Celebrants: Excessive number of appointments is totally destructive.

Saturday, 12 October 2019

Memo: To Public Servants and Associations

Meeting on October 28th, 2019. 

Re the Number of Celebrants and
the sustained deluging of the market.

Dear Public Servants and Associations,

I am still alarmed that no discussion seems to be allowed on the one and the most important problem which is so destructive of the celebrant program – that of excessive numbers.

I keep my ear to the ground and talk to celebrants and the general public all the time.  There are a few quite wonderful celebrants, who by dint of skilled advertising on the internet and good reputation, manage to gain enough ceremonies to earn a part time income. There are a few  celebrants who are so well off financially that they are able spend a great deal of money to hire internet skills.  

The majority of celebrants, however, struggle to gain one or two ceremonies a year and when they do, through lack of practice, they forget the skillset needed and the procedures required. The public suffers from their lack of ceremonial expertise.

I am impelled to repeat the points I have made before. There are so many bad effects of these excessive numbers. 

  • Celebrants who used to be involved have lost interest; the energy they used to give to celebrancy, now goes to other activities.
  • All the work done with Ongoing Professional Development is mostly wasted because it is not applied. And by the time it might be applied it is forgotten.
  • In some areas over-competition has become really intense. Degrading and false claims in advertising abound. As a result we have lost status and dignity in the community.
  • Celebrants who outbid each other in price for ceremonies, find ways to lower standards. They find it impossible to put their time in to plan and execute a ceremony really well. These celebrants find it is not financially worthwhile to observe the high standards we have developed over many years, if they are not paid reasonably. 
  • Celebrants are thus spread too thin to develop intellectual, political and media leadership. 
  • Some celebrants have developed demeaning “gimmicks” to “get business”.
  • In general, celebrants have lost esteem in the eyes of the general public. I don’t see them looked to now for a range of other personal ceremonies (namings, adolescence, dedication of houses, industry transitions etc.). I don’t see them looked to as skilled ceremonialists for public ceremonies such as Anzac Day, or university and school graduations, building openings and the like. 
    • The good governance reputation of the Attorney-General and the Department, i.e. you, the public service, have been diminished. (Your over-concentration on legal trivia means that you are not concentrating your energies on the essence of the program. The people who pay your salary are only interested in the quality of the ceremony – after the event it is the only thing they discuss.)

THE NUMBERS: This is how I see it.
Before 2003, 1600 celebrants adequately catered for the whole of Australia. 2000 maybe would have been OK.

2500 would have been excessive.

Your destructive predecessors, dear public servants, against all advice, at that time appointed 11,000 !!

A crude bureaucratic fee and compulsory repetition OPD has forced out some wonderful celebrants. Admittedly it has reduced the numbers to 8,500 – still 6,500 too many.

Now, the influx of new celebrants equals or surpasses the ones who are resigning or dying. So we are stuck at this very destructive figure of 8,500.

If you are not insisting that this issue be discussed at your coming meeting, you are not speaking truth to power, and you are wasting each other’s money and time. 


YOUR QUESTION: What would I do?

  • 1. Place a moratorium on all appointments for say 5 years or so. (It was done before.) 
  • Make it clear that any “recognised” qualification only entitles people to apply to be a celebrant. Celebrants  are then only appointed through an independent vetting, selecting and interviewing process, according to balanced need.

(I wish I would have been a public servant — what a wonderful opportunity you have to do something good for the country.)

Respectfully yours with the utmost goodwill, 

Dally Messenger III STB, LCP, BEd, DipLib, ALAA

Currently: Principal of the  International College of Celebrancy

Sometime Lecturer – Victoria University – Graduate Diploma in Arts (Celebrancy)

Sometime Lecturer – Monash University – Graduate Diploma in Arts (Celebrancy)

Foundation President and Administrator of the Australian Federation of Civil Celebrants (1994-1999).

Sometime Life Member of the Australian Federation of Civil Celebrants (1996). 

(Until they abolished Life Members !!)

Life Member – Celebrants and Celebrations Network

Foundation President of the Australian Association of Funeral Celebrants (1978).

Foundation Secretary of the Association of Civil Marriage Celebrants of

Australia (1975-1980).

Author, Ceremonies and Celebrations (4 editions) – a handbook for celebrants.

Author, Murphy’s Law and the Pursuit of Happiness: A History of the Civil Celebrant Movement

dallymessenger@mac.com

Celebrants: index to previous blog posts

To be edited.

Civil Celebrants under threat from Phillip Ruddock MP who wants to turn us into old style registry offices.
https://iccdiplomas.com/2015/11/25/civil-celebrant-program-under-threat/ 
https://iccdiplomas.com/2015/07/12/the-french-model-mr-ruddock/ 

Celebrants: A Diploma course that focuses on Celebrancy
https://iccdiplomas.com/2015/01/11/education-and-training-for-celebrants/ 

https://iccdiplomas.com/2015/05/05/diploma-course-for-celebrants-skills-council/

Celebrants: A Celebrant’s Notebook by Anna Heriot
https://iccdiplomas.com/2018/08/05/1254/

Celebrants: Leadership from the top, reform Section 39 of the Marriage Act, reverse the monopoly on printing marriage certificates, ensure Funeral Celebrants are not controlled by Funeral Directors, instigate and adolescence ceremony. 
https://iccdiplomas.com/2014/07/21/celebrants-if-i-were-a-g-for-a-day/ 

Celebrants: Leadership, excessive numbers. proper Training
https://iccdiplomas.com/2014/01/29/celebrants-what-is-and-what-ought-to-be/ 

Celebrants: Valid Marriages, Disputes, Section 48 of the Marriage Act
https://iccdiplomas.com/2013/12/28/a-valid-marriage-yes-or-no/ 

Celebrants: The wedding Vows as a compact
Celebrants: The Wedding Vows as a Compact

Celebrants: Meeting with Public Service April14, 2016
https://iccdiplomas.com/2016/04/24/celebrants-meeting-with-public-service-april14-2016/

Celebrants: Civil Celebrants in New Jersey USA
https://iccdiplomas.com/2014/07/18/civil-celebrants-in-new-jersey-usa/

Celebrants: Signatures on the Decorative Marriage Certificate (Australia)
https://iccdiplomas.com/2015/06/05/signatures-of-the-decorative-marriage-certificate-australia/

Celebrants: Civil Celebrant Ceremonies Enrich the Culture and preserve genuine values
https://iccdiplomas.com/2018/05/01/civil-celebrant-ceremonies-enrich-the-culture-and-preserve-genuine-values/

Search Ceremony etc etc

http://www.collegeofcelebrancy.com.au/Pages5/DRM_To_AG_Brandis.html

http://www.collegeofcelebrancy.com.au/pages4/roxonopenltr4.html

http://www.collegeofcelebrancy.com/pages4/OpenLtrToDreyfus.html 

http://www.yourmarriagecelebrant.co/informs_re/Oz_CMCs-probs.html 

Celebrants: The objective, the plan, the vision

Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Dear public servants and fellow delegates,

Without a vision, the people perish.

In the last few years I have been looking at your Agendas and Minutes and find myself with a growing feeling of despair. I cannot detect the vision any more.

Let me explain. There are two groups in Australia who are good examples of those who understand deeply what the word “culture” means – the Aboriginal people and the Jewish community. Their lives are full of ceremonies and rituals all year round and all life through. They know who they are, and to whom they belong, because their values and beliefs are enshrined in these events.

Photo: Remi Messenger

When I was young, Christian church attendance dominated the lives of most people. The church and Christian organisations (e.g Boy Scout/Girl Guides, the YMCA, YWCA, YCW, CYO) dominated most Australian lives. The rich rituals and ceremonies of the Christian communities expressed, transmitted and reinforced values (most of them really good and still are), recognised achievements, and communicated self worth. How proud I was as a cub when I was awarded my badge for tying knots, putting up a tent and swimming 50 yards!).

These ceremonies connected communities and celebrated our history (think Anzac Day). Ceremonies helped people adjust to change – the marriage ceremony being an obvious example.

In addition to values, self belief and self worth, I gained a sense of identity (I was a cub, I was catholic, I was an Australian, I was a Messenger). And there’s more —- the Christian religion was full of stories, literature, songs, unbelievably beautiful music, choreography, symbolism, architecture, sculpture (pseudo sculpture!) and  paintings. The whole range of the visual and performing arts were communicated through the churches and their offshoots.

But then, for reasons I won’t go into here, the churches started to take nose dives. Church attendance dropped dramatically.

It was the renowned philosopher / businessman / philanthropist, Gordon Barton, who declared publicly that the biggest challenge facing the western world, in the Australian context, was to create a believable culture to replace the Christian churches. I think he said “filling the cultural vacuum”.

To over-explain. In Barton’s insight, the growing body of secular people needed a culture. They needed ceremonies, rituals, traditions, ceremonial constructs to acknowledge achievement, to engender identity, to establish values, to express the arts.

This has happened to a certain extent, but to my mind the greatest contribution to our secular culture came from our statesman founder, Lionel Murphy. He used his position as Attorney-General in the Whitlam government to enrich Australian society. He considered the establishment of civil celebrants one of his greatest achievements, if not his greatest achievement. He saw it as a reform that permeated the whole society, which he believed would do substantial and lasting good.

He saw celebrant ceremonies as the base of a rich culture for secular people; a culture that was honest, authentic, flexible, creative, and enriching.  He saw a complex of ceremonies in our society as touching and improving almost every individual, deepening their “spiritual” life.

Legalities were important – and Murphy could easily claim to be our greatest law reformer. But to him, when it came to celebrants, it was the human person who was paramount. He was well aware that happiness depends on how we think about ourselves, how we perceive others think of us, and what we think of of them. The values were psychological, societal, communal, familial, “spiritual”. Ceremonies, which humans have evolved to communicate in the most serious way we can, can achieve these ideals in many different ways and  circumstances. The better the ceremony, the more it achieves its aim.

This was his vision.
—-
So I ask, where is the concern and support for current celebrants to learn to create the full range of meaningful substantive ceremonies?

Dally Messenger III STB, LCP, BEd, DipLib, ALAA

Currently: Principal of the  International College of Celebrancy
Sometime Lecturer – Victoria University – Graduate Diploma in Arts (Celebrancy)

Sometime Lecturer – Monash University – Graduate Diploma in Arts (Celebrancy)
Foundation President and Administrator of the Australian Federation of Civil Celebrants (1994-1999).
Sometime Life Member of the Australian Federation of Civil Celebrants (1996). (Until they abolished Life Members !!)
Life Member – Celebrants and Celebrations Network
Foundation President of the Australian Association of Funeral Celebrants (1978).

Foundation Secretary of the Association of Civil Marriage Celebrants of Australia (1975-1980).
Author, Ceremonies and Celebrations (4 editions) – a handbook for celebrants.
Author, Murphy’s Law and the Pursuit of Happiness: A History of the Civil Celebrant Movement.

dallymessenger@mac.com

*<Badges and Awards are presented to Cub Scouts as recognition of their hard work towards a certain aspect of the Cub Scout program. They are based around a wide variety of achievements and activities and generally include one to three levels of achievement. Once received, Cub Scouts are able to proudly display their hard earned badges on their uniforms.>