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Ongoing professional development (OPD)

Commonwealth-registered marriage celebrants must complete 5 hours of Ongoing Professional Development (OPD) every calendar year.

Your responsibilities for OPD

As a Commonwealth-registered marriage celebrant, you must complete 5 hours of OPD every calendar year (January to December). This includes religious marriage celebrants.

The activities can be:

  • activities we set (compulsory)
  • activities you choose (elective)

You may be disciplined if you don't complete these requirements.

We publish a list of OPD activities at the start of each calendar year. The list is required by law and is published on the Federal Register of Legislation.

We only set compulsory activities in years when there has been a major change to the:

  • legislation
  • guidelines
  • Marriage Celebrant Program

We will never set more than 2 compulsory activities in a year.

You cannot claim recognition of prior learning (RPL) towards your OPD activities.

If you do more than 5 hours of activities in a year, it will not count towards the next year.

OPD in your first year as a Commonwealth-registered marriage celebrant

You don't have to complete OPD in your first year as a celebrant if:

  • you have just been registered as a marriage celebrant, and
  • you were awarded a Certificate IV in Celebrancy in the 12 months before the date you were registered

We may also give you an exemption from OPD if you are registered towards the end of a calendar year.

You don't have to apply for these exemptions. We will tell you in your registration email if you are exempt for these reasons.

If you don't meet either of these criteria, you must complete your OPD or apply to not complete OPD for 1 year.

Approved providers for OPD activities

These training organisations have been approved to deliver OPD activities:

Some celebrant association/network conferences are also approved to count towards OPD obligations.

Cost of OPD

To find out the cost of an activity, contact the provider directly.

OPD in 2020

The OPD activities for 2020 are set out in the Marriage (Celebrant Professional Development) Statement 2020 (the Statement).

The rules for this year are:

  • there are no set compulsory activities
  • you must complete 5 hours of elective activities
  • you must choose at least 1 activity from Table 1 in the statement
  • if you need to do more activities to make up the 5 hours, choose an activity from Table 1 or Table 2

Associations that can apply to provide OPD

Your celebrant association should contact an approved OPD provider if they want to organise OPD for their members.

If the association is running a conference, they can complete the association conference application form for 2021 and email it to us by 31 January 2021.

In years where there is a compulsory activity, they may be able to deliver the activity at the conference.

RTOs that can apply to provide units for a Certificate IV in Celebrancy

If we approve, RTOs that offer a Certificate IV in Celebrancy can deliver units from the course that count towards Ongoing professional development (OPD). To count as OPD, celebrants must undertake and complete the entire unit (including any assessment) in the calendar year in which it is intended to count as OPD. RTOs that we have already approved are listed in the statement.

RTOs seeking approval should complete and return this declaration to us:

Your completed declaration must be submitted by 31 January in the calendar year in which the units are intended to count as OPD.

If we approve it, we will publish it in the statement early in the calendar year. You can only offer units that count towards OPD after you have been published in the statement.

How we monitor OPD

You can upload the completion of your OPD in the self-service portal yourself.

Download guidance on upload OPD into the self-service portal:

When you complete an OPD activity, the approved provider will also send us confirmation.

You will be able to see this in the self-service portal after we receive a report from the provider (usually at the end of the quarter).

If you believe the provider has given us incorrect information, you should contact them and ask them to correct it.

We monitor who has and hasn't completed their OPD activities.

If you haven't completed your activities by the end of the year you may be issued with a disciplinary measure.

Feedback about OPD

You can give feedback about OPD to the provider or your celebrant association.

You can also email us.

Apply to not complete OPD for 1 year

You can only apply to not complete OPD in exceptional circumstances. Exceptional means you are unable to complete your OPD:

  • by any possible means
  • for a significant period of the calendar year

We make each decision on a case by case basis.

Valid reasons could include:

  • serious illness
  • significant carer responsibilities

You must provide evidence to support your reason, such as a doctor's certificate.

We don't usually give exemptions for:

  • financial difficulties
  • being in a remote area
  • having a short term illness
  • not performing marriage ceremonies
  • being overseas for a long period

You must apply for the exemption before 31 December in the year you want to be exempt.

If we give you an exemption, it is only for that year. You must still do your OPD activities next year, or apply for a new exemption.

Apply for an exemption online

You can apply online via the self-service portal. Choose 'OPD exemption' and complete the form.

Make sure you upload evidence to support your application. This must be a PDF document.

You will need to pay a $30 application fee. This cannot be refunded, and your application won't be processed until we receive it.

Try to apply as early in the year as possible. This will give you time to complete your OPD if we don't approve your application.

We will tell you in writing what we decide and will update the self-service portal. If we don't approve your application, we will tell you why.

If you need help, call 1800 550 343 or email us.

Download information about OPD and exemptions

Contact details

Marriage Law and Celebrants Section
1800 550 343
Outside Australia: +61 2 6141 3111
3-5 National Circuit BARTON ACT 2600