17th to 20th July 2023 – QT Hotel Canberra

We are looking forward to providing you with a motivational and inspiring conference to Know Your Value…..Appreciate Your Worth

The Canberra Conference team has put together an empowering, professional and educational conference, a time for all of us to come together to learn, share and celebrate.  The educational components of the conference will be held on Tuesday 18th and Wednesday 19th July.  There will of course be a variety of social activities including a cocktail welcome reception on Monday 17th July, a social event on  Tuesday evening, a 50th Anniversary Gala Dinner on Wednesday Evening and a relaxing and fun social day on Thursday 20th July.  See further details below.

The AFCC Conference is open to all Celebrants in Australia, and we encourage all who wish to connect, learn and celebrate to attend this special celebration.

If you have any questions please reach out to the conference team at conference@afcc.com.au


50th Anniversary Celebration

On the 19th July 1973, Lois D’Arcy was the very first independent Celebrant authorised to perform marriages. This makes 2023 extra special and we look forward to celebrating this milestone in our profession. On Wednesday 19th July the Conference Gala Dinner will be a Golden Celebration.


Conference Details


Full Conference 2 Day registration – Non AFCC Member Rate – $525 (Includes Welcome Reception)

Welcome Reception Only – $65

50th Anniversary Gala Dinner – $120 per person

Social Day – $85 per person

To register your interest please click HERE




Key Note & Main Speakers

We have a wonderful conference planned with some amazing speakers. Our conference keynote speakers will be Sam Bloom “Penguin Bloom” and Catherine McGregor AM.

Sam Bloom’s story is one of inspiration, resilience and strength, as told in her bestselling book “Penguin Bloom” which is now a major motion picture starring Naomi Watts. Sam is also a popular motivational speaker and tells the story of how she overcame the darkest days of her life with the help of a little magpie friend named Penguin.

Sam is a traveller, an adventurer and a lover of life, a woman who stayed active in every way possible with her three sons and husband. Sam’s life was turned upside down when an old balcony railing gave way to her when she was travelling in Thailand, leaving Sam completely paralysed from the waist down.  Sam and her husband Cameron will share their inspirational story with us.

Catherine McGregor removed from Australian of the Year roll of honour - ABC NewsCate McGregor on leaving Malcolm McGregor behind and becoming a woman

Catherine McGregor is a former writer and media presenter. She has covered politics  and military affairs and cricket for every major media outlet in Australia. In 2021 she hosted her own television program The McGregor Angle. She is a published author.

She is a graduate of the Royal Military College Duntroon where she was awarded the CEW Bean prize for military history. She undertook postgraduate study in Military History at Oxford University as a Visiting Fellow in its Changing Character of War Programme.

Catherine deployed on operations with the Australian Army three times and in 2012 was awarded the Order of Australia for distinguished service to the Australian Army. She also served as speech writer to every Chief of the Army from 2000-2014. She also wrote speeches for Bob Carr and Kim Beazley. Her life story was the subject of a play named Still Point Turning which was staged by the Sydney Theatre Company in 2018.


Opening Ceremony

We are so thrilled that Attorney General Hon Mark Dreyfus will be in attendance to opening the 2023 conference and will also be joining senior staff to celebrate at the 50th Anniversary Gala Dinner.

Panel Discussion

Rosa Pezzella, Registrar of Marriage Celebrants – Marriage Law and Celebrants Section (Attorney-General’s Department) will be in attendance and joined by Samantha Byng Assistant Secretary of Family Safety Branch and Rebecca Mills Acting Assistant Secretary of Family Law Branch. President Anthony Burke will be facilitating the Q & A panel with questions which we will source from delegates leading into the conference.


Other Speakers

In 2023 we have decided to do the conference a little differently. In years gone by we have broken up into smaller groups and you have selected a session you would like to attend. In 2023, you will be able to listen to and enjoy all speakers.

Don’t worry, we also have lots of fun planned to ensure that your legs don’t go to sleep.


Luke Kennedy 

Luke uses his “Breathtaking” story to inspire deep, lasting change, and self-awareness, for a wide range of audiences, from primary schools, high schools, businesses, events, and even prisons.

​For eight years of his life, Luke was an obese alcoholic, self-confessed bully and thug.

On the outside, he looked strong and confident, even happy at times, but on the inside his thoughts would haunt him. He was incredibly scared, depressed, anxious, paranoid,


Linda Hailey

Linda Hailey is one of Australia’s leading experts on small business. As a consultant, speaker and author, she passionately believes it’s time we took the mystery (and megabucks) out of marketing and strategic planning for small business.

Her extensive career in advertising and marketing started with a press advertising cadetship at Myer Melbourne followed by a switch of media to radio in Western Australia. On moving to Sydney she joined radio station 2WS where she spent 8 years as Creative Director and Marketing Manager.

Starting her own consultancy in August 1990, Linda pioneered a range of simple diagnostic exercises that could be easily applied to any small business. She works with a wide range of businesses to develop common-sense customer service and marketing strategies that build reputations and business revenue.


Robert Tickner 

Robert Tickner grew up and attended high school in Forster and Taree on the north coast of NSW before attending the University of Sydney and graduating in law and economics. He initially worked as a lecturer at the NSW Institute of Technology (later UTS) from 1974 to 1979, then as principal solicitor for the NSW Aboriginal Legal Service from 1979 to 1984 when he was elected as a member of the House of Representatives.

He subsequently served as Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs in both the Hawke and Keating Governments from 1990-1996 and is Australia’s longest serving Minister in that portfolio.

During his time as Minister he initiated the process of reconciliation, championed the creation of the national land fund and fought for a just Native Title Act. He was also responsible for the initiation of the Stolen Generations Inquiry, with the support of then Attorney-General Michael Lavarch.


Natalie Dawes 

Natalie  is a solutions-focused storyteller, strategist and coach.  With a long international leadership career, spanning small local business to major multinational corporations and from public service to the not-for-profit sector, Natalie has always been driven to unlock the potential of individuals to empower them, their organisations and their communities to flourish. She is an award-winning business leader, a popular public speaker and a passionate leadership coach. Natalie knows the highs and lows of leadership life. After experiencing her own burnout, Natalie created Aliferous Leadership Strategies to share her knowledge, experience and ideas with as many people as possible so that they can break through their own barriers to let their leadership capabilities take flight.


Guest of Honour

We are so very lucky to have Lois D’Arcy attending the 2023 Conference as our guest of honour. Lois will participate in a panel discussion that will focus on the decades of Celebrancy, what has changed, how to know your value and appreciate your worth. The panel will be made up of experienced and new Celebrants.

On 19 July 1973, Lois became the first person who Lionel Murphy, the Attorney-General in the Whitlam Government, authorised as a Civil Marriage Celebrant “to solemnize marriages at any place in Australia”. She subsequently learnt that, late one night when alone in his office in Canberra, Lionel had typed and signed that one-page document with no covering letter, and on his way home had dropped it into a mailbox. He had done this in the face of opposition from close colleagues and advisors. Once the Media became aware of her authorisation, it made headlines in the weekend newspapers, and suddenly she was being contacted by couples wishing to be married in a civil ceremony at a place and timing of their choosing. Thus started a wonderful and fulfilling career now spanning 50 years.




Welcome Social Event – Monday 17th July

QT Canberra - Wedding Venues Canberra | Easy Weddings

A Cocktail Welcome will be held in Lucky’s Speakeasy Bar at the QT Hotel from 5.30pm to 7.30pm at no cost to delegates.  Guests are welcome and tickets are $65. You will enjoy catching up with AFCC friends, making new friends, enjoying some drinks and canapés.  A list of easily accessible local eating places will be provided to attendees who wish to head out to dinner afterwards.


Social Evening  – Tuesday 18th July

We are currently planning a relaxed social evening on the Tuesday night. It will be a time to make more connections and talk about what has inspired you throughout day 1 of the conference. Watch this space for more information.


50 Year Golden Gala Dinner – Wednesday 19th July

On the 19th July will be exactly 50 years since the very first Celebrant was authorised and we think that is something to Celebrate. The Golden Anniversary Gala Dinner will be held in the Grand Ballroom of the QT Hotel. Enjoy Pre Dinner entertainment and drinks from 6:30pm, before moving into the ballroom for a night of music, 3 course dinner, drinks package, dancing and a night to celebrate with fellow Celebrants.

Tickets for the Gala Dinner are $120 (includes pre-dinner drinks and canapés, a 3 course meal and drinks.  A cash bar will also be available. The Gala Dinner is open to all – partners, Celebrants, guests and everyone in between.


Social Day – Out & About – Thursday 20th July 

Visiting · Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament HouseAustralian War Memorial | The Saturday Paper

The social day is an opportunity for you to relax, enjoy some time and continue networking with fellow members in a relaxed and fun way. The bus will depart from the hotel at 9.30am. We will then travel to where it all started for the Celebrancy Program with a visit to Old Parliament House.

From there, we will head off to the village of Bungendore for lunch with some spare time to take a stroll around the local shops. The coach will then take us to the Contentious Character Winery for a nice afternoon of wine tasting and a bit of relaxation time.

Our final stop will be a very moving one. We will be attending the ‘Last Post’ ceremony at the Australian War Memorial.

Tickets for the Social day are $85 per person which includes lunch.

NB: If you have an afternoon flight, we will do a quick stop at the airport around 4pm if you wanted to come along for the social day but have a late flight Thursday.