Coalition of Celebrant Associations

Australia’s Peak Celebrant Body

CoCA Preamble and Summary

The celebrant peak body, the Coalition of Celebrant Associations (CoCA) in conjunction with members of their associations and submissions from individual celebrants, put forward in this document our recommendations for improvements to the Marriage Celebrants Program.

This document is the result of a considerable consultation process and incorporates wide-spread views, thoughts and suggestions on the program from long-term and new celebrants. We commend these recommendations to you.

This section contains responses from associations and individuals on the proposed fee. It has been used as the basis for the recommendations made in later sections of the document.

  1. The “Professional” Fee is discriminatory and not in the public interest.Making only civil and minority religious marriages bear the full impact of cost recovery of the Marriage Law and Celebrant Section (MLSC) will unfairly affect 60+% of the marrying public.Commonwealth appointed marriage celebrants can be de-registered on the following grounds – failure to complete mandatory ongoing professional development, non-compliance with specific wording of sections 45 and 46, non-compliance with the Code of Practice, complaints and failure to pay an annual fee. Recognised religious and Registry Office marriage celebrants should have these measures equally applied to them.
  2. The ability to pay an annual fee is not an indicator of the celebrant’s competence or level of professionalism. It may be an indicator of their private wealth or income from other employment/ income support.The application of an annual fee however is a consequence of the failure of the government to implement a Marriage Celebrant Program that matched the number of appointments of independent celebrants to the level of community need.To correct the system so that the rate of appointment is regulated to community need and balanced with the attrition rate of celebrants due to death or retirement, CoCA’s submission makes a comprehensive set of recommendations to:

    • ensure the same principles apply to all marriage celebrants so that past and current political considerations do not discriminate against Commonwealth Marriage Celebrants in the delivery of marriage services by the government to all Australians.
    • balance the rate of appointments with community need via Regional Advisory Committees.
    • increase the standard for appointments by ensuring appointees are well informed as to the nature of the role prior to training, are fully trained for their specific marriage work, are assessed for knowledge and skills, and are interviewed and selected on the basis of the best applicant for the vacancy in a specific region.
    • ensure the MLCS has efficient administrative and computerised data and IT website based systems from which to review and monitor the delivery of all marriage services in Australia
    • support all marriage celebrants through a preventative and educative approach,making more information available via a Celebrants Only Section of the MLCS website and broader educational opportunities available for Ongoing Professional Development (OPD).
    • support and involve stakeholders such as CoCA, celebrant associations, registry offices, recognized religious organizations to deliver marriage services.
    • improve marriage information and community education of the general public.

  3. Cost recovery needs to ensure the most effective and efficient use of the overall system of delivery of marriage services to the whole Australian community by utilising the various stakeholders according to their primary role, their expertise and practical experience in delivering marriage services.
  4. The various aspects of the Marriage Law and Celebrant Section’s national role in policy development, administration, appointment and compliance work needs to be cost recovery matched not only to the work done, but also to the receivers of that work such that
    • all aspects of servicing appointments are covered by cost recovery of applicants and new appointees
    • 5 yearly reviews for Compliance be costed at 1 hour per 5 years, plus fines to non-compliant celebrants to cover the extra work done in reviewing those celebrants
    • all other costs associated with the MLCS to be covered by all celebrants and/ or all marrying couples.
NOTE: Where there is the opportunity for cost recovery, these are highlighted in a Cost Recovery section at the end of each section.

In this submission, CoCA has made a number of recommendations based on discussions within CoCA associations and input from submissions made to us by associations and independent civil celebrants. Each recommendation is stated and includes the rationale for the recommendation. Any cost recovery opportunities are also indicated.

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