In April, the Sir Zelman Cowen Centre (SZCC) commenced a new partnership with Benevolence Australia. The partnership will create and deliver Islamically sensitive, family violence primary prevention, via pre-marital counselling with young Muslim couples.
Funded as part of the federal government Community-led Projects to Prevent Violence against Women and their Children, over the next three years SZCC and Benevolence will collaborate to create and develop interactive and faith-specific family violence prevention resources for use in pre-marital counselling.
The program aims to pre-empt later marital difficulties by providing faith-based strategies for building equitable and respectful partnerships.
"The program is a Victorian first and will provide ‘just in time’ guidance to couples by tying primary prevention strategies to marriage – a milestone in the personal and spiritual journeys of couples," says the Cowen Centre’s Director, Professor Kathy Laster.
Pre-marital counselling using the new resources will take place in the program’s second year. Imams and marriage celebrants, trained by the Cowen Centre and Benevolence, will use the resources to provide couples with faith-informed guidance around topics such as shared decision making and managing conflict.
Meriem Abida, CEO of Benevolence, says "the resources will provide community and religious leaders with engaging interactive exercises, based in faith, that will help couples manage common stress points in relationships such as parenting and financial decision-making."
Applying the Cowen Centre’s devolved model of community-capacity building, in the program’s third’s year SZCC will support Benevolence to assume ownership of the resources and the counselling course. The resources and training will then be available to Muslim communities across Victoria and Australia via Benevolence.
Previously, SZCC has partnered with the Islamic Council of Victoria and the Board of Imams to provide family violence and family law training to Imams and Muslim women leaders.
Find out more about SZCC's other programs.