Protecting freedom of religion in Australia

Media release
14 Dec 2017
Prime Minister

Australia is the most successful multicultural society in the world. Right at the heart of our success as a free society is freedom of religion. It is a fundamental national value, recognised in the Constitution.

Last month, the Government announced an expert panel to examine whether Australian law adequately protects religious freedom, to be chaired by the Hon Philip Ruddock. 

Today, I am pleased to share the terms of reference for the Expert Panel to Examine Religious Freedom in Australia. In undertaking its Review the Panel will:

  • consider the intersections between the enjoyment of the freedom of religion and other human rights;
  • have regard to any previous or ongoing reviews or inquiries that it considers relevant; and
  • consult as widely as it considers necessary.

In consultation with Mr Ruddock, University of Queensland constitutional law Professor Nicholas Aroney has also been appointed to the Expert Panel.

He will join Emeritus Professor Rosalind Croucher AM, the Hon Dr Annabelle Bennett AO SC and Fr Frank Brennan SJ AO.

The Expert Panel will hold its first formal meeting in early 2018 to discuss the consultation process. I have asked the Expert Panel to report its findings by 31 March 2018.

Initial submissions from the public addressing the matters set out in the terms of reference are welcome. To provide a submission or view the full terms of reference, visit the Religious Freedom Review page.