental health cost to children involved is enormous,” Ros Phillips said.
“Prevention is much better than cure. A counselling voucher for couples who might otherwise go without is a key investment that could pay significant dividends down the track.”
- Marriage and sexuality