Coalition of Celebrant Associations

Australia’s Peak Celebrant Body

10.0 Streamline Celebrant Queries

The purpose of these recommendations are to streamline the process of support for celebrants, especially as regards legal matters. It can be split into two levels.

It is recommended that in the event of a celebrant contact to any source, in the first instance:
  • All celebrants to be asked whether they have made reference to the Explanatory Material, When Words are Not Enough, the Marriage Act and the Marriage Regulations, the Fact Sheets and other information available inside the Celebrants Only Section of the website.
  • Then contact the BDM who will be registering the marriage for clarification.
  • If the question asked is not covered by the Explanatory material and/or BDM advice appears contradictory, the celebrant raises the matter via their celebrant association or requests the BDM raise the matter with the “Expert Resource Team” on their behalf.
  • If no answer is forthcoming within a reasonable period of time, then the celebrant may contact the MLCS.
This will enable the front-line services to refer the more difficult matters to the Expert Resource team for advice. It will also ensure:
  • The most efficient and cost effective support service for celebrant support is available and to enable services such as the BDMs and Celebrant Associations who provide marriage services, to deal with the first level of celebrant enquiries.
  • Promote the use of celebrant associations and thus to minimise the work load of the BDMs and MLCS.
  • Less of a workload on part-time marriage celebrants and minimise distress and hardship on couples by having both standard and expert advice systems clearly identified.
Cost Recovery

As per Recommendation 9

Further Explanation:
  • Note: Prior to 2003, it was rare for a celebrant to contact the Marriage Celebrant Section of the Attorney General’s Department. Celebrants contacted the appropriate BDM for advice or their celebrant association.

    Almost all problems were resolved this way. Occasionally the BDM or the celebrant or a celebrant association would contact the Department for advice.

    Also prior to 2003, celebrants paperwork was of a much higher standard than that of the Recognised Religious Celebrants.

    Thus the new system of low training standards from 2003, high celebrant numbers compounded greatly by the insistence of the MCS that all celebrants contact the Deparment, has created the current problems and work-load of the MLCS.

    It is unfair to expect celebrants to now pay for increased staffing to fix the problen of 18,000 enquiries pa.

    This CoCA submission proposes a systems approach to solve these problems by changing the recommended process, backing that up with an Expert Panel to deal with the more difficult problems, from which new resources can be developed, along with the other strategies proposed in this document.
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