The Australian Human Rights Commission, in association with the Australian Multicultural Foundation, RMIT University and Monash University, has conducted a major research and consultation project on Freedom of Religion and Belief in the 21st Century.
In July 2005 the Council of Australian Governments decided that there should be a National Action Plan to Build Social Cohesion, Harmony and Security. Under the National Action Plan which Ministers endorsed in 2006, the Australian Human Rights Commission was funded to undertake a range of projects. Funding of human rights projects through the National Action Plan reflected an understanding by Australian governments that a free and tolerant society, which respects, protects and ensures the human rights of its diverse people will be a more resilient and cohesive society.
One of the projects which the Australian Human Rights Commission was funded to undertake has been an extensive project of community consultation and research on Freedom of Religion and Belief in the 21st Century.
We have worked with faith communities and interfaith and civil society organisations, to record their concerns and gather ideas. Consultations with heads of faith, governments and NGO’s took place from mid-2008 to mid-2009. 210 senior representatives were consulted in 23 group consultations and 30 interviews.
This research project builds on issues raised in
- the Commission’s 1998 report, Freedom of Religion and Belief; and
- the 2004 report ‘Cultural Diversity and Safeguarding Australia’, produced by the Australian Multicultural Foundation.
The Freedom of Religion and Belief project consists of :
- Consultation with Australian heads of faith
- Consultation with national and state/ territory governments and NGOs
- Consultation with the Australian public via a national call for submissions
- A series of commissioned papers related to faith and society
- The report to the Commission by the Australian Multicultural Foundation on project research and consultations was released on 21 March 2011
- Read the report launch speech by Commissioner Graeme Innes AM
In addition to a report to the Commission summing up issues raised in consultations, submissions and research, a series of expert papers on specific issues released with the report, a series of further papers are being released as they are finalised for publication.
Papers now available
These papers by independent experts are being released to contribute to public discussion. Views expressed are the views of the authors.
- The law, judiciary and religion (MS Word): Associate Professor Carolyn Evans (University of Melbourne); also available in PDF format
Freedom of Religion and Belief and Family Law (MS Word): The Hon.Justice Mushin (Family Court of Australia) and Maria Dimopoulos; also available in PDF format
- Freedom of religion and belief in a secular society (MS Word): Dr Nicholas Tonti-Filippini (Australian Catholic University); also available in PDF format
- Demographic analysis of submissions (MS Word): Professor Kevin Dunn (University of Western Sydney); also available in PDF format
- Freedom of religion, belief and gender: a Muslim perspective (MS Word): Ghena Krayem; also available in PDF format
- Freedom of religion, gender and belief: a Catholic perspective (MS Word): Sister Trish Madigan; also available in PDF format; see also Bibliography (MS Word), also available in PDF format
- Freedom of religion and belief and physical and mental wellbeing – VicHealth
- Jewish Women and Religious Freedom in Australia (MS Word): Melinda Jones and Peta Jones-Pallach; also available in PDF format
- Indigenous spiritual expression and freedom of religion and belief (MS Word 2010) – Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies - also available in PDF format
- Religion and the arts – Professor Amareswar Galla and Conrad Gersevitch (MS Word) - also available in PDF format
- Freedom of religion and belief and global peace – Professor Kevin Clements (University of Otago)
- Inter-faith dialogue as a means of peace-building and public safety – Anna Halafoff (Monash University)
Views expressed in submissions are the responsibility of their authors. Note that not all submissions made are available on line. Some submissions were marked confidential. In addition, the Commission did not have capacity to publish all hard copy submissions received.
For further context to the submissions see also