Religious Freedom Review

On 22 November 2017, the Prime Minister, the Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP, announced the appointment of an Expert Panel to examine whether Australian law adequately protects the human right to freedom of religion.

On 18 May 2018, the Panel delivered its Report to the Prime Minister. The statement the Panel made after submitting its report is available here.

The Panel would like to thank the thousands of Australians who took the opportunity to have their say on this important issue. The Panel notes that the release of the Report is a matter for the Prime Minister, and that it is unable to comment on its content until it has been released.

The Panel has now completed its work and has formally ceased to exist.


The Panel received submissions on the matters contained in its Terms of Reference from 14 December 2017 to 14 February 2018. The Panel also accepted a small number of submissions received after 14 February 2018.  The Panel received more than 15,500 submissions. Published submissions can be found here.


The Prime Minister announced the Terms of Reference for the Review on 14 December 2017. In undertaking its Review, the Prime Minister instructed the Panel to:

  • 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
  • consult as widely as it considers necessary

The Expert Panel comprised:

  • the Hon Philip Ruddock (chair)
  • Emeritus Professor Rosalind Croucher AM
  • the Hon Dr Annabelle Bennett AO SC
  • Father Frank Brennan SJ AO
  • Professor Dr Nicholas Aroney

A full copy of the Terms of Reference is available online.

The Panel was supported by a Secretariat within the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.


The Panel held face-to-face consultations with a wide range of stakeholders with different viewpoints on the topic of religious freedom. The meetings occurred during February and March 2018 as follows:

  • 5 & 6 February, 26 March: Canberra
  • 12 & 13 February: Perth
  • 14 & 15 February, 8-9 March, 23 March: Sydney
  • 19 February: Hobart
  • 20 & 21 February: Melbourne
  • 23 February, 2 March: Western Sydney
  • 26 February: Brisbane
  • 27 February: Adelaide
  • 5 & 6 March: Darwin