A conference will be held on Saturday 6th April 2019 to consider the future of religious freedom in Australia following the report of the Religious Freedom Review, led by former Attorney-General Philip Ruddock. The Conference is jointly organised by the Australian Law Journal and the TC Beirne School of Law at the University of Queensland, and will be held at UQ in Brisbane. Selected papers from the conference will be published in a special issue of the ALJ later in 2019.

The Ruddock Panel was asked to examine and report on whether Australian law (Commonwealth, State and Territory) adequately protects the human right to freedom of religion. The Conference will examine the adequacy of the Panel’s response to its Terms of Reference, the recommendations it made, the controversies which followed the leaked release of its recommendations, the Government’s formal response and directions for the future.

Possible topics for the conference include:
• Does Australian law and practice adequately comply with Australia’s obligations under article 18 of the ICCPR?
• At what point do legal obligations to act contrary to conscience contravene the absolute right enshrined in article 18 of the ICCPR? Do any Australian laws contravene this right?
• What are the implications of the Siracusa principles for the assessment of Australian law in relation to justified interferences with freedom of religion?
• Is there a case for a stand-alone Religious Freedom Act? Is it desirable to legislate for religious freedom in the absence of a broader charter of rights in Australia?
• Why is the relationship between anti-discrimination principles and freedom of religion so controversial in western democracies?
• How are rights to non-discrimination and freedom of religion and conscience best accommodated?
• How best can the law respect and protect the rights of Australian parents to make choices in relation to the moral and religious education of their children in state schools in accordance with Article 18.4 of the ICCPR?
• What is the “religious ethos” of an organisation, and what legal rights do religious organisations need to preserve their ethos?

Offers of papers should provide an abstract of 300-700 words and be sent to [email protected] by COB on February 1st 2019. Registration details to follow: contact [email protected].


Professor Patrick Parkinson AM                                        The Hon Justice François Kunc

Dean of Law, UQ                                                                    Editor, Australian Law Journal