[Note: The Psychological Practices Act was passed in 1965, not 1975.]
Mrs. Elaine Allen, a former Sunday School teacher, has become Victoria's first registered Minister of the Church of Scientology.
The State Government has relaxed its stand on the movement, outlawed 12 years ago after an inquiry described it as perverted, debased, ill-founded and harmful.
The Chief Secretary, Mr. Dickie, last night confirmed that Mrs. Allen, of Balwyn, had been recognised as a minister of religion.
But he said the Psychological Practices Act of 1965, under which the movement was outlawed, still operated.
"We have no reason to prevent them from carrying out marriages because they are recognised to do so under Commonwealth law," Mr. Dickie said.
"But we certainly would not tolerate the practices which were part of their cult before 1964.
"She is recognised as a minister of religion but whether we recognise scientology as a religion is entirely another thing."
The State Registrar of Ministers for Religion, Mr. J. M. Ryder, has told Mrs. Allen, a 40-year-old mother of four, her registered number is V16798. Her official denomination is the Church of Scientology Incorporated.
Mrs. Allen said last night her registration meant the Government had recognised Scientology as a religion.
"This has been a long time coming and it's a great victory for us," she said.
She said there had been no prosecutions under the 1965 Act and the Federal Government had recognised scientology as a denomination in 1973.
The practice of scientology was banned by the act after a 160-day board of inquiry which yielded four million words of evidence and cost the State $75,000.
Mr. K. V. Anderson, QC, now a judge, found that scientology was evil, a danger to the mental health of the community, based on fiction and propagated by falsehood.
Scientologists say the idea behind scientology, or dianetics, is improvement of communications between the individual, his fellow man and the environment. It is often referred to as "the modern science of mental health".
Mr. Dickie said the Psychological Practices Act, passed in November, 1975, did not apply to recognised ministers of religion.
"This church of scientology had sought for this woman to be registered but we have delayed action on it to see whether the Psychological Practices Act might take precedence over the Commonwealth Marriage Act, which obviously it did not," he said.
Mrs. Allen said the Government had turned a blind eye to the movement in recent years. The act had been passed in "a feeling of hysteria".
She said there had been major changes to the church's management.
Services are held every Sunday at 3 pm in a large house in Inkerman Road, Caulfield. About 10 to 15 people usually attend.
[photo: Elaine Allen holding up Scientology cross around her neck] Mrs Allen, pictured in front of the large Caulfield house where services are held every Sunday.