Continuing Education for Pastors

Compulsory Marriage Celebrant PD

marriage certificate

During 2014 the Commonwealth Government’s Attorney General’s Department developed a compulsory professional development program for Marriage Celebrants.

For a while this news caused a considerable amount of consternation amongst the clergy of all denominations, as the requirements for the program were quite stringent and, it was generally agreed, quite unnecessary.

*  * * However, we eventually determined that the program does apply to denominational ordained clergy.

Nevertheless, for those of you who might be interested in what this program does entail, we shall leave the original information made available to LCA pastors on the website. As a matter of historical interest, we shall also leave on the website the discussion and comments made at the time by various pastors.

_______________________________

The program is as follows:

Excluding denominational clergy, all Commonwealth registered Marriage Celebrants, including those who perform religious ceremonies, are now required to undertake 5 hours of Ongoing Professional Development (OPD) every year.

This OPD must be provided by the Attorney General’s Department approved providers.

Overview

♦    The OPD is made up of a compulsory activity as determined by the Attorney General’s Department and electives that the celebrant chooses to complete.

♦     Each pastor makes their own choices and organises training in whichever way they choose (face to face, distance, or online), and with whichever organisation they choose.

♦     A full 5 hours must be completed each year.

♦     If more than 5 hours of OPD is completed in one year this balance does not count towards OPD in any other years.

♦     Exemptions can be granted in exceptional circumstances and an application form for exemption must be received in the year the exemption is needed.

♦     [Whether or not this OPD counts towards your LCA CEP for the year – or is in addition to it – is a matter yet to be determined by the College of Bishops.  At this stage, notify the CEP co-ordinator of your completion of this OPD by e-mailing copies of any certificates of completion you receive from the AG’s Department. This information will be included on your LAMP record.]

Further Information & Resources

All information on this and other matters related to Marriage Celebrants can be found on the Attorney General’s website.

Click on the following links for information on various aspects of this program:

♦    Basic & Further Information on the OPD

♦    Background paper on the program

♦    Approved providers and activities

♦    OPD Activities – 2014

♦    Exemptions

Providers:

The current Attorney General’s Department approved providers for OPD are:

*   AssentTECS

*   Australian Celebrations Training

*   International College of Celebrancy

*   Gordon Institute of TAFE

Of these, you might especially like to check out the e-book materials provided by Australian Celebrations Training (click here to go to their website)

Cost

The cost for all this. (app $110 per year, depending on what studies you choose).

Reactions/Responses

When this information was first published on the CEP website, a number of pastors expressed their concern at the government’s imposition of this kind of requirement upon them. At that stage we were still under the impression that all clergy were mandated to undertake this PD, and only as a result of further enquiries by some of those pastors did the lack of clarity on this question arise (and hence the rider at the beginning of this page).

The nub of the dispute is whether or not pastors, whose marriage registration is State-based (as distinct from Commonwealth-based), are still also legally Commonwealth-listed. Additional to that is the question of whether or not States have their own requirements for marriage celebrant PD, apart from the requirements of the Commonwealth. [At present we know only that Queensland does not require marriage celebrant PD for clergy in its State.]

Regardless of the outcome of the current investigation, there is a debate to be had about this issue. Therefore, even though the angst initially expressed by some pastors has diminished for the moment, we shall include the comments already sent into us on this topic, as well as any other comments that continue to be submitted.

 asteriskIn the meantime, however. . .

. . . Do make use of the information on this page for your own professional development. There are a lot of valuable learning resources available through the information on this page, and you may wish to draw upon them for some of your own ministry needs and education. I understand, for example, that the Australian Celebrations Training materials can be utilised on an audit basis, and at a reduced (or even waived) fee.

8 comments on “Compulsory Marriage Celebrant PD

  1. Lou
    September 4, 2014

    I for one will not be going ahead with this. I will be retiring next year. Also, I can see 3 hours of useful instruction for pastors on this, so I can’t even fill in the first 5 hours. What will happen next year? Do the same 3 hours again. Also when you only do 2-3 marriages a year it means paying $100 for it gets quite expensive, especally when you don’t charge members.
    xpecting us to pay for all the forms, now they want us to pay more for training. No way.The Church is providing a free service for the Government, yet they are not only ep

  2. Tim Klein
    September 4, 2014

    I am concerned at how the Attorney General’s Department can just impose this requirement on active, experienced, practicing celebrants? Perhaps I’m deaf and blind, but this is the first time it has come to my attention?
    Till this point in time, If I have encountered an unfamiliar issue, I have found answers in available resources, or as last resort, through contact with the relevant department.
    So, do we know what national issue has brought this about?
    Is this because of new style celebrants now establishing commercial businesses?
    Is this process directed as part of a push to legalize gay marriage?
    Has the church as a whole been consulted in this matter?
    I am not sure we should, as a significant body of practicing celebrants just roll over on this matter.
    Do we really need to participate in another potentially multi-million $ level of educative bureaucracy?
    Surely, as a national body, or participating with a National Christian Body, we can respond to this imposition – at least seek to have the central requisite training incorporated in some way in our ministry training, or seek for recognition of elements of our training to be accepted as fulfilling their requirements?

  3. tjilpi
    September 4, 2014

    Hi Bob, I know this is not your fault but I need to vent. This is now officially the stupidest thing I have ever heard (OK not really but it is up there). What is the government thinking.
    How to read poetry in the ceremony… How to get youtube to work for you… Getting together your wedding kit bag… give me a break.
    Please, please, please have the bishops work together with the heads of churches on getting some change to this.

    What are the implications of not attending especially as we hear about this in September and most of the opportunities to work it into our program have passed???

    Is the a patron saint of those suffering under ridiculous bureaucracy?? Saint Humphrey (Appleby) perhaps.

  4. Boyd
    September 5, 2014

    I think we’ll need to take this up seriously, either as a Pastors’ Conference or perhaps the Bishops can share some wisdom. This seems like a very poor use of resources in my case. I have one or two weddings a year. I also note there is an annual registration fee of $240 a year. Do we pay this or is it a cost to the LCA or the Districts? Maybe we should let the state do the official paperwork and we can go back to blessing the people in our care. I’ve always been a bit nervous about weddings and the ridiculous amount of paperwork involved. Oh for an Australia card … but now I’m off on something else.

  5. Wally Schiller
    September 5, 2014

    I agree, Lou,
    I have sent an email directly in response to the LAMP message stating that it is my belief that it is time we hand this all over to the Government and we just do a religious ceremony over which the Government has no control. That way, we will not be forced to conduct marriages in due course which are not marriages at all and which we as Christians will not want to endorse, let alone conduct.

  6. Lou
    September 5, 2014

    I emailed the Attorney Generals Dep on this and they rang straight back to say that those who are registered in the State do not have to do this. I think all Lutheran Pastor Celebrants are state registered so we do not have to do the PD.
    Bob’s latest info says that we still may have to do the PD, but the person who rang me told me that we do not have to do it. I told her that she made my day.

  7. Wally Schiller
    September 5, 2014

    Lou,
    I think you are correct – it was also my understanding when I made inquiries.
    However, the fact still remains: this is a hotch-potch. The Government has not got its act together. It fumbles on the matter that it is a Commonwealth Act that is administered on a State basis and it allows different rules to apply in different states. Consequently, we are saddled with the inevitable fall-out from such a failure. I say again: It is time we get out of this business. Let’s get the ball rolling on this! Start a movement that is more productive than the movement that this is giving us at the moment!!

  8. Rodney Witmitz
    January 22, 2015

    I actually did the training when I shifted across to WA and, though I agree with ‘tjilpi’ about most of the elective section, I found the compulsory section most relevant. In fact, coming across the information on the governor generals page was the only way that I found out the the legislation had changed and our marriage handbooks were no longer current. So – it was a great update for me and incentive to find out what were my legal requirements now under the current legislation. Worth the $100 not to misinform couples and end up with up to a $10,000 fine or 3 years in prison!
    I found it more disconcerting that the LCA hadn’t been informed or passed on information regarding changes that we needed to know.

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