PROPOSED CHANGE: Celebrants Dot Orchard of Goonellabah and Jo Kilburn of North Lismore are concerned about fees to be brought in by the Federal Government.
PROPOSED CHANGE: Celebrants Dot Orchard of Goonellabah and Jo Kilburn of North Lismore are concerned about fees to be brought in by the Federal Government. Raphael James

With this fee, I thee wed

MARRIAGE celebrants will have to pay $240 in yearly fees and new celebrant hopefuls will have to pay $600 simply to apply to be a celebrant under a new change from the Australian Government.

Local celebrants Dot Orchard and Jo Kilburn were surprised to find a letter sent to them from the Attorney-General's Department informing them that from July 1 this year celebrants will have to pay a fee of $240 each year to keep their licence.

In addition, new celebrants will have to pay $600 to apply to be a celebrant (with no guarantee they will be approved).

Mrs Orchard said they've never had to pay any fees like this before, apart from their training costs (usually between $2000-$3000).

The fee will mean they'll probably have to increase their own fees for clients, she said.

But it's not all bad - Mrs Orchard and Mrs Kilburn believe these fees will help bring celebrants into line.

For some celebrants who only do the occasional wedding, Mrs Orchard said, it will be hard for them financially and may mean they give up the side gig.

Others, like themselves, whose main job is as a celebrant, probably won't mind the fees too much, they said.

They just aren't sure why the changes are happening.

The letter informing them of the policy change states the funds from the fees will be used to:

"Administer the Marriage Celebrants program on a cost recovery basis ... it will enable the (delivery of) a range of new and improved services to Commonwealth-registered marriage celebrants ... through the new online celebrant portal, a dedicated phone service, updated written information, guidance and advice to assist marriage celebrants in performing their role."

"To me, with this online celebrant's portal, it seems like they're asking for this money to 'help us' but we're the ones who are going to be doing more work," Mrs Kilburn said.



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