Freedom18 Conference

Wednesday 23 May 2018 from 8am to 3.30pm // NSW Parliament House, Strangers Function Room, 6 Macquarie Street, Sydney NSW 2000

Freedom18 – The Limits of Religious Freedom

Join with lawyers, politicians, academics and faith leaders at the NSW Parliament for Freedom18. 

Our conference theme is ‘the limits of religious freedom’. The debates around marriage highlighted tensions between claims of religious freedom and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation - should religious freedom be curtailed by other claims to dignity and rights? How does freedom relate to security in our secular liberal democracy? Do we live in over-regulated times that are going too far in constraining civic freedoms? 

Freedom18 is a unique opportunity to network with some of Australia’s leading thinkers and practitioners. In the contested intersection of culture, public theology, and law, we want to offer a platform for the best possible conversations. 

So join with us on May 23 at NSW Parliament House.

As parliament is sitting, the venue is constrained, and we expect to sell out. So please book early to avoid disappointment. 

We will begin at 8am with a networking breakfast, lunch will be provided, and we will finish by 3.30pm. 


Throughout the day you will hear from prominent speakers including:

The Hon. John Anderson AO - former Deputy Prime Minister of Australia
Sen. the Hon. Jacinta Collins - Senator for Victoria
Emeritus Prof. Rosalind Croucher AM - President of the Human Rights Commission and Panel Member of the Religious Freedom Inquiry
Prof. Patrick Parkinson AM - Professor of Law at the University of Sydney
Dr. Joel Harrison - Senior Lecturer at Macquarie University Law School
Dr. Alex Deagon - Lecturer in the Faculty of Law, Queensland University of Technology, who will be launching his book ‘From Violence to Peace’

Don’t miss out! Clear your diary for Wednesday 23 May and secure your place now.

I look forward to seeing you.

Michael Kellahan | Executive Director | Freedom for Faith



The Hon. John Anderson AO

The Hon. John Anderson began his political career in 1989 and served as the Deputy Prime Minister of Australia and Leader of the rural-based National Party of Australia from July 1999 to July 2005.

John is a well-known politician of deep Christian conviction and during his political career remained a strong advocate for society’s core institutions, including family life and marriage as the cornerstone of society. John was regarded by his political peers as a man with deep integrity and a person of steadfast character.

John retired from mainstream political life in 2005 and alongside his wife Julia now continues farming and grazing on their property in North Western NSW.

John is strongly committed to Christian mission and serves as the Board Chair of Overseas Council Australia.

Senator the Hon. Jacinta Collins

A Victorian Labour Senator for more than 20 years, Senator Collins has been a leading campaigner on social and cultural issues including the stem cell debate, euthanasia and religious freedom.

In 2002, Senator Collins led the debate on the Prohibition of Human Cloning Bill and Research Involving Human Embryos Bill.

She successfully moved an amendment to ensure that an embryo’s suitability is determined only on its biological fitness for implantation, not on other factors such as gender.  She also forced Prime Minister John Howard to back down on allowing the importation of embryonic stem cells.

Senator Collins’ key arguments against the Euthanasia Laws Bill 1996 were that euthanasia cannot be safely legalised; that such laws pose profound risks for ill and vulnerable people and the concept of the slippery slope.

Senator Collins supports the Ruddock review and last year spoke about the importance of exemptions that currently apply to religious organisations.

Professor Rosalind Croucher AM

Emeritus Professor Rosalind Croucher AM was appointed as President of the Australian Human Rights Commission in July 2017, after seven and a half years as President of the Australian Law Reform Commission.

In 2014 she was acknowledged for her contributions to public policy as one of Australia’s ‘100 Women of Influence’ and was awarded the Australian Women Lawyer’s award.

In the Australia Day Honours list, 2015, Professor Croucher was made a Member of the Order of Australia and in in 2016 Macquarie University conferred on her the title of Emeritus Professor.

Professor Patrick Parkinson AM

Patrick Parkinson is a professor of law at the University of Sydney. He was President of the International Society of Family Law from 2011-2014. He served from 2004-2007 as Chairperson of the Family Law Council, an advisory body to the Australian Attorney-General, and also chaired a review of the Child Support Scheme in 2004-05 which led to the enactment of major changes to the child support system.

His books include Australian Family Law in Context (6th ed, 2015), Tradition and Change in Australian Law (5th ed, 2013), Family Law and the Indissolubility of Parenthood (2011), The Voice of a Child in Family Law Disputes (with Judy Cashmore, 2008), Child Sexual Abuse and the Churches (2nd ed, 2003) and Principles of Equity (editor, 2nd ed., 2003).

He has also written on issues of religious freedom.

Dr. Joel Harrison

Dr Joel Harrison is currently a Senior Lecturer at Macquarie Law School, Macquarie University, Sydney. His scholarship focuses on law and religion, human rights, and constitutional law.

Joel holds a BA/LLB (Hons) from the University of Auckland. He completed his Masters and Doctorate at Magdalen College, University of Oxford as a Woolf Fisher Scholar (NZ).  Prior to graduate studies, he clerked for Sir Grant Hammond of the Court of Appeal of New Zealand and worked as a Legal and Policy Advisor at the New Zealand Law Commission. He has taught at Oxford as a Graduate Teaching Assistant in Public Law, and from 2012 till 2014 he was an Associate-in-Law (Lecturer and Post-Doctoral Researcher) at Columbia Law School, New York.

Dr. Alex Deagon

Dr. Alex Deagon is Lecturer in the Faculty of Law, Queensland University of Technology, Australia, and a committed Christian.  His research focuses on jurisprudence, law and theology, and freedom of religion.  His PhD, which argued for a theological foundation of law through John Milbank, was awarded without alteration and received the Chancellor’s Medal.  The PhD was subsequently published as a book in 2017: From Violence to Peace: Theology, Law and Community with Hart Publishing. 

Alex has also been published in Law, Culture and the Humanities, the Griffith Law Review and the International Journal of Philosophy and Theology, with articles recently accepted for publication in the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy and the Federal Law Review. 

Alex was extensively cited in the recent Interim Report on the Legal Foundations of Religious Freedom in Australia by the Commonwealth Parliament Human Rights Sub-Committee. 

He teaches in Theories of Law, Constitutional Law, and Evidence.




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