Legal matters

Can I be forced to disclose confidential information I have been told?

By the very nature of our role, Ministers can be privvy to some very sensitive and confidential information, especially if receiving confessions from parishioners or the public. Whilst all Ministers should maintain the confidentiality of all they have been told in their role as a Minister, there is no legal right to confidentiality and if ordered by a court a Minister should disclose the information requested, or face prosecution for contempt of court.

Can I get tax concessions?

From a personal view, probably not. You may be entitled to claim certain rebates or deductions on your income tax if the ministry is your occupation, however you should discuss this with an accountant or tax agent to find out current entitlements.

Can I use parking marked Clergy?

Generally, yes, if you are on official ministry business AND you have displayed an appropriate sign identfying the vehicle as clergy. Some facilities may require an official parking permit issued by that facility so you should check to be sure.

Why can't I conduct weddings?

In Australia a marriage celebrant must be registered with the Federal Attorney Generals department. Unlike the USA, ordained Ministers of any religion are not automatically endorsed to conduct marriages, and only certain religious bodies are endorsed to nominate Ministers for registration as a Religious celebrant. Ministers from all other religious bodies, and others in the community, can be registered as a Civil celebrant through the civil celebrants programme.

The Fellowship is currently working towards gaining the recognition that will allow us to nominate AFSP Ministers to become registered Religious celebrants.

Can I park in disabled parking spaces?

Not unless you have a valid disabled parking permit. Whilst some hospitals or nursing homes may let clergy park in such spaces, this should not be taken as being fact unless you have been told by the facility management. In any case, the AFSP would discourage you from parking in any disabled parking space unless you or your passenger has an appropriate permit and an actual need to use that space.

Should I have public liability or other insurance?

This is a matter that each Minister and Congregation needs to consider themselves, and possibly even obtain independent legal advice over. Insurance can be costly, but then again a claim from someone injured during a meeting could be even more costly!