Recommendation 6:

Term of Reference 

potential amendments to improve the effect of the bill and the likelihood of achieving the support of the Senate
The ICCA support this recommendation made by the Coalition of Celebrant Associations (CoCA) Inc. in its submission to the Select Committee on the Exposure Draft of the Marriage Amendment (Same-Sex Marriage) Bill.

Recommendation 6:  

That Subdivision C Marriage Celebrants be divided into two subdivisions – Subdivision C, Commonwealth civil celebrants and Subdivision D, Commonwealth religious celebrants - to enable the initial training and professional development of the two groups to be addressed discretely.

Why is this an issue?

The merging of two different types of Commonwealth Marriage Celebrants creates confusion for the public seeking civil marriage services and addressing their different training and regulation needs to the high standard required by the Act’s Code of Practice of Subdivision C marriage celebrants.

  1. As provided in the Coalition of Celebrant Associations (CoCA) Inc.’s submission to this Select Committee on the Exposure Draft of the Marriage Amendment (Same-Sex Marriage) Bill.

  2. Prior to the 2003 changes, the Attorney-General’s Department had different internal policies governing the appointment of Commonwealth Subdivision C marriage celebrants which included;
    1. Celebrants with non-English languages (were only able to conduct marriages in the specific languages)
    2. Celebrants with specific disabilities (were only able to conduct marriages for the specific disability groups)
    3. Celebrants from small religious groups or sects (for organisations not large enough to obtain “Recognised Religious” status, and only able conduct marriages for their religious group) - See Attachment 3.
    4. Celebrants appointed to provide civil marriage ceremonies based upon the same principles as Subdivision B State and Territory Officers as regards the legal components of the ceremony.

  3. With the introduction of a professional model of celebrancy, Anti-Discrimination Legislation covered marriage celebrants in groups (2a) and (2b) above.

    However an unintended consequence of the 2002 legislation was that the remaining two quite different groups (2c and 2b above) -  independent religious celebrants and  independent civil celebrants - were combined.

    Therefore the initial qualifications and continuing professional development needs of these quite different groups are not addressed in educationally sound and effective manner.

  4. The result has been 

    1. lower training qualifications for independent professional civil celebrants who conduct a range of unique personalised civil ceremonies, including marriage, than they need to participate effectively in the work force and 

    2. higher qualifications than necessary for independent religious celebrants whose ceremonies, including marriage, are set by their religious organisation in the same way as Recognised Religions’ marriage celebrants under the Act.

    3. Separation of these two types of Commonwealth Marriage Celebrants would assist in a clearer separation of “church and state” functions as well as more effectively addressing their training and regulation.

  5. There are approximately 40 of these Commonwealth Subdivision C celebrants (See Appendix 3) who have been authorised for both religious and civil ceremonies making their primary allegiance to civil or religious law confusing for the marrying public.