Otto Henfling addresses the Roundtable on Couples on the Brink

Aug 12, 2011

Executive Director – Centacare Catholic Social Services Parramatta


CatholicCare Social Services – Diocese of Parramatta (CCSS) has a well-respected pre-marriage education course which is well supported by the priests and deacons of the Diocese. We also have a very high-quality relationship counselling programme for those times when marriages hit difficult times. In addition we run the Keeping Kids in Mind (KKIM) programme, developed jointly with the CatholicCare offices in Sydney and Wollongong and Centacare Broken Bay, to work with separating parents to ensure that the best interests of their children are kept at the forefront of their minds. Much of what was shared by Dr Doherty is being tried in our programmes but not necessarily in as a co-ordinated and advanced way as Dr Doherty has developed.

It became apparent to me that programmes to support marriages when they are not in stress – when they are “coasting” – are missing from our repertoire of programmes.

If we want to reduce the number of marriages that fail we need to provide opportunities for on-going strengthening and support.

Professional people need to regularly undertake professional development courses to maintain their registration or similar. This professional development is not undertaken only when they have proven to be failing in their chosen profession – in fact it is to ensure that they remain current. A similar approach to a couple’s marriage (which, as Catholics, we ought to recognise as more important than our profession) should reduce the number of marriages that require significant remedial counselling.

CatholicCare Parramatta will continue to explore opportunities to provide opportunities for couples to strengthen their marriage and help avoid the need for significant relationship counselling due to breakdown.