Summary of Recommendations

SECTION A – GENERAL

The CCN Inc. recommends that the Commonwealth Attorney General:

Recommendation 1 – Page 16

That discrimination be removed from the Marriage Act and Regulations, in principle and practice, based upon ‘non or neutral religious belief” as well as “religious belief” as regards the criteria for validation of the marriage by ensuring that the same criteria are required of all classes of marriage celebrants and all marrying couples to ensure that:
  • all couples are treated equally with respect to the basic criteria for the validation of amarriage
  • the wording of the key components of the marriage ceremony is in simple, plain English
  • Compliance as regards Sections 45 and 46 do not question the validity of a marriage on the basis of the specific wording of the declaration
  • all marriage celebrants are dealt with fairly and equitably as regards Compliance measures.
Recommendation 2 – Page 19

That changes to the Marriage Celebrant Program be made based upon a professional model of celebrancy wherein marriage services and ceremonies are a sub-set, regardless of whether the celebrant is independent (i.e. in private practice) or not, or offering religious services or not.

Recommendation 3 – Page 20

That all newly appointed marriage celebrants, whether commonwealth or state registered, be required to have the same basic level of training as regards Marriage Law, and Marriage Registration.

Recommendation 4 – Page 20

That the Conflict of Interest provisions be based on a professional model of celebrancy

Recommendation 5 – Page 22

That all new marriage celebrants be required to adhere to the same Code of Practice.

Recommendation 6 – Page 23

That all marriage celebrants be required to complete Ongoing Professional Development

Recommendation 7 – Page 23

That all marriage celebrants be required to utilize the Marriage Law and Celebrant Website’s “Celebrant Only” section to:
  1. Provide annual statistics
  2. Review, confirm, or provide information on their OPD activities and other compliance requirements
  3. Gain access to legal fact sheets, information, and news bulletins
  4. Update contact information
Recommendation 8 – Page 24

That all marriage celebrants be subjected to the same procedures for information distribution about marriage, marriage related services, and complaints about celebrants.

SECTION B - MARRIAGE ACT, REGULATIONS AND RELATED MATTERS

Revised Happily Ever After brochure:

Recommendation 9 – Page 26

That the Form 14A be revised and used  as a strategy to increase the compliance of all celebrants in providing
  • information about relationship education and support services,
  • information about Marriage according to Australian Law
  • information about the couple’s rights to complain about services supplied by the marriage celebrant
    and
  • encouraging marriage celebrants to belong to celebrant associations or networks if they do not belong to a celebrant-related organisation.

    (N.B.  Some celebrants’ associations do take religious as well as civil celebrants.)
Note: CoCA Recommendation 12 also relates to this community information opportunity.

Giving Notice:

Recommendation 10 – Page 27

That the principles underlying the Length of Notice, Shortening of Time for Notice, and the Documentation required to be sighted by all celebrants, be reviewed.

Australian passports:

Recommendation 11 – Page 32

That a change be made to the EXISTING:

Section 42 Notice to be given and declaration made

(1) Subject to this section, a marriage shall not be solemnized unless: (a) notice in writing of the intended marriage has been given in accordance with this section and has been received by the authorized celebrant solemnizing the marriage not earlier than 18 months before the date of the marriage and not later than 1 month before the date of the marriage;

(b) there has been produced to that authorized celebrant, in respect of each of the parties:

(i) an official certificate, or an official extract of an entry in an official register, showing the date and place of birth of the party; or

(ii) a statutory declaration made by the party or a parent of the party stating that, for reasons specified in the declaration, it is impracticable to obtain such a certificate or extract and stating, to the best of the declarant’s knowledge and belief and as accurately as the declarant has been able to ascertain, when and where the party was born; or

(iii) a passport issued by a government of an overseas country, showing the date and place of birth of the party; and


BE CHANGED TO:

42 Notice to be given and declaration made

(1) Subject to this section, a marriage shall not be solemnized unless:
(a) as is
(b) as is
(i) as is
(ii) as is
(iii) a passport issued by the Australian Government for an overseas born Australian citizen and verified by an Australian Citizenship Certificate or a passport issued by a government of an overseas country,

Establish improved procedures for verifying identity

Recommendation 12  – Page 33

That improved procedures for all marriage celebrants be established to verify the identity of the parties applying to be married.

Additional Categories for Shortening of Time

Recommendation 13 – Page 35

That the EXISTING Schedule 1B Circumstances for authorising marriage despite late notice (regulation 39) be changed from

There are the five categories of circumstances set out in the regulations.  These are:
  • Employment related or other travel commitments,
  • Wedding or celebration arrangements, or religious considerations,
  • Medical reasons,
  • Legal proceedings,
  • Error in giving notice.
To:

Schedule 1B Circumstances for authorising marriage despite late notice (regulation 39)

There are the seven categories of circumstances set out in the regulations.  These are:
  • Employment related or other travel commitments,
  • Wedding or celebration arrangements, or religious considerations,
  • Medical reasons,
  • Legal proceedings,
  • Error in giving notice
  • Established relationship of 3 months
  • Pregnancy
The definition of an established relationship of 3 months would be that the parties to the marriage have known one another, been engaged to, or lived with one another for at least 3 months.

Revision of the Role of Prescribed Authorities

Recommendation 14 – Page 36

That the role of the Prescribed Authorities be reviewed to address the primary concerns of the Federal Government as they relate to couples marrying in a shorter time than Australia allows, given Australia could just as easily determine, like many other countries, a much shorter time.

Additional Classes of Prescribed Authorities

Recommendation 15 – Page 36

That a new class of Prescribed Authorities be created from Community Based Marriage Celebrants (both religious and civil) such that there would be a minimum of 4 Community-based Marriage Celebrant Prescribed Authorities per electorate available after-hours and weekends to process requests for Shortening of Time.

Education and Information for Prescribed Authorities and Their Staff

Recommendation 16 – Page 37

That the processes for the appointment of Prescribed Authorities (PA) be reviewed to  ensure that all PAs
  • be provided with a handbook on their responsibilities, including the need to inform themselves and any front-line personnel of their roles, and of the dangers of moralizing and discriminating against couples simply on the basis of their making a request for Shortening of Time.
  • have access to the Celebrant Only section of the MLCS of the AGD’s website.
Note: It is also expected that this information would be available to all marriage celebrants via the Marriage Celebrants Only On-line Portal section of the MLSC website.

Celebrant rights re service provision

Recommendation 17 – Page 38

PLEASE NOTE - THIS RECOMMENDATION UPON FURTHER RESEARCH HAS BEEN WITHDRAWN AS BY THE CCN INC NATIONAL COMMITTEE 2015


Change the EXISTING Marriage Act Section 47 from:

47 Ministers of religion not bound to solemnize marriage etc.

Nothing in this Part:
(a) imposes an obligation on an authorized celebrant, being a minister of religion, to solemnize any marriage; or
(b) prevents such an authorized celebrant from making it a condition of his or her solemnizing a marriage that:
(i) longer notice of intention to marry than that required by this Act is given; or
(ii) requirements additional to those provided by this Act are observed
.

To:

47 Celebrants’ Rights re Service Provision etc.

47 Authorised Marriage Celebrants not bound to solemnize marriage etc.

Nothing in this Part:
(a) imposes an obligation on an authorized celebrant, to solemnize any marriage;
(b) prevents an authorized celebrant, being a religious celebrant, from making it a condition of his or her solemnizing a marriage that:
(i) longer notice of intention to marry than that required by this Act is given; or
(ii) requirements additional to those provided by this Act are observed.

Statement of Authorisation and Definition of Marriage

Recommendation 18 – Page 39

Change the EXISTING Marriage Act Section 46 from

46 Certain authorised celebrants to explain nature of marriage relationship

(1) Subject to subsection (2), before a marriage is solemnized by or in the presence of an authorized celebrant, not being a minister of religion of a recognized denomination, the authorized celebrant shall say to the parties, in the presence of the witnesses, the words:

“I am duly authorized by law to solemnize marriages according to law.

“Before you are joined in marriage in my presence and in the presence of these witnesses, I am to remind you of the solemn and binding nature of the relationship into which you are now about to enter.

“Marriage, according to law in Australia, is the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.”;

or words to that effect
.

(2) Where, in the case of a person authorized under subsection 39(2) to solemnize marriages, the Minister is satisfied that the form of ceremony to be used by that person sufficiently states the nature and obligations of marriage, the Minister may, either by the instrument by which that person is so authorized or by a subsequent instrument, exempt that person from compliance with subsection (1) of this section.

To:

46 Authorised celebrants make their status clear and explain nature of marriage relationship

(1) Subject to subsection (2), before a marriage is solemnized by or in the presence of an authorized celebrant, not being a minister of religion of a recognized denomination, the authorized celebrant shall say to the parties, in the presence of the witnesses and at some point before Section 45, the words:

“I am authorized by law to witness and register this marriage according to law.

“Before you are joined in marriage in my presence and in the presence of these witnesses, I am to remind you of the solemn, binding and special nature of the relationship into which you are now about to enter.

“Marriage, according to law in Australia, is the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, entered into voluntarily on the understanding that this relationship is for life.”

(2) delete

NOTE: Whilst The CCN Inc. assumes that it is not within the scope of this review, the CCN Inc. recommends and supports the change of the definition of marriage to:

“Marriage, according to law in Australia, is the union of two adults to the exclusion of all others, entered into voluntarily on the understanding that this relationship is for life.”

Form of ceremony - Parties publicly consent to marry

Recommendation 19 – Page 42

Change the EXISTING Marriage Act Section 45 from:

Marriage Act Section 45 Form of ceremony

(1) Where a marriage is solemnized by or in the presence of an authorized celebrant, being a minister of religion, it may be solemnized according to any form and ceremony recognized as sufficient for the purpose by the religious body or organization of which he or she is a minister.

(2) Where a marriage is solemnized by or in the presence of an authorized celebrant, not being a minister of religion, it is sufficient if each of the parties says to the other, in the presence of the authorized celebrant and the witnesses, the words:

“I call upon the persons here present to witness that I, A.B. (or C.D.), take thee, C.D. (or A.B.), to be my lawful wedded wife (or husband)”;

or words to that effect.

(3) Where a marriage has been solemnized by or in the presence of an authorized celebrant, a certificate of the marriage prepared and signed in accordance with section 50 is conclusive evidence that the marriage was solemnized in accordance with this section.

(4) Nothing in subsection (3) makes a certificate conclusive:

(a) where the fact that the marriage ceremony took place is in issue—as to that fact; or
(b) where the identity of a party to the marriage is in issue—as to the identity of that party.

To:

Marriage Act Section 45 Form of ceremony

(1) Where a marriage is solemnized by or in the presence of an authorized celebrant, not being a minister of religion, it may be solemnized according to any form and ceremony recognized as sufficient for the purpose by the marriage celebrant and is sufficient if, in the presence of the authorized celebrant and the witnesses, each of the parties indicates consent to the marriage by saying in words or indicating in some other form to the other:

I, A. take you, B, to be my wife (or husband or marriage partner or partner in marriage or spouse)

Or words to that effect.

(2)(3) Where a marriage has been solemnized by or in the presence of an authorized celebrant, a certificate of the marriage prepared and signed in accordance with section 50 is conclusive evidence that the marriage was solemnized in accordance with this section.

(3) (4) Nothing in subsection (2)(3) makes a certificate conclusive:

(a) where the fact that the marriage ceremony took place is in issue—as to that fact; or
(b) where the identity of a party to the marriage is in issue—as to the identity of that party.

Processes to Minimize Identity Fraud

Recommendation 20 – Page 45

That  a funding component should be built into Cost Recovery to allow people getting married to use a “Verification Change of Name” Form via their celebrant, along with a statutory declaration, for a small or no fee to address this problem, if the federal government has other reasons for wanting to secure a paper trial for the identity of citizens.

SECTION C - INCREASING PROFESSIONALISM  

Guiding Principles
(Re: COCA Recommendation 1)  

Recommendation 21 – Page 46

That, in addition to the CoCA principles, the Attorney General applies the following principles in addressing Cost Recovery for the purpose of “increasing professionalism”.
  1. All marriage celebrants are providing a government service to the community on behalf of the Federal Government under the Marriage Act 1961. As such the aims and delivery of the program need to have the best interests of the community as its highest priority.
  2. All marriage celebrants and marrying couples need to be treated with the same respect and upon the same underlying principles, whether the ceremony is conducted within a religious context or not. Note marriage was originally in Western culture, and is in Australia, a civil (not religious) function governed by one Commonwealth Marriage Act.
  3. The Commonwealth Attorney General’s Office and its Department has a leadership role in the areas of justice for all citizens and the removal of all forms of discrimination.
  4. The Commonwealth Attorney General’s Department has a responsibility to ensure that all aspects of the Marriage Celebrant Program operate in a fair and equitable manner and that cost recovery does not use ‘loop holes’ in government policy to continue unfair practices.
  5. The primary profession through which marriage services need to be delivered is that of a family and community focused celebrant, whether religious or not, and where marriage ceremonies are part of a range of ceremonies delivered by the profession.  That is, marriage celebrancy is a sub-set of the broader professional role of ‘Family and Community Celebrant’. i.e. Civil Celebrancy as a profession fits within the context of the three original professions of Ministry, Law, and Medicine.
  6. The potential for Civil Celebrants to assist other government goals in the areas of human rights, social inclusion, physical and mental heath, and the prevention of domestic violence and child abuse should not be adversely affected by the way in which the Marriage Celebrant program is perceived and administered.
  7. Compliance measures should be fair and should not be used to discriminate against independent civil marriage celebrants who should  not have to meet  more rigorous standards than those that apply to recognized religious celebrants.
  8. Compliance measures need to be based upon a well designed and non-discriminatory program that is designed to improve professionalism of the delivery of ALL marriage services, rather than building a bigger bureaucracy.
Limiting Appointments to Community Need
(Re: COCA Recommendation 2)

Recommendation 22 – Page 47

That all people being considered for appointment need to have a current pass from the Pre-Appointment Knowledge and Skills Assessment. “Current” is defined as being within the two years prior to consideration for appointment by a Regional Advisory Committee.  

Recommendation 23 – Page 48

That the Attorney General establish
  1. its own appointment panel and criteria to elect the most appropriate people for the vacancies in that region and/or  
  2. a random draw from the pool of all the suitable applicants for that Region
after all other processes have been completed, if the Department considers that the face-to-face interview process recommended by CoCA not practical (NB CCN Inc. considers that the CoCA plan can be practical.)

Celebrant pre-training processes
(COCA Recommendation 4)

The CCN Inc. supports the principles outlined in COCA recommendation 4.  However 4.2 Implement a Suitability Course does not need to be as complicated as implied by this title.

Recommendation 24 – Page 51

That a simple process could be implemented using a two hour information session, designed and conducted by the MLCS in conjunction with the BDMs and CoCA representatives held at the BDM offices or other suitable venues, available once or twice per year.

Review approaches to Marriage Celebrant Training
(COCA Recommendation 5)

Recommendation 25 – Page 52

That, in addition to the CoCA recommendations on the Certificate IV in Celebrancy, the Attorney General refer this recommendation to the appropriate Branch of the AGD or other government department to advocate for the development of following new VET units to be available for students for a range of Certificate IV courses in the Community Services and Health Sector, including students of the Certificate IV in Celebrancy.
  • UNIT 1 Human Rights, Discrimination, and Citizenship – Evolution of separation of church and state; Human Rights’ history and examples of the ways that belief systems about the meaning of life and causes of human behaviour have impacted and still do impact the treatment of women, people with disabilities, people with mental illness, people vulnerable to life style pressures etc. Rights and Responsibilities of Citizens in a secular multicultural society
  • UNIT 2 Spirituality, Religion, and Community - Relationship between belief, faith, knowledge, and behaviour; Secular (Civil) Spirituality, New Age and other Forms of Spirituality, Comparative Religion, Cults, Advantages and Disadvantages, Stages of Religious/Spiritual/Psychological Growth, Examination of spiritual and religious beliefs and their impacts on human rights and society.
  • UNIT  3 Rites of Passage and Stages of Human Growth to Maturity (physical, mental, spiritual and social, cultural) - Symbolism, Dependence, Independence, Interdependence issues.  Their relation to alcohol and other drug use, mental health, violence, etc. Examination of the SA program used in some schools, called The Rite Journey (a unique educational programme designed to support the development of self-aware, vital, responsible and resilient adults) http://theritejourney.com.au/
  • UNIT 4 Role of Community Citizenship Celebrant - Role of a Community Citizenship Celebrant; Australian Constitution; Basic structure of Australia’s legal system; History and Law as related to Citizenship; Rights  & Responsibilities of Citizenship; Citizenship Ceremonies and Programs; Knowledge of   factors affecting the social and cultural development of all citizens; local community structures and their relationships with federal, state, and local government; research, liaison and referral skills,
  • UNIT 5 Role of Civil Chaplain for schools, hospitals etc.  - The role of civil chaplain; its benefits and limitations; support structures for the role; principles of empowerment of people to take responsibility for the well-being of self and others; problem identification and referral; knowledge and understanding of well-being structures; advantages and limits of providing emotional/spiritual support and leadership, crisis management principles; values clarification and analysis; leadership skills, motivational skills.
Review approaches to Ongoing Professional Development (OPD)
(COCA Recommendation 7)

Recommendation 26 – Page 53

That the Attorney General make provision for independent basic feedback related to OPD for planning and review, in addition to the recording of OPD activities completed by the marriage celebrant. For example: via the Celebrant Only section of the website.

Upgrade to MLCS Web and IT systems
(COCA Recommendation 8)

Recommendation 27 – Page 55

That the Attorney General require all marriage celebrants to complete an annual return as regards
  • their delivery of marriage services, and
  • their evidence of their Duty of Care in the provision of their Marriage Services
  • their compliance with any other responsibilities they may have under the Marriage Act and Regulations and associated laws.
Support for Celebrant Associations and other Stakeholders
(COCA Recommendation 11)

Recommendation 28 – Page 55

That Cost Recovery measures include the provision for some funding to support the State Registries of Births, Deaths and Marriages in their involvement with the “Expert Resource Team” and the provision of Ongoing Professional Development, as required and as appropriate, for State registered marriage celebrants.

Support for Public Information on Marriage.
(COCA Recommendation 12)

Recommendation 29 – Page 56

That the Attorney General facilitate the availability of “blank” decorative Wedding Anniversaries Certificates with the Commonwealth of Australia (similar in style but not security to Form 15) to be available for purchase by all marriage celebrants via either Canprint or the State Registry Offices.

Recommendation 30 – Page 57

That the Attorney General facilitate a process of dialogue between the ML&CS with other relevant AG and government departments to improve the flow of information on marriage related issues to all marriage celebrants.

Recommendation 31 – Page 57

That the Attorney General facilitate the development of a Coming of Citizenship Age Pack to be utilised by suitably trained marriage celebrants to be available via Canprint and to include:
  • an appropriately worded and designed Coming of Citizenship Age Certificate
  • a copy of the  Australian Constitution (and /or a Summary thereof)
  • an Electoral Voting Pack including a Summary of the Australian Voting system
  • a Citizenship (Human) Rights and Responsibility  Booklet


·     any other material as deemed appropriate by government for young adults who are about to reach citizenship age.
Last modified on Friday, 27 January 2017 23:46