‘Good Beginnings’ has been collaboratively developed by Benevolence Australia and ‘Sir Zelman Cowen Centre’ at Victoria University as a pre-marriage mentoring resource for Muslim couples. It is a world first primary prevention program funded by the Department of Social Services. 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.
Good Beginnings was first conceived through the identification of a resource gap for pre-marital Muslim couples. While there are many resources for secular and other faith-based couples, there is no specific resource for young Muslim to-be-weds.
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 Beginnings development and delivery; with the community’s voice informing the content and scope of the resources as well as program delivery. Leaders in the Muslim community, experts in counselling and psychology and the wider Muslim community were all consulted in this process. The consultation focused on currently available pre-marriage programs, cultural and context specific needs of Victoria’s Muslim community, and best method of delivery. By partnering with community members and organisations every step of the way, Good Beginnings has been able to incorporate 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.
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. 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.