The University of Western Australia’s Senate last night adopted a new Code for the Protection of Freedom of Speech and Academic Freedom, aligning it with the Model Code on Freedom of Speech developed by the Hon. Robert French AC, who is UWA’s Chancellor.
The new Code strengthens UWA’s commitment to freedom of speech and academic freedom, which are fundamental to the conduct of a democratic society and to the quest for intellectual, moral and material advance in the human condition.
It also aims to ensure academic freedom is treated as a ‘defining value’ by the University and that the freedom of lawful speech of staff and students of the University and visitors to the University is treated as a ‘paramount value,’ which should not be unnecessarily restricted.
The strengthened Code will apply to the University’s Senate and other decision-making bodies, officers and employees, including those involved in academic governance. It will also have some application to UWA student representative bodies.
The Code creates a new Freedom of Expression Panel, which will consider and provide advice to the Vice-Chancellor on free speech matters, such as the use of UWA facilities for speakers or events.
Vice-Chancellor Professor Amit Chakma welcomed the new UWA Code as an affirmation of the University’s commitment to academic and personal freedom on campus.
“The new UWA Code aligns us with Australia’s best practice in protecting free speech and academic freedom at universities,” Professor Chakma said.
“Our democratic society relies on open and robust discussion about matters that impact our community.”
The new UWA Code replaces the previous UWA Statement on Freedom of Expression, which was adopted in response to the recommendations of a university-wide review in 2018-2019.
The UWA Code for the Protection of Freedom of Speech and Academic Freedom is available on the UWA Policy Website.