Reply by AG George Brandis in reply to Personal letter by Dally Messenger
re a Moratorium on the appointment of celebrants

Nov 13, 2013

Dear Mr Messenger

Thank you for your correspondence of 25 September 2013 about the Marriage Celebrants Program, in particular that a moratorium be placed on new registrations under the Program.

I agree that Commonwealth-registered marriage celebrants provide an important service to the community and appreciate your concerns about its past administration.

I do not consider a moratorium to be a viable or efficient way to manage the number of existing marriage celebrants registered under the Program. Experience with the 2003-08 'cap' on new registrations was that it did not dissuade people from applying to become a celebrant. Rather it led to extensive waiting lists for aspiring celebrants which led to the then Attorney-General increasing the cap in 2006 from 10% to 20%. Ultimately, many of those on the waiting lists became registered when the cap expired in 2008.

The introduction in 2010 of the requirement that applicants hold a Certificate IV level qualification has significantly reduced the number of applications submitted for registration from 3,180 in 2009 to 953 in 2010, 703 in20ll and 704 in 20l2. This represents an average of 50 applications per month in 20l2 as opposed to an average of 265 applications per rnonth in 2009. I have attached to this letter a chart that sets out the number of applications, registrations and total celebrants per registration year since 2003.

As a trainer of aspiring marriage celebrants you will be aware that the higher qualification delivers more in-depth training than the previously required single unit of competency and better equips celebrants to fulfill their legal and professional role.

You may also be aware that my department recently sought the views of celebrants and their association, including from the Humanist Celebrant Network, on the best approach for ongoing professional development (OPD) from20l4 and beyond. This approach includes a recommendation by celebrants that approved celebrant association conferences be counted as an elective activity. I understand that the process for celebrant associations to apply for their conference to count as OPD will be available on my department's website in

November 2013. You may also be aware that my department is currently finalising a selection process to approve OPD providers to deliver OPD to Commonwealth-registered marriage celebrants.

I am interested in both the history and future of the Program. I am also confident that working together with my department, Commonwealth-registered marriage celebrants and their representatives will strengthen the role and improve their standing in the community-

Thank you again for taking the time to write to me to express your views about the Program

George Brandis
Attorney General

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