For whatever it's worth, letters like this are not new. I recall reading the same letter back in the late 1990s. It's a recruitment tool. Legal? Yes. Creepy? Yes.
That's true Marvin. At the same time, context is everything. It is unlikely a coincidence that the Royal Commission is currently in process and its decisions will have an impact on the organization in Australia.
To my knowledge - and hailing from this part of the planet - this is a first for the Australia branch office to contact bodies of elders throughout Australia requesting such information.
And the emphasis on its secretive nature involving the nonconsensual collection of private information on the "spiritual standing" of anyone in the congregations (male or female) who has legal qualifications is surely unprecedented, no?
I doubt that branch office letters in other countries in the 1990s seeking information on "brothers" with legal qualifications were at the present level of secrecy.
Also, interesting that they have implicit provision in the criteria for seeking information on the gender of those in congregations legal qualifications - surely that is a first? Past letters would have stipulation it was seeking information on "brothers".
(New Zealand is now under the Australian branch office, but I don't know whether bodies of elders in this country are also receiving this letter).