Appendix 3 (for Submission 1 - Recommendation 4)

The role of civil marriage celebrant be revised and expanded to include being a "Civics Ambassador/ HR Community Educator " ie having responsibilities related to human/citizens rights.

NB  Civics -" the study of the rights and responsibilities of citizenship" 
Ambassador - "authorized messenger or representative or unofficial representative: ambassadors of goodwill." 

Model for a Revised Civil Celebrant Appointment System 

This model is proposed to combine the best features of the 1973 orginal needs based appointment system and the 2003 'open' market appointment system #

1. Federal Attorney General

Responsible for:
The overall direction of the "Civics Ambassador/ HR Community Educator/ Civil Celebrants" program, including policy and guideline development for the Civics Ambassador / HR Community Eductor component and the administration of the Marriage Act & Regulations.

This would include 
  • Re-establishing a clear division between appointments as either civil appointments or religious appointments ie no longer appointing celebrants as both civil and religious celebrants
  • establishing essential training and fit and proper person guidelines for appointment. Such guidelines to include prior work as a celebrant.
  • establishing guidelines for OPD
  • appointing Civil Celebrants upon recommendations from Electoral Celebrant Advisory Committees
  • collect annual data on celebrants stats, OPD, etc
  • maintain a register of celebrants etc
  • provide complaints mechanism for the general public and celebrants
  • review appointments as required by the Act

2. Electorally based Marriage Celebrant Advisory Committees 

Responsible for:
Advising the Attorney General on the direction and implementation of the "Civics Ambassador/ HR Community Educator/ Civil Celebrants" program at an electorate level.

 

The role would be to: 

  • be knowledgeable as regards the human rights community awareness program
  • decide on the level of Civil Celebrant numbers to meet community need in their electorate
  • establish local criteria for appointment in addition to AG's requirements
  • advertise for and shortlist to interview those candidates that meet AG and local criteria
  • interview, select and make recommendations for appointment to the AG
  • review the appointment levels on a regular basis
  • oversight the development of a Citizenship Ceremony program

 

NB Such committees would be

  • chaired by the local MP
  • meet every two years
  • have community reps eg a local Mayor, media personnel, celebrant association rep. etc.
  • voluntary committee involvement, but out-of-pocket expenses funded from MP budget
3. Coalition of Celebrant Associations (COCA)

 

Responsible for: 
Advising the Attorney General on celebrancy related issues

This would include:

  • advising AG on celebrancy related issues such as celebrant training, OPD, current implementation and any future changes to the Marriage Act and Regulations
  • advocate to government on behalf of members
  • provide information and support to members
  • establish voluntary accreditation processes to enable celebrants who wish to, to have their knowledge and expertise further assessed and credited.
# Comparison of 1973 and 2003 appointment systems 

Trying to find ways to “marry” the best of government and free enterprise approaches seems to be the challenge of the times. The above model is proposed as solution for civil celebrancy

 

# The original appointment system was gender balanced and needs based per government electorate, the celebrant role viewed as a community service, and recommended by a government set fee. 

Appointees were required to have done volunteer community service work, public speaking and endorsed by their federal MP.

The original appointment system was gender balanced and needs based per government electorate, the celebrant role viewed as a community service, and recommended by a government set fee. 

Appointees were required to have done volunteer community service work, public speaking and endorsed by their federal MP.

Its strengths :

community service focused, needs based, clear division between civil and religious ceremony appointments, strong conflict of interest provisions, uniform competition, ratio of wedding work per celebrant average in 1994 approx. 50 weddings pa per celebrant, in 1999 approx 20 pa, cooperation and support could contribute to creativity, candidate known as community worker/ leader and endorsed by local federal MP

Its weaknesses :

lack of consistent universal training, no performance reviews, lack flexibility to adjust numbers for local community needs, poor complaints mechanisms, no code of practice, ceremonial aspects not recognised legally, appointments based on "first in-best dressed", but not select on the most suitable applicant, being appointed.

The current appointment system requires a basic minimal standard of training, and has lost its community service requirements, beyond performing the marriage ceremony on behalf of Australian Government. 

The open market approach has in effect redefined marriage celebrants as small business. However, the ongoing supply of potential celebrants being trained and ever increasing numbers being appointed without limits, for what is essentially weekend only wedding work, has resulted in reducing marriage celebrancy to the tax status of a "hobby" for the vast majority of celebrants.

Its strengths :

consistent universal training program, performance reviews, poor complaints mechanisms, code of practice, ceremonial aspects recognised legally, ongoing OPD requirements, competitive edge can contribute to creativity.

Its weaknesses :

not community service focused, no clear division between civil and religious ceremony appointments, conflict of interest provisions not as clear, uneven / unfair level of competition for a government appointment, current ratio of weddings per celebrant is now estimated at 8 per year and dropping, candidate not necessarily community worker/ leader , not necessarily known by and not endorsed by local federal MP, lack of requirements for and flexibility to adjust numbers for local community needs, appointments not selected by interview to ensure most suitable applicants appointed for ceremonial work.

Rona Goold

ACCN Director
E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Australian Celebrants & Celebrations Network
Let the celebration be your gift

Last modified on Friday, 09 September 2016 18:11