Six unis not “aligned” with government-supported free speech code

Minister Tehan urges them “to take action”

Sally Walker’s Review of university implementation of the government’s campus free-speech code was released last night. Professor Walker’s review, commissioned by Education Minister Dan Tehan, examined how university free-speech policies are now aligned with recommendations of Robert French’s review.

Professor Walker also recommended university governing bodies be required to publish a statement demonstrating their institutions alignment with the French code. Mr Tehan endorsed this last night, saying that, “if agreed, the statement would be made annually and published in the university’s annual report.”

In his statement Mr Tehan reported Professor Walker found, “nine universities had policies that were fully aligned with the French Model Code, 14 universities were mostly aligned, four were partly aligned and six had policies that were not aligned.”

The nine in-line are, Australian Catholic U, La Trobe U, RMIT, Torrens U, the universities of Newcastle, Queensland and the Sunshine Coast, Uni Sydney and UWA.

Professor Walker cites La Trobe U, Uni Sydney and RMIT as “exemplars of particularly good practice”

The six reported as not-aligned are, Federation U, James Cook U, Monash U, UNSW, UTS and Uni SA.

““Universities have until the end of the year to honour their commitment to align their policies with the French Model Code and I strongly urge those universities that have not already done so to take action,” Mr Tehan said.

Legislation amending the two higher education acts to include the French Review is before the parliament. “The Australian government is strongly committed to supporting academic freedom and freedom of speech in Australian universities. Our universities are critical institutions where ideas are debated and challenged. We must ensure they are places that protect all free speech, even where what is being said may be unpopular or challenging,” Mr Tehan said in his second reading speech in the Reps.