The Good Beginnings project aims to create opportunities for conversations with couples about how to build respectful relationships and strong marriages when they are at the beginning of their journeys together.

Project history

Led by the Sir Zelman Cowen Centre in partnership with Benevolence Australia, the 'Good Beginnings’ has been collaboratively developed as a pre-marriage counselling resource for Muslim couples.

The program works to create opportunities for conversations with Muslim pre-marriage couples about how to build respectful relationships and strong marriages when they are at the beginning of their journeys together.

It is a world first primary prevention program funded by the Department of Social Services (Community-led Projects to Prevent Violence against Women and their Children – 4-DPV4EVR) to address the gendered drivers of violence against women using OurWatch’s primary prevention framework ’Change the Story’.

Project objectives

Good Beginnings incorporates Islamic teachings, best practice primary prevention models, scientific theory, and counselling techniques to make this a world first program that is tailored to the Australian context, and Muslim faith.

The course is non-prescriptive, rather it meets each couple where they are and teaches them simple techniques to turn the inevitable conflict that comes with marriage into opportunities for growth.

The project design employs SZCC’s model of community capacity building, which involves.

  • A collaborative learning model: using a train-the-trainer method, Good Beginnings trains Muslim community members who currently work as counsellors, marriage celebrants, psychologists, mental health workers or social workers to use the Good Beginnings model in pre-marriage sessions with engaged Muslim couples.
  • Multilayered engagement across the community: recognising that community members are the experts in their own needs, the diverse Muslim community informed the content and delivery of the program. Extensive community consultations have been ongoing throughout Good Beginning’s development and delivery; with community’s voice informing the content and scope of the resources as well as program delivery.
  • Devolution: the resources and train-the-trainer program will be handed over to Benevolence at the conclusion of the funding.


  • Research and adapt existing best-practice faith-based pre­-marriage counselling primary prevention resources and approaches.
  • Consult with Muslim communities on information to include in the pre-marriage resources and training package.


  • Create pre-marriage counselling resources and training package.
  • Consult with Muslim communities on resource development in an iterative design process. 
  • Evaluate the resources co-design. 


  • Conduct workshops for Marriage Mentors in the use of the pre­-marriage counselling resources.
  • Trial the resources in pre-marriage counselling sessions provided by Marriage Mentors who participated in training program.
  • Evaluate the train-the-trainer program and the pre-marriage counselling resources via feedback from Marriage Mentors and couples.
  • Revise the pre-marriage counselling resources and training package based on feedback.
  • Handover ownership of project to Benevolence.
  • Promote the pre-marriage counselling resources to Muslim communities in Victoria and nationally.

Get involved

Meet our Marriage Mentors

Our graduate Marriage Mentors are able to take on new and engaged couples to work through the Good Beginnings course.

Find a Marriage Mentor

Find out more

If you would like to find out more or learn how to become a Marriage Mentor, please reach out to us via email at [email protected].

Marriage Mentors and Program staff stand on stage and smile with graduation certificates.

Good Beginnings pilot Marriage Mentors graduate from the program, March 2022

Good Beginnings in the news

Find Good Beginnings featured in the following news articles: