Free speech at work: Folau, Banerji and beyond?

Date & time

6pm Sunday 1 March – 4.30pm Thursday 31 December 2020


The Australian National University, Canberra. Futher information will be made available closer to the event. 


Anne Kelly
+61 2 6125 0454
60th Anniversary Celebrations
  • UPDATEThe Australian National University has decided to cancel public events and social gatherings to minimise the risk of the transmission of COVID-19 among our community and more widely. As a precautionary measure and based upon the advice from our expert panel, we will cancel all public and social events from Monday 16 March until the end of semester one, Saturday 20 June. This is a precautionary measure that we know will be disappointing for many, but our aim is to reduce opportunities for the virus to spread by limiting activity on campus without disrupting our essential teaching and research activities. Cancellation and postponement will extend to all discretionary events including ticketed and non-ticketed public events, public lectures and concerts. More information about event cancellations can be found here.


This event will take place as part of the 2020 ACT Law Week.
Up to 5 CPD points are available


Free speech at work: Folau, Banerji and beyond?

The ability of employees to speak freely, both in public and private sector contexts, is increasingly being challenged. In 2019, the High Court of Australia endorsed the validity of the Department of Immigration’s termination of a public servant for her anonymous tweets. Until a recent settlement, the Federal Circuit Court was hearing Israel Folau’s challenge to his dismissal by Rugby Australia over controversial social media posts. These cases give rise to complex and often unsettled legal questions, at the intersection of employment law, constitutional law and anti-discrimination law. As the distinction between at-work and off-duty continues to blur in modern workplaces, it is unlikely these challenges will fade.

Where should the lines be drawn? Is it possible to reconcile employees' speech rights with the interests of employers? This timely and innovative conference will consider these issues from practical, theoretical, policy and comparative perspectives. 


Panel Discussion - FREE EVENT

As a precursor to our one-day conference, ANU Law will host a public panel discussion on the topic of free speech in the work place followed by a networking reception.

Following an opening keynote address by the Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG, Former Justice of the High Court of Australia, join Josh Bornstein, Maurice Blackburn; Kate Eastman SC, New Chambers; Joydeep Hor, People + Culture Strategies; and Emeritus Professor Rosalind Croucher AM, Australian Human Rights Commission as they debate this topical issue. Moderated by Damien Carrick, ABC Radio National, this event will be recorded for broadcast on ABC's Law Report.



Conference - PAID EVENT

This event will kick off with a session exploring the context surrounding the vexing issue of workplace-related speech. Throughout the morning, our expert panels will delve into the constitutional and practical implications of recent court judgments for both the public and private sectors. After lunch, our international speakers will provide insight into how different jurisdictions have grappled with free speech issues and the outcomes of these cases. Our final panel of the day will look to the future and reflect on how parliament, government, employers and the judiciary might seek to resolve the tension between employer interests and employee speech.

Our expert speakers include

A full list of speakers and session content will be released shortly.



Law Week is organised by the ACT Law Society, and is proudly sponsored by Lawcover.
Law Week 2020 is raising funds for ACT Wildlife.

Free speech at work: Folau, Banerji and beyond?


Updated:  10 August 2015/Responsible Officer:  College General Manager, ANU College of Law/Page Contact:  Law Marketing Team