Australia: Committee examines freedom of religion

Do Australians have the right to practice their beliefs? Can they freely speak of these beliefs and organise and associate with others who share the same faith?  Does freedom of religion and belief need greater protection under the law? Or, are some beliefs and practices not acceptable in Australian society today?

These are some of the questions being examined by the current inquiry into the status of the human right to freedom of religion or belief which will hold hearings in Melbourne on Monday 30 April and Sydney on 2 May 2018.

Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Human Rights Sub-Committee Chair, Mr Kevin Andrews MP, says the hearings will focus on the protection of the right to freedom or belief in Australia.

“The majority of submissions to the inquiry to date have overwhelmingly expressed the concern that religious freedom or freedom of belief are being challenged by the emphasis placed on other human rights,” Mr Andrews said. 

“Whether the human right to religion or belief needs further protections, and what form additional protections might take are matters being considered by the Sub-Committee.”

The Sub-Committee will hear evidence from religious bodies and organisations, human rights and ethnic groups, civil rights organisations and think tanks who have an interest in the status of the freedom of religion or belief in Australia as well as around the world.

The programs for the two hearings can be found on the inquiry website.

Public hearing details:

Date: Monday 30 April 2018

Time: 9.15am to 4.00pm


Legislative Council Committee Room

Parliament of Victoria

Spring Street, East Melbourne


Date: Wednesday 2 May 2018

Time: 8.30am to 5.00pm


Sydney Masonic Centre (SMC)

Northcott Room

Conference and Function Centre

66 Goulbum Street

Sydney NSW 2000

These hearings will be streamed live at

Media enquiries:
Mr Kevin Andrews MP (Menzies, Victoria), Chair of the Human Rights Sub-Committee of the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade

Contact: Cristy Elliott on (03) 9848 9900 or mobile: 0422 291 454.

For background: 
Committee Secretariat, Phone (02) 6277 2313,  Email


Inquiry into the status of the human right to freedom of religion or belief (Parliament of Australia)

Religious Freedom Review (Parliament of Australia)