Kevin Andrews. Photo: Warrane.unsw.edu.au

Kevin Andrews. Photo: Warrane.unsw.edu.au

Family Services Minister, Kevin Andrews, has announced his intention to remodel the current early-intervention strategies of used by welfare groups in a bid to lower Australia’s soaring divorce rates. He has signaled his intention to investigate the efficacy of employing psychologists in kindergartens and preschools in an attempt to mitigate the spiraling social and financial costs associated with family disruptions.

Divorce and family splits are estimated to be costing the country $14 billion annually, up $2 billion on last year’s figures. Around $1100 form each Australian taxpayer is finding its way to support services involved in mediating or repairing the dissolution of families. For a government bent on slashing spending this is a prime target.

“The reality is that most programs are programs that try to ameliorate the impact of marriage and family relationship break downs,” said Mr Andrews. “Not enough goes into early intervention.”

It is estimated $12.5 billion will be spent assisting single parents in the form of family tax benefits and rent assistance. A further $1.5 billion is spent on various child support refuges and counselling. While another $202 million is passed on to the tax payer by the Family Courts as it attempts to resolve family disputes.

Mr Andrews believes spending money keeping families together will, in the long run, be of greater benefit to the country, both socially and financially.

Close to 25,000 couples get divorced each year, with each divorce costing the tax payer an estimated minimum of $100,000.

Models have supported the cost-benefit ratio of federally funded relationship counselling. One idea is to provide $200 vouchers to at-risk couples. Mr Andrews also signaled his intention to scrutinize the current welfare programs for children.

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