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Social cost of family breakdown highlighted

11 MAY 2006

New programme to help children cope with separation highlights social cost of family breakdown

“Launched today, the government’s new $6 million programme, “How to Help Your Kids When You Separate”, highlights the very real social cost of family breakdown,” says Maxim Institute CEO, Greg Fleming.

“It is a saddening fact of contemporary life that relationships often break up, and when they do, every effort should be made to lessen the impact on children. But this sort of programme, while it might help some children cope with a tough situation, will also contribute to normalising separation and divorce,” says Greg Fleming.

“If the government insists on getting involved in family life, then it should at least focus on helping families stay together, rather than saying separation is inevitable. $6 million to set up and signpost a hospital at the bottom of the cliff is an unwise use of public funds. How about encouraging families to stay away from the edge of the cliff?” Fleming says.

“Everything should be done to encourage couples contemplating separation to hang in there and weather the storm. They need support from their family and wider community before they need a government-sponsored programme which will make it easier for them to part,” says Greg Fleming.

“In the past decade, we have seen a shift away from policy which encourages and endorses the marriage commitment as being important for society, to one which devalues that commitment,” says Fleming.

“The Relationships (Statutory References) Act passed last year made de facto relationships equivalent to marriage in virtually every way and sent the message that society does not value public, life-long commitment, any more than cohabitation,” says Greg Fleming.

“We all need to appreciate the value of commitment for couples and children. An unfortunate side-effect of this programme will be to undermine the marriage commitment which is foundational to strong family and community life,” says Greg Fleming.


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