Kevin Andrews’ love revolution is a slow burner.
Almost all the free relationship counselling vouchers under the Social Services Minister’s scheme to introduce more harmony in Australians’ love lives are still up for grabs.
With a limit of 100,000 vouchers available to couples, a spokeswoman for Mr Andrews urged people to register as ”soon as possible” when the scheme launched on July 1.
So far, only about 1400 couples have taken the federal government up on the offer, leaving about 98,600 vouchers going spare for sessions on parenting, conflict resolution and financial management.
Mr Andrews – who is a fan of regular marriage counselling – has labelled the initial take-up ”very encouraging”.
”I believe as more people hear about this program, more couples will take advantage of the offer,” he said.
While the $200 vouchers are open to all committed couples over the age of 18, regardless of their marital status or sexuality, most people who have registered so far are between 25 and 34 years old and are engaged.
The scheme is currently undergoing a one-year trial and the government is set to roll out a broader advertising campaign for the vouchers, spruiking them through bridal expos, marriage celebrants, churches, Centrelink and Medicare centres.
Relationships Australia spokeswoman Susan Visser said she was noticing couples starting to come in for counselling because of the vouchers.
Ms Visser said while Australia had ”come a long way” over the past decade, there was still a stigma around counselling.
”We haven’t quite got to the stage where it’s seen as a normal thing, so that should you be having problems in your relationship or want to enhance the relationship, you go for counselling,” she said.
Mr Andrews has argued his policy will ultimately save the government money by preventing costly divorces. The $20 million cost of the trial has been found from savings within his portfolio.
Couples can register for a voucher online at the Department of Social Services website, choose from a list of approved providers and make an appointment.
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