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Collins saves Justice $70M costs Welfare $400M+

Collins saves Justice $70M costs Welfare $400M+

Judith Collins plans to reduce costs in her department by about 70 million and potentially create costs of over 400 million in social welfare alone.

Every couple that separates costs the country on average $40K a year. Most of this comes from the additional social welfare costs of partners moving onto benefits or requiring additional family tax credits and accommodation supplements. For over 20 years the family court has provided 6 hours of funded counselling free of charge with a simple application process to address relationship issues. Collins plans to start axing this cost from September presumably ignoring clear evidence of the fiscal benefits let alone the social and emotional impacts of divorce on society.

To underline some numbers here if I see 100 couples a year and 60 come in planning divorce and 36 of them stay together for at least one more year I saved the country 1.4 million dollars for an investment of around $80K in service fees. Now the National government just wants to save money - which I understand and appreciate – I dislike my taxes being wasted.

However, even when I want to save money I still service and put oil in my car, it’s just too expensive not to. Families – particularly couples in committed relationships financially fuel this country they are low users of health, prison, addiction, housing and social welfare services. Families have a brilliant track record of keeping their children out of these costly services as well. Families deserve support. If National wants to axe this service they need to show that (a) there is something to replace it, or (b) that it’s not delivering – and there is already ample evidence and 20 years of history to say that this service is needed, valued and valuable.

P.S. If I was the Paula Bennett, Minister for Social Welfare I’d slip Judith some of my budget to keep my own costs down

Additional Information

As a Family Court therapist about 60% of the couples I see present in a state of acute crisis where at least one person is thinking or actively planning for divorce (often the woman). Numbers of my clients say, “I only came because he asked me, and it was free and I figured I had nothing to lose.” In well over 50% (national average) of those cases by the end of the 6 hours couples are recommitted to their relationship and have practical tools to help them communicate and connect better. Many continue counselling at their own cost typically for another 6-12 hours. I expect that my experience is fairly typical of other therapists.

Couples typically divorce because of hope not a lack of love. Most couples are unaware that it is normal to experience a power struggle in the relationship after the chemically induced infatuation of the honeymoon wears off. Due to inadequate parenting, the lack of public information on relationship cycles and persistent misinformation in popular media the couple in crisis thinks they are the only ones with this issue. Due to our culture of divorce they often tend to assume – I chose the wrong partner, “I love you – I’m just not in love with you”. It is at this point in a relationship that many people present for counselling, often because of their concern for the children.

Couples in this situation are looking at huge financial loss regardless of their income, a couple faced with selling their million dollar villa and finding new accommodation to keep their kids in the same school, will feel poor as will the beneficiary couple contemplating the cost of getting whiteware for two. They also tend to feel hopeless (they are planning to divorce after all). At this point in time the cost of counselling is likely to be relevant for at least one person in the couple, and it can also be used as an excuse by a person who is reluctant to attend.

Steven Dromgool
MCouns., BLS, MNZAC, Certified Imago Therapist


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