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Marriage Guidance grossly misunderstood



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guidance organisation here and throughput Australia are in a unique position to assess the impact of the Family Law"Act and, if it has any weaknesses, how it can be improved. I prevail upon you to make your observations known in a

submission to the Parliamentary Committee. Family Law is a diffiqult area of the law and one in which the Parliament will need all the assistance it can get when it comes to consider the report of the Committee.

I congratulate the Queensland Marriage Guidance Council on its initiative in opening this new sub-centre. I have much pleasure in declaring it officially open and I am sure it will help to eliminate a great deal of human

unhappiness in the community it is designed to serve.

Brisbane 13 January 1979 2/79

MARRIAGE GUIDANCE GROSSLY MISUNDERSTOOD

Extracts from address by the Attorney-General, Senator Peter Durack, Q.C.

Marriage counselling, as practised by private Marriage Guidance Organisations, was probably one of the most grossly misunderstood activities in the community, the

Attorney-General, Senator Peter Durack, Q.C., said today.

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To many people, the image was one of well-meaning

amateurs rushing about, telling people how to glue together irreparably broken marriages. .

Very few people were aware that the purpose of counselling was to bring people to the stage where they could place their own problems into perspective and make considered, rational decisions about the options open to

them - of which reconciliation’ was obviously an important

one.

. Even fewer people were aware of the high degree of skill and professionalism which had been developed by the approved agencies.

Senator Durack was opening a new Marriage Guidance Centre conducted by the Queensland Marriage Guidance Council at Kessells Road Upper Mt. Gravatt.

The Attorney-General said many people justified not using marriage counselling services because they were convinced that the sole objective of the Services was reconciliation at any cost.

There was unfortunately, much informally collected evidence to suggest that people were sometimes encouraged in these false assumptions by doctors, lawyers, and other professional people, who, although they exerted a good deal of influence upon others, were often victims of their own unverified assumptions about marriage counselling.

Senator Durack said that establishment of the

centre at Mt. Gravatt and the fact that only three centres in Queensland with a population over 10,000 did not have direct access to marriage counselling services was a tribute

to the enterprise, enthusiasm and iniative of the Queensland Marriage Guidance Council.

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He said the number of applications for divorce in

1978 would be the same or marginally lower than the number

for 1977 - about 41,000.

'Certainly the number of applications for dissolution in 1977 and 1978 seem to have disproved the alarm expressed by some when they were confronted with the large 1976 figure. But even a figure of 40,000 creates considerable social and emotional disturbance in our community.

Ά Committee of the Parliament is now assessing the Family Law Act and the impact it has had on us as a

society. One of its specific terms of reference is to look at the service provided by the counsellors attached to the Family Court and the voluntary services of approved marriage guidance organisations.

'People involved in the marriage guidance organisation here and throughout Australia are in a unique position to assess the impact of the Family Law Act and, if it has any weaknesses, how it can be improved. I prevail upon you to make your observations known in a submission to

the Parliamentary Committee. Family Law is a difficult area of the law and one in which the Parliament will need all the assistance it can get when it comes to consider the report

of the Committee.'

Brisbane 12 January 1979· 2 A / 7 9

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