Latrobe Valley couples seeking to tie the knot or after a relationship check-up may be able to receive free education and counselling.
As part of a Federal Government trial titled Stronger Relationships, which began on Tuesday, up to 100,000 Australian couples in long-term relationships can register to apply for $200 worth of financial, parenting or conflict resolution education or counselling.
In Traralgon, Family Mediation Centre and Relationships Australia Victoria have registered to be on the panel of providers while Catholic Care Gippsland has registered and, depending on interest, will run sessions in Morwell.
Relationships Australia Victoria Traralgon centre manager Jo Huggins said the free sessions were a good measure to prevent what the organisation regularly saw at the end of relationships.
“We see the other end; we see families really in crisis and the impact of separation on children, it really can be quite devastating,” Ms Huggins said.
“We’ve always had this program but it’s under utilised, hopefully this voucher system will encourage people to do it.
“It’s preparation for difficulties that inevitably happen in relationships that people often don’t think to talk about.”
Catholic Care director of operations Sheree Limbrick expected more service providers to register within the year but hoped there would be expressions of interest, which could lead to group and individual programs run in Morwell.
Ms Limbrick said there was two elements to the organisation’s model of facilitating the trial, including group education and interaction sessions and counselling services.
“We already do this work so this is another way for people in the community to know our services are out there,” Ms Limbrick said.
“It is actually an investment in the relationship to be talking about your relationship and working together on that.”
Ms Limbrick said as part of the trial, couples would be contacted to see how their relationships were going.
“It is a trial for 12 months, I think it’s the government’s attempt to see whether people will seek early intervention rather than finding themselves in the family court,” Ms Limbrick said.
“The focus will be on following up whether it has had an impact on people.”
For more information on the trial or the service providers panel, visit www.dss.gov.au