ACU backs freedom of speech code

ACU vice-chancellor Greg Craven (ACU)

Australian Catholic University has endorsed a proposed freedom of speech code, saying it “fundamentally supported freedom of expression and academic inquiry”. Source: The Australian.

The ACU is the third university to explicitly back former chief justice Robert French’s model code for freedom of speech since federal Education Minister Dan Tehan called on universities last weekend to adopt it.

ACU vice-chancellor Greg Craven said yesterday his university’s general counsel would produce a draft code for consideration by its senate, ACU’s governing body, which would be modelled closely on the French code. “The code will serve as a touchstone document that provides members of the university community with certainty and clarity around freedom of speech,” Professor Craven said.

“Of course, freedom of speech is never limitless. This is precisely the role of a well-drafted principles based code – to guarantee free expression, regardless of whether it is popular, while also setting out the necessary framework for it to thrive.”

ACU chancellor and former NSW premier John Fahey said the university senate would consider the code’s relationship to its existing regulations.

“I anticipate that, if supported, the implementation of the code will require a wholesale review of all university statutes and policies that may interact with the code,” he said.

Since Mr Tehan’s response to the French report at the weekend, Western Sydney University vice-chancellor Barney Glover said the code had “merit and was worthy of consideration” and would be considered by WSU’s governing body.

University of Sydney vice-chancellor Michael Spence told The Sydney Morning Herald that the French code was “a terrific thing, and the values it expresses are exactly the values we fight for”.

This week the University of Melbourne also released its first freedom-of-speech policy that it said “aligned with the principles proposed by Robert French”.


Australian Catholic University backs French campus code (The Australian)


High-level group of university chancellors tweaking French's free speech code (The Age

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