How pleased I was to learn of upcoming changes which will advantage Australian born couples heading down the aisle. To date it has been a requirement that prospective brides and grooms must show the celebrant their Australian birth certificate (in the original form, not even a 'certified' copy is acceptable!) People born overseas are allowed to show their overseas passport. It has been very hard to explain to 'locals', why a passport is considered unacceptable, just because you were born in this country and you had to produce a birth certificate to get your passport in the first place!
Well the good news is that two Bills currently going through the parliamentary process will result in some subtle changes, one of which is that from July 2013, Australian born brides and grooms may now produce their passport in lieu of their original birth certificate. No more hassles, rushing off to the local government office and forking out for a birth certificate because you simply can't put your hands on the one you know is "tucked away somewhere safe".
Also pleasing is the announcement that the pamphlet "Happily Ever...Before and After'" (Form 14A) which must be handed to all marrying couples, is receiving a long overdue re-vamp! When trying to give a high standard of service to couples, it is disappointing to have to give out a pamphlet that is dated and largely irrelevant.
On the downside, the Bill before the Parliament also involves the introduction of an annual 'professional fee' to practise as a celebrant, along with an annual return which will determine the continuation of a celebrant's 'authority' to practise. Some of our profession will be able to absorb this fee, but for others who perform very few weddings, it will need to be passed on to their couples. It is not clear to me how payment of a fee will contribute to my 'professionalism', or how that payment to a Commonwealth department will change anything about how I go about my business. Such is life!