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About us

About us

Who we are

Relationships Australia Victoria (RAV) is a community based, not-for-profit organisation with no religious affiliations. We have over 70 years’ experience providing family and relationship support services.

We are committed to providing safe, inclusive and accessible services for all members of the community, regardless of religion, age, gender, sexual orientation, lifestyle choice, cultural background or economic circumstances. 

We believe that people, in all their diversity, have the right to live their lives safely and with dignity, with their families and within their communities, and to enjoy positive, respectful, safe and fulfilling relationships.

RAV acknowledges the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the Traditional Owners of the lands and waterways of Australia. We support Aboriginal people’s right to self-determination and culturally safe services.

We recognise the lifelong impacts of childhood trauma.

We recognise those who had children taken away from them.

 

Our vision

Our vision is for positive, respectful, safe and fulfilling relationships for all Australians.

Read about our Strategic Plan, vision and values

 

Our history

Our organisation was established in 1948 by a group of professionals, including clergy, doctors and lawyers, in response to concerns about the increasing prevalence of divorce following the Second World War, and the impact on families and society. In the early years, volunteers and some professionals primarily offered marriage education and couples counselling, to prevent marriage difficulties and support couples to stay together.

In the mid-1980s, we began offering mediation services, now known as family dispute resolution (FDR), in recognition of the need to support couples who were separating to fairly resolve parenting and property disputes, while avoiding litigation. In the early 1990s, as one of the first organisations to receive family violence funding from the Australian Government, we introduced family violence prevention programs for male perpetrators. RAV is now a significant provider of men’s behaviour change programs and family advocacy support services in Victoria.

Changes to the Family Law Act in the mid-2000s resulted in the introduction of 65 Family Relationship Centres (FRCs) across Australia to support families going through separation with information, referral and FDR. RAV is proud to operate 4 FRCs in Berwick, Greensborough, Melbourne CBD and Sunshine.

Since 2010, RAV has introduced specialist therapeutic services for people with disability, people affected by forced adoption, Forgotten Australians, and associated with the National Redress Scheme. We have also successfully tendered to deliver 3 headspace services in Bairnsdale, Sale and Wonthaggi, and a Family Mental Health Support Service in East Gippsland.

The past 70-plus years have seen our organisation grow and diversify significantly, and we now offer a range of professional services across the prevention, early intervention and response spectrum, which extend well beyond our original marriage guidance origins. Our diverse suite of services now includes counselling, FDR, relationship education and group programs; family violence services, mental health services, workplace support, and professional training. We deliver these services from 18 centres and offices, an extensive range of outreach locations across metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria, and via telephone, video and telehealth platforms.

Structurally, we are part of a national federation of 8 state and territory Relationships Australia organisations, which while being independent of each other, share common objectives. Visit the Relationships Australia National website for more information.

Learn more about our history

We first began in 1948 as a modest but aspirational organisation called the Marriage Guidance Council of Victoria. It was established by a group of professionals, including clergy, doctors and lawyers, who were concerned about the increasing prevalence of divorce following the Second World War, and the impact on families and society. In those early years, volunteers and some professionals primarily offered marriage education and couples counselling, with a focus on assisting couples who were experiencing difficulties to stay together, and on preventing future marriage difficulties.

During this time, activities were based in the homes of the organisation's members, moving to rented premises as the organisation expanded. It was not until October 1964 that the Council bought its first home at 46 Princess Street, Kew, which remains our largest centre.

The name Marriage Guidance Council of Victoria was adopted in 1952 reflecting the organisation's growing state-wide focus. At different times there were regional committees at Albury, Ballarat, Bendigo, Geelong, Gippsland, the Goulburn Valley and Sunraysia. Counselling was provided in these areas as well as at Kew, Coburg, Horsham, Stawell, Doveton-Dandenong and Warragul.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the organisation recognised the needs of couples who were separating for support to enable them to agree on settlements for their assets and the care of their children, and avoid litigation where possible.

At the time, with mediation a relatively new area of service delivery, the organisation undertook a significant study trip to the United States to find out about and determine how mediation services could be implemented in Australia. As a result, by the mid-1980s, we were one of the earlier adopters of mediation, now known as family dispute resolution.

Also in the late 1970s, the structure of our workforce began to change from a network of volunteer counsellors to an organisation employing paid counsellors and mediators.

The needs of our clients have always been the motivation of our organisation, however, and we recognised that our clients were desperately needing assistance during this period of their lives, and that children, in particular, were suffering as a result of a lack of decisions around parental responsibilities.

In the early 1990s we further diversified our services, after we were one of two organisations that received some of the first funding from the Australian Government to provide family violence prevention services.

After this period of growth and change from the early 1980s through to the early 1990s, it was recognised that our name no longer reflected the breadth of services offered and so, in 1992, our name was changed to Relationships Australia Victoria (RAV).

Family violence prevention, support and recovery services have continued to be a focus for us since the 1990s and we are now the largest provider of men’s behaviour change programs and family safety services in Victoria. Our priority is the safety of women and children, and on holding men accountable for their behaviour and stopping using violence in their relationships.

In the most recent 2 decades, we have expanded further and are proud today to provide a range of family and relationship, youth mental health, and specialist support services which extend well beyond our original marriage guidance origins.

In Gippsland, we operate 3 headspace sites supporting young people, a specialised i-Connect Family Mental Health Support Service, a bushfire recovery access program in partnership with the Royal Flying Doctor Service, and additional programs for those impacted by bushfire, flood and drought.

We deliver state-wide, specialist support for people impacted by forced adoption, people contemplating or currently applying for the National Redress Scheme, people with disability who have had violence, abuse, neglect and/or exploitation perpetrated against them, and those impacted by the Disability Royal Commission.

Since July 2020, RAV has provided the Open Place specialist support service for people who grew up in a Victorian orphanage or home prior to 1990, known as Forgotten Australians or Pre-1990 Care Leavers.


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