Religious Freedoms Conference: The scope and limits of religious freedom in Australia

15 March 2013

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About the conference:

Until recently, religious freedom was taken for granted in Australia as being not only a fundamental human right, but also an essential component of a successful multicultural society. The role of government in Australia has been understood to be neutral between religions and as between faith-based and secular moral codes or values. However, times are changing, and governments are being urged by some to reduce the freedom that faith-based organisations have previously enjoyed where there is a clash with other rights or interests.

This one-day conference will explore the way in which issues of freedom of religion are now emerging as contested matters in western democracies, in particular the United States, Britain and Australia. Speakers will present ideas on these issues from a variety of perspectives.

Special guest speaker:

Professor Robin Fretwell Wilson is a Professor of Law at Washington & Lee University School of Law. A specialist in Family Law and Health Law, her research and teaching interests also include Insurance and Biomedical Ethics. Professor Wilson is the editor of four volumes: Health Law and Bioethics: Cases in Context (with Sandra Johnson, Joan Krause and Richard Savor, 2009); Same-Sex Marriage and Religious Liberty: Emerging Conflicts (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2008) (with Douglas Laycock and Anthony A. Picarello); Reconceiving the Family: Critique on the American Law Institute's Principles of the Law of Family Dissolution (Cambridge University Press, 2006); and the Handbook of Children, Culture & Violence (Sage Publications, 2006) (with Nancy Dowd & Dorothy G. Singer).

Professor Wilson's work has been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, National Public Radio's All Things Considered, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, U.S. News and World Report, ABA Journal, the Chronicle of Higher Education, Chicago Tribune, CNN Headline News, Good Morning America, ABC News, CBS News, the Philadelphia Inquirer, and Essence Magazine among others. Professor Wilson is the past Chair of the Section on Family and Juvenile Law of the Association of American Law Schools (AALS) and of the AALS' Section on Law, Medicine & Healthcare. Professor Wilson has presented her research in China, Israel, Qatar, the Netherlands, Italy, England, Wales, Poland, Serbia, Japan, Canada, Norway, Denmark, Australia, New Zealand, and France, as well as throughout the United States.


9.00am -9.30am
Registration and welcome

The accommodation of religious liberty in the USA
Robin Fretwell Wilson, Washington & Lee University School of Law

Religious freedom and the privatisation of religion
Dr Ryan Messmore, Campion College Sydney

Morning tea

Issues concerning religious liberty in Britain
Andrea Williams, Christian Concern UK

Religious Freedom in Multicultural States - The experience of Muslim communities
Dr Ghena Krayem, Sydney Law School


The scope and limits of religious freedom under the Australian Constitution

Professor Nick Aroney, University of Queensland

2.30pm - 3.15pm
Anti-Discrimination and Freedom of Religious: does the 2012 Human Rights and Anti-discrimination Bill achieve the right balance?
Professor Gillian Triggs, Australian Human Rights Commission

Afternoon tea

3.35pm - 4.20pm
Exceptional religious freedom
Professor Patrick Parkinson, Sydney Law School

4.20pm - 4.45pm
Discussion and close

Lawyers/barristers: attendance at this seminar is equal to6 MCLE/CPD units.

This conference is being presented in partnership with Freedom 4 Faith.

Time: 9.30am - 5.00pm

Location: Sydney Law School, Building F10, Eastern Avenue, University of Sydney

Cost: Early bird $60 (extended to Feb 8); Full fee $70; SLS Alumni $56; Students $30 (GST Inclusive)

Contact: PLaCE Coordinator

Phone: (02) 9351 0323

Email: 340a0f633024115b3a21133c0f570c4a29415233307b2d00