Helping Christians to make a difference
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Helping Christian families to make a difference
Kevin Andrews, the Minister for Social Services in the federal Coalition government, has recently spoken about the 'Relationship Counselling vouchers' that the Coalition government is making available to couples to assist in providing relationship and parenting counselling. The 12 month trial of the vouchers began on July 1, 2014.
Couples can apply online - and 'service providers' involved in relationship counselling can also apply to be registered under the scheme - click here for full details.
The Christian Values Checklist has supported the provision of vouchers for couples considering getting married. Although the current trial provides vouchers for a wider range of relationships, it does provide the opportunity for engaged couples to obtain counselling before getting married. We welcome the scheme, and congratulate Mr Andrews on his recent statements and speech.
Mr Andrews spoke to the Daily Telegraph about the “$200 relationship counselling vouchers”. The article notes that, “New figures reveal 2,982 couples have registered for the trial including several couples over the age of 70.” The trial, which will go for 12 months, offers 100,000 couples the opportunity to apply for a voucher. [All links below]
Mr Andrews said he was pleased with the take-up of the vouchers so far. The SMH report said the government plans to advertise the availability of the vouchers and that this would occur through 'bridal expos, marriage celebrants, churches, Centrelink and Medicare centres'. But the Sydney Morning Herald headline criticised the 'slow start' to the scheme.
The Daily Telegraph said Mr Andrews also spoke about the relative instability of de facto relationships, quoting him saying, “The data shows there is a higher incidence of de facto relationships breaking up". He also mentioned the high cost to governments, particularly in welfare programs, when relationships break down.
Kevin encouraged couples in a de facto relationship to discuss their relationship to ensure that they were on 'the same page', and noted they could use the voucher to help in their analysis. He said, "What a lot of people do is drift into a relationship. They get together. They like each other. They move in together. And then they try and drift along without making a decision. One might think, “this is a pathway to getting married.’’. The other might thing, “I am happy where things are.’’ That’s why I think this Stronger Relationships trial is important.’’
The Daily Telegraph put their own slant on the article by suggesting that Mr Andrews said 'couples living in a de facto relationship should get married' - which they put in their opening statement. Mr Andrews didn't actually say that - we have confirmed that with the Minister's office. However, he did note that the research shows that married relationships are more stable. We are always reminded of the need to be discerning when reading media reports!
The statement about de facto relationships being less stable, and breaking up more quickly, is indeed true - the 2008 Australian government paper 'Families in Australia' stated, "The rate of relationship breakdown is higher for de facto relationships than marriages. De facto couples are three times as likely to end their relationship within a five year period as those who are married (Qu and Weston, 2008)." Source - P 12
Results in the UK have similar results: For example, the UK Marriage Foundation reported in 2013, "Cohabiting couples make up only around 19 per cent of parents, according to Office for National Statistics (ONS) data. However in 2010, they accounted for 48 per cent of family breakdown cases. The wealth of data provided by the Understanding Society survey published this month has enabled the annual rate of family breakdown to be quantified for the first time. While an average of 5.3 per cent of cohabiting couples with dependent children under sixteen years old split up each year since 2009, only 1.3 per cent of equivalent married couples break up."
Kevin Andrews gave a speech about the role of the Australian Institute of Families Studies (AIFS), the state of the family and the proposed trial of vouchers for relationship counselling to the recent AIFS conference.
He commented on the statistical trends (marriage rates have fallen; Divorce and separation has increased; Cohabitation has increased in both prevalence and its dissociation from marriage; Remarriage rates have declined; and sole parent families and children born out of wedlock have increased significantly)
and on the emotional and social impacts (the single mother struggling to raise children on welfare; the father who has lost all contact with his kids; the young women suffering the emotional wallop of a long-term relationship ending; the teenagers struggling to understand their own relationships following the separation of their parents; the couple confronting unresolved, chronic conflict; and the new parents adjusting to the challenges of a newborn child).
Mr Andrews quoted Professor Paul Amato (who was a speaker at the conference):
"Studies consistently indicate that children raised by two happy and continuously married parents have the best chance of developing into competent and successful adults". source
Media Article: Statistics don’t lie: de facto couples living in sin more likely to separate, says Families Minister Kevin Andrews, Daily Telegraph, 3/8/2014.
Address in pdf form with footnotes - click here
Official Australian Bureau of Statistics data:
MARRIAGES, DE FACTO RELATIONSHIPS AND DIVORCES, Year Book 2012.
"SRI cannot and does not take the form of prayer groups, youth groups, clubs, information sessions, or workshops. Legislation requires that Government schools are secular, and the only exception to secular education in government schools is SRI delivered in accordance with the Act, MD141 and this policy. Any other forums or activities as noted above, would constitute promotion of specific religions in schools outside SRI, and are not permitted. For the avoidance of doubt, students engaging in prayer in observation of their religion at lunchtimes is not SRI as there is no element of ‘instruction’. Such prayer cannot be led, conducted by or at the instruction of staff or parents/visitors/volunteers. For further advice please contact the Legal Division.
"Principals must ensure that no religious programs, plays, events or activities run or conducted by any external religious organisations or individuals are offered or provided in government schools during school hours.
"Principals must not permit material, whether associated with SRI or not, to be distributed or displayed at a Government school if that material has the effect of promoting any particular religious practice, denomination or sect. This includes the distribution of religious texts (eg bibles) by any person or organisation whether accredited SRI providers or not.
(4) Nothing in this section prevents any Government school building from being used for any purpose on days other than school days or at hours on school days other than the hours set apart for the instruction of the students.
"providing services with a spiritual content (excluding religious education) including facilitating discussion groups and lunch time clubs if approval and consent for the activities as per Sections 3.1 and 5.2 have been obtained."
"supporting students who express a desire to explore their spirituality. This may include providing guidance about spirituality, values and ethical matters and/or appropriate referral of questions of faith/spirituality."
News on same-sex 'marriage, Islamic jihad, Ian Thorpe and prostitution in WA... overseas, the UK parliament is debating an 'assisted suicide' (euthanasia) law and the California parliament has removed 'husband' and 'wife' from the state's marriage law...
Please don't forget - submissions to the Senate Inquiry on foreign same-sex 'marriages' are DUE by 31 July...
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