Victoria’s first Relationship Declaration Register was launched at the beginning of April with little fanfare from the mainstream media.
The register has been established by the City of Melbourne for couples wishing to declare their union outside the constraints of a traditional marriage.
While the register won’t confer legal rights in the way traditional marriage does, it may be used to demonstrate the existence of a de facto relationship in relation to the Property Laws Act 1958, the Administration and Probate Act 1958 and other legislation involving domestic partnerships.
Deputy Lord Mayor Gary Singer said the city council’s relationship register was a reflection of wider public sentiment,
“While local government many not have the power to enact law, we do have the power to enact change. We are in the best position to read public sentiment because we work so closely with the community we serve,” Singer said. “The majority sentiment is that, now is the time for change.”
The two-week community consultation period on the policy and guidelines generated considerable interest with more than 1,000 comments received.
Of these 768 were in support and 242 were opposed. Twenty-two responses have also been received expressing interest in registering a relationship.
“While the City of Melbourne has taken the lead on this issue, we will continue to encourage the state and federal governments to take action in ensuring a legitimate, respected and recognised way for couples of both same and mixed sex to formally declare their union,” chairman of the city council’s environment committee, Fraser Brindley said.