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Jennifer Mason – the 2018 recipient of the Marriage and Relationship Educators Association of Australia (MAREAA) award for excellence.

Congratulations Jennifer Mason on being the 2018 recipient of the Marriage and Relationship Educators Association of Australia (MAREAA) award for excellence.

The award recognises outstanding or exceptional service or contribution to marriage and relationship education.

It seeks to recognise those who meet two or more of the following criteria:

  • Demonstrated excellent, consistent and innovative service to the field;
  • Provided continuous outstanding service to the field;
  • Implemented an outstanding or novel initiative;
  • Made significant improvements to the content or process of relationship education;
  • Shown a commitment to the ongoing development of the profession: and
  • Shown dedication to the support and encouragement of others in the field

Jennifer has been dedicated in her work with relationships in and outside of Centacare working across age groups from young children to adults. She has been dedicated to the betterment of the field and been an active committee member of MAREAA and the former CSME for many years. Her wit, humour intelligence and professionalism have built and delivered work with high integrity always.

Jennifer was an incredibly skilled FOCCUS trainer and in all her work made sure it was of a very high standard and quality. Aside from these qualities she has been very supportive as a peer with an enthusiastic, energetic and embracing attitude to current research and findings that better her work and the outcomes for couples and children.

Congratulations Jennifer Mason!

Shane Smith

Director, PREPARE/ENRICH Australia

President, Marriage and Relationship Educators Association of Australia Inc.

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Victoria State Conference and National AGM, Saturday August 4, 2018 East Melbourne

AMANDA LAMBROS PRESENTING: Daring to be Vulnerable to be Brave and From the Bedroom and Beyond

Daring to be Vulnerable to be Brave (Brene Brown Session)

How does your ability to be vulnerable impact on you and those you work with? Have you taken the time to reflect on how bravery helps or hinders you? Would you be willing to take steps towards being more daring in life, work and relationships? If so, how will this impact what you do going forward? By drawing upon the research of Brene Brown, this is an interactive workshop which will get you thinking about vulnerability, bravery and daring. How these impact you personally and how they have the ability to impact on the people you work with. If you don’t know anything about Brene Brown, that’s fine, this workshop will include video clips and an activity workbook.

From the Bedroom and Beyond (Intimacy Session)

OMG – There’s a Sexologist in the room! This light-hearted and interactive workshop will have you question what you know about intimacy and sexuality and how to help couples grow in this space to engage in the most fulfilling, sexually healthy relationship possible. A workbook with activities to help you define and reflect on the concept of intimacy, with suggested activities for those you work with will be provided. Come with an open mind and a willingness to question, question, question.

Conference Program

9.00am Registration
9.30am Welcome and opening
10.00am Morning session (including morning tea)
12.30pm Lunch
1.30pm Afternoon session (including afternoon tea)
4.15pm Summary and evaluation
Wine and cheese

Book here:


Limited parking is available. Enter off Lansdowne Street.
The venue is in close proximity to Parliament Station and trams.
(refer to Melway Map 44 A7). Conference entry from car park.


An excellent range of books and resources will be available for purchase at the conference courtesy of ‘St Luke’s Innovative resources’ bookshop.

An opportunity not to be missed!

Victorian State Committee: Offering three (3) FREE registrations to Victorian members and one (1) FREE registration to an interstate membership

Our Victorian State Committee is offering three (3) free registrations to Victorian members and one (1) free registration to an interstate member who would like to attend the MAREAA Victorian State Conference to be held on August 4th 2018.

This is an opportunity to assist and encourage those members who may not otherwise have been able to attend to participate in professional development.

The amount covered will be $140 (conference registration). As always the MAREAA Vic State Conference will be a valuable learning and networking day. You will find information about the conference theme and presenters on the MAREAA website HERE>

We believe this is a positive contribution to assist in ongoing professional development for marriage and relationship educators in Australia.

The conditions for application:

  1. The applicant must be a current MAREAA financial member.
  2. (to join go to MAREAA:
  3. The applicant is not in receipt of a subsidy to attend already. eg. from his/her workplace or other organisation, unless the organisation does not provide for professional development.
  4. The email application outlining your case is to sent me by Friday 6th July 2018 to

The Committee will make the decision and notify successful applicants via email by 11 July, 2018.

Kind Regards,
Leonie Nolan,
MAREAA Victoria
C/- CatholicCare
PO Box 196, East Melbourne

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Welcome Amanda Lambros, Vice-President of MAREAA

Amanda Lambros is a renowned thought leader on relationships, relationship development and consumer engagement and is a wonderful addition to the MAREAA Executive. Combining current consumer insights with research into relationships, engagement and delivering organisations and individuals powerful strategies for connecting with their customers both present and future, Amanda has the skills and background to contribute and advocate for the ongoing growth and provision for early intervention and prevention programs in Australia.

As a change agent, Amanda is recognised as an entertaining speaker and has presented at over 300 conferences in 11 countries, combining practical strategies with an impressive storytelling style, Amanda leaves audiences with memorable messages and actionable insights. With an educational background in Health Sciences and Ethics, Amanda has a Masters Degrees in both Forensic Sexology and Counselling. She has consulted to some of the country’s largest brands, including various Universities, SERCO, Rio Tinto, Telstra, Brookfield Multiplex, Toyota and MercyCare.

“MAREAA has a great tradition and history in supporting relationship educators and influencing the public agenda and with such a diverse background, we are fortunate to have Amanda on the executive, adding to the tremendous knowledge and experience within the leadership team. I thank Amanda for her continued support”, Shane said.

Welcome and thankyou Amanda for accepting this position.

Yours Sincerely,
Shane Smith
National President, Marriage and Relationship Educators Association of Australia (MAREAA)

Director, Relationship Educator and Mediator

Amanda Lambros
BHSc., Dip Ethics, MSForensicSexol., MACouns.
Clinical Counsellor & Supervisor
Member, Professional Speakers of Australia (PSA)
Relationship & Grief & Loss Expert | Educator | Speaker

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Welcome Shane Smith, incoming President of MAREAA

PREPARE/ENRICH director Shane Smith was recently elected to the role of MAREAA President, replacing outgoing President Denise Lacey, who whilst still on the Executive, has chosen to step-down from the lead role.

I am thrilled to welcome Shane to the role…. In November 2014, Shane was appointed as the Vice President of the Marriage and Relationship Educators Association of Australia (MAREAA) and has been a wonderful support to me and the whole Executive. He is a natural leader, has passion and commitment to marriage and relationship education and will provide strong direction and creative for the future of MAREAA.

Shane has delivered a wide variety of parenting and relationship education programs since 2007 and with his wife Mandi, have grown PREPARE/ENRICH and CoupleCheckup to support over 8,500 facilitators across Australia, training over 400 new facilitators each year and supporting over 500 couple inventory completions each month. Supporting the technology and social media platforms, Shane has played a pivotal role in uplifting MAREAAs engagement with relationship educators, celebrants and couples across Australia through the provision of web, weekly social media blogs and regular newsletters.

Shane commented, “Given MAREAA believes and strongly advocates for the development and maintenance of healthy, committed, nurturing relationships in all their diversity, there is no better time for MAREAA to be part of public discussion, supporting and respecting the dignity of all individuals, inclusion, belonging and equality for couples irrespective of age, sexual orientation, cultural or religious background. As we continue to become a more diverse culture, making a long-term commitment to a partner, whether that be in marriage or a cohabiting relationship, overwhelmingly points to physical, psychological, emotional, social and financial benefits for men, women and children (and our society in general) and it’s a privilege to contribute and continue to advocate that.”

“For the Committee, I want to bring that all together in a highly collaborative and transparent environment… and we’ve started off the year just this way with our strategic planning meeting last month. For our members, we appreciate your continued support, clearly demonstrated at the highly successful National Conference held last November. Throughout this year and years ahead, we look forward to continually improving what we do, how we collaborate with each other and across the sector and with government and looking always to the positive impact on couple and family relationships”, Shane said.

MAREAA has a great tradition and history in supporting relationship educators and influencing the public agenda and I believe we can continue to positively contribute and advocate for the ongoing growth and provision for early intervention and prevention programs in Australia. We have tremendous knowledge and diversity within the leadership team and I thank the Executive and members for your continued support. I am still on the Executive and on the MAREAA Vic committee and very committed to Relationship Education. I will support Shane and the MAREAA Exec in everything we do.

As Director of PREPARE/ENRICH Australia and now President of MAREAA, in his spare time he is also an intentional husband and father of three teenage children. Shane works alongside many like-minded professionals and organisations who support and advocate for individuals, couples and families. He believes that all couples have the opportunity to develop and grow their relationship skills that assist them maintain strong and healthy relationships.

Shane has a broad understanding of digital technology (Unlike me!!) and the impact of the internet, mobile technology and social media has on couple relationships He is a regular writer and blogger on this topic. With over 20 years’ experience in IT and Telecommunications, Procurement and Contract and Commercial management, Shane has a Master of Dispute Resolution at the University of Technology (Sydney), a Master of Business Administration (Law) from the University of New England, a postgraduate certificate in Adult Education in Training and a bachelor’s degree of Applied Science in Information Studies from UTS.

Welcome and thankyou Shane for accepting this position.

Yours Sincerely,

Denise Lacey
(former) National President

Marriage and Relationship Educators Association of Australia (MAREAA)

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MAREAA Welcomes the new Minister for Social Services, the Hon. Dan Tehan, MP.

MAREAA welcomes the new Minister for Social Services, the Hon. Dan Tehan, MP who will be supported in his role by the Hon. Jane Prentice as Assistant Minister for Social Services and Disability Services and the Hon. Dr David Gillespie, MP who will step into the newly created role of Assistant Minister for Children and Families’, announced this week as part of the Turnbull Governments Ministerial restructure.

As outlined in the ‘Strengthening prevention and early intervention services for families into the future’ report (Toumbourou, J. et al (2017)), “a great and relatively untapped opportunity exists in the sector to have a far more integral role in identifying risk factors in the lives of the children, families and communities with whom we work, enabling us to contribute to a more holistic service delivery response.” With the existing policy investment slanted to working with disadvantaged populations and with families that are already experiencing problems, MAREAA along with the authors believe there is great potential for cost effectiveness and efficiency in investing in prevention and early intervention services across a range of health risks, consistent with the objectives of national initiatives for women, children and families.

MAREAA looks forward to continuing to work with Government and the newly appointed Minister and Assistant Ministers to ensure that we are all working to achieve the best outcomes for children, families and communities into the future.

We bid farewell and extend our gratitude to the Hon. Christian Porter, as he assumes his new position as Attorney-General of Australia.


Denise Lacey
MAREAA National President

Keep up with the latest from MAREAA online.

Twitter: @MAREAA_asn

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Congratulations Fiona McDonald: Award for Excellence in the field of Marriage and Relationship Education.

This award recognises outstanding or exceptional service or contribution to marriage and relationship education.  Recipients may be an individual, team, or program.

Fiona began her Relationship Ed career/apprenticeship at Anglicare in the early 90’s.and  in 2000 she joined Western Australia Relationships Australia after completing her degree. She has been passionate about relationship education and its benefits for couples, individuals and families and as such over the years has developed a number of very successful programs. These include Relationship Education for couples (pre marriage), Prepare-Enrich, 8 week program for couples “Building Better Relationships” based on John Gottman work; weekend programs for couples and single session programs that responded to need. She established Step Family programs, Parenting Programs, Men’s Anger Management Programs and programs for those leaving a relationship.

She has always believed that for relationship education to work you need in depth well trained, and supported facilitators. If you have highly skilled facilitators, then the groups run well. She has challenged the concepts of people not wanting to attend groups and that men won’t come. Her testimony to this is that WARA has a wonderful legacy of well-oiled programs grown over the years that are always full.

In 2010 she also challenged the state training body to establish a CERT IV in Relationship Education and then conducted this for 5 years. It was the only official Rel Ed training program in Australia.

She has served on the National MAREAA Exec, been on both state and national conference committees (indeed she is on the current one) and has been a driver of MAREAA WA state activities.

She has recently retired but her passion for relationship education will live on at RA and is a model for the rest of Australia.

Congratulations Fiona.

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Presidents Christmas Message 2017

Dear MAREAA members and friends,

For many of us this is a busy time of year, finishing off our work, planning for 2018, thinking of ordering the turkey and what to buy grandma, attending the work Christmas party, thanking everyone for their great work during the year. Hunting for the special white t shirt for daughter’s present (how many white T shirts can there be?!) and remembering to breathe, be grateful and certainly don’t forget to order the champas and pick up other daughter from airport on time!

This could sound like a bad news story but it is not.

The other day I was in a kitchen shop and a lady began talking to me and telling me that she is over her family at Christmas and doesn’t want to buy them gifts, would rather buy for friends and in fact is going to be with friends on Christmas day. On this same day, I was peacefully having a coffee when I heard several people at next table saying how Christmas is such a burden as everyone has to be nice to each other for one day a year.

This sounds like a bad news story and it is.

For our Christmas, we have always invited anyone who would like to share our day and as a result we have had some very rich and amazing experiences. Our children are now well and truly adults (and we have beautiful grandkids) but the tradition lives on and usually one or two of them have invited some people that they know are on their own. Our Christmases are always richer for these invitations. We have had hitch hikers from Denmark, Sweden and USA, very distant relatives about 20 times removed who were on their own (they are still coming, now with their daughter), an elderly couple from nearby, a farmer down the road, neighbours, relatives of the relatives of the neighbours and so on.

Everyone gets a present (small!) and a seat at the table/s (decorated in red and green of course). People bring food, and it is noisy and chaotic and there is nothing chic or glam about it all but it is lots of fun. We celebrate many things: our good fortune to have the opportunity to be surrounded by good people; our love for family and friends and the home we have to share. These are the best gifts of all.

Christmas is a time of celebration, whether through a particular faith or recognising the importance of gathering together to celebrate family and friendship.  However, the common message should always be peace and goodwill to all. This message is not too distant to the work we do in Relationship Education. MAREAA wants all couples, families and individuals in all their diversity to have healthy, growing and happy relationships. We want people to be part of the good news story, especially at Christmas.

I wish for all MAREAA members, friends and families a happy, safe, enjoyable Christmas celebrated with your families and friends and perhaps even a few strangers!

Denise Lacey
MAREAA National President

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President’s Report

Last year I reported that the MAREAA Executive had been working hard to continue to advocate for Marriage and Relationship Education in Australia.  This has become increasingly challenging as early intervention and prevention was certainly not on the Federal Government agenda. We had had several unsuccessful attempts to gain some funding for a National Conference in the previous 2 years.

In the 2016 Presidents Report I said “watch this space!” and yes, we were successful in receiving funding!

DSS Minister, Christian Porter agreed to fund MAREAA this year $20,000 to help seed MARENC 2017. We are very grateful to Minister Porter for this.

I would also like to thank FRSA Board, Jackie Brady FRSA Executive Officer and Amanda Carter, Administration Supervisor.  We have really appreciated the collaboration, the generous support, encouragement and good will provided to MAREAA and the National Executive.

The National Executive goals needed to be put aside during 2017. However, the overall goals: Building Membership, Supporting Members, Raising the Profile of MRE are all intrinsic to the goal of conducting a National Conference.

We have achieved this goal with a lot of energy, positivity, hard work and a few little dramas along the way. A badly functioning (new) website in the year of the National Conference has been one of those ‘dramas’. We have had 12 months of negotiation with some limited degree of success. I am very grateful to Michael O’Keeffe, Web manager and Treasurer and Shane Smith, Vice President, for their continual efforts to resolve this serious problem.

I thank all MAREAA members and possible members for your patience and support over this time.

We hope to move into 2018 with a fully functioning, easy to manage website for all members who can easily advertise their services. We also want couples and individuals to be able to find a service near them. Hopefully this is not too far away.

It is with great delight that MAREAA has again had the opportunity to present the Award for Excellence. It is not often that those working in prevention and early intervention programs gain some recognition for the work that they do. I congratulate this year’s recipient.

This will be my last report as President and while I will still be on the Executive, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the Executive for their continued, on-going and generous support plus the friendship and fun we had at our “Zoom” meetings.  We have all had a big and at times, stressful year but I am confident 2018 will be the year of consolidation and growth.

I would particularly like to thank Rebecca Lowe, secretary, who I would not be able to do without, Shane Smith and Michael O’Keeffe for their patience with my many texts, emails and phone calls.

I also encourage all those working in the early intervention and prevention space to continue doing what you do so well and to use MAREAA for advocacy, support, promotion and networking.

MAREAA looks forward with optimism and enthusiasm to new adventures and challenges in 2018.

Denise Lacey

MAREAA National President

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2017 AGM notice to members

The MAREAA National Committee would like to invite all current, past and potential members and supporters to the Marriage and Relationship Educators’ Association of Australia 23rd Annual General Meeting, to be held on Wednesday November 22 2017, 5.30pm AEDT at the location of the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre.

The National Committee is delighted to be holding the AGM as part of the Marriage and Relationship Educators’ National Conference once again.

Please find the following 23rd AGM 2017 documents attached:

Any apologies, committee member nomination and proxy forms can be sent to the MAREAA National Committee Secretary at (proxy forms may also be handed to the President just prior to the start of the AGM).

As formally adopted in 2014, under the new constitution (Model Rules) each year all national committee members step down and may be nominated for re-election. Please consider who you would wish to see on the National Management Committee and submit your nomination.

In addition to nominated committee members, the national management committee is also made up of state and territory Branch Representatives. Could all branches please notify the Secretary of who they will appoint as Branch Representative for the coming year. The notification may be a short email to be received by Friday 27th October.

The National Committee has worked tirelessly to be able to hold a national conference this year. You may have already seen the line-up of exceptional keynote speakers. This year, as for the MARENC 2014, the conference is being held in partnership with the Family Relationship Services Australia (FRSA) conference. The joint plenary session one includes two highly esteemed Australian women:

  • Dr Angela Donkin – Deputy Director of the UCL Institute of Health Equity
  • Professor Kerry Arabena – Chair for Indigenous Health and Director of the Indigenous Health Equity Unit at The University of Melbourne. A descendent of the Meriam people from the Torres Strait

The national committee is pleased to highlight the following MARENC keynote speakers:

  • Harry Benson – arguably Britain’s leading champion for marriage. His research findings for the Marriage Foundation are routinely cited in the media and by politicians
  • Chloe Shorten – Australian corporate affairs specialist, a member of the Burnett Institute‘s Engagement Committee and Strategic Advisor for their Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Program, and wife of Opposition leader Bill Shorten
  • Timothy O’Leary –  author, therapist and educator, featured on the Hay House World Summit.

Early bird registrations are now closed. Click here to register for this very exciting educators’ conference.

Register Now

Wait there’s more! We are pleased to yet again be presenting the MAREAA Award for Excellence; for outstanding or exceptional service or contribution in the field of marriage and relationship education. The award will be presented during the two day conference.

Please start considering who you wish to nominate for this outstanding award and submit your nomination to the National Secretary. Nomination forms and the Terms of Reference can be found here:

Nominations for the Award for Excellence close Friday 27th October.

Please join us for the AGM, Award for Excellence, the national conference, or all three.

Kind regards,
Rebecca Lowe
MAREAA National Committee

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Presidents Message

Dear MAREAA members and friends,

2017 is an exciting year for MAREAA as we prepare for the Marriage and Relationship Educators National Conference, MARENC. This will be held in collaboration with FRSA on 22 and 23 November at the Melbourne Exhibition and Convention Centre.

The Executive and conference committees have been working very hard to put together an exciting, innovative and fun program with great networking and learning opportunities. The program is looking fantastic and is nearly ready to be published.

However, we are having some very real difficulties with our new website. This website was launched earlier in the year in preparation for the conference but unfortunately we are having some challenges with the company involved. However, we will not be deterred!!! Didn’t some famous general say something similar?!

On a couple of previous National Conferences in Melbourne we have dealt with Ansett collapse 5 days out from conference and also the hotel hot water system breaking down……cold showers for every one for 2 days! Like all good educators we managed these unforeseen difficulties with skill, talent and a little bit of humour. So now we have this difficulty also so we are asking you to bear with us as we try to resolve the issues, with a little bit of skill, talent and a very occasional bit of humour.

You can certainly book for the conference on the website as the bookings are being managed by our contracted conference company. However, paying membership is a problem. You have a couple of choices. You can pay your membership as part of the conference fee. Simply visit our Conference Website and click on the options to join MAREAA.

If you are currently simply looking to join as a MAREAA member, you can email and we will give you directions on how to proceed while we are waiting for our website to get up and running.

We are hoping all will be resolved by next week (otherwise our very best relationship education skills may be out the window and some Arnold Schwarznegger moves may have to be employed!)

I ask you to please be patient with us while these problems are being resolved. In the meantime please look at conference program and check regularly for updates.

I hope to meet you in November at our fantastic, friendly conference: Voices In The Family, Children, Men and Women.

Denise Lacey

MAREAA National President

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At last months Annual General Meeting, the membership voted on introducing Organisational Membership. This will allow Marriage and Relationship providers to register all their employees as members of MAREAA.

How Organisational Membership would work?

Membership would be based on the (total) size of the organisation (i.e. number of educators that work at the organisation).

The voting rights are based on the size of the membership i.e. number of votes at the AGM or special meetings permitted per organisational membership size.
Each organisation will only nominate one contact person; however to attend Professional Development, the organisation can send the total ‘paid for’ educators for an organisational membership PD discounted rate. For example, for the smallest membership category, up to 3 educators can attend a MAREAA PD event at a discounted organisational membership rate. Any attendees over pay the full PD fee.

This will roll out on our new website which is coming in October. If you are currently a member you will have an opportunity to upgrade or transfer your membership over to Organisational Membership.