Couples are being offered money, so they can attend free marriage counseling sessions before their weddings. The Sydney Morning Herald reports that couples are getting $200 vouchers for the sessions. Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews came up with the idea because he feels marriage is the foundation of society, and couples need to be better prepared for it.
The vouchers will become available in July, but the idea is already controversial in Australia. Although some support the free sessions, others feel that the government is interfering in the lives of the people. The Guardian points out Andrews has published a book about marriage and feels it is the key to rebuilding society.
The program will cost $20 million, but the social services minister believes it will reduce the number of divorces. By decreasing the number of couples who get divorced, the nation will save an estimated $6 billion a year. Andrews uses this point to convince others that the program will pay for itself eventually.
The relationship vouchers are being promoted by various organizations, and couples are being encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity. Some psychologists recommend couples counseling and marriage counseling for people before their weddings because it offers a way to discuss things in a safe setting. It is important for couples to figure out decision making, communication issues and financial concerns before walking down the aisle.
Although the response to the program has been mixed, some couples are grateful for the chance to have free counseling. They may not be able to afford these services on their own, so the vouchers will help them. The program may result in some couples calling off their weddings, but Andrews believes this will be for the best because they may have ended up divorced in the future. The first 100,000 couples will be able to test the program starting in July.