Dr Renae Barker
Started at UWA: 2013
Fighting for religious freedoms
The opportunity to advocate for religious minorities who often have little political power is what I love most about what I do.Dr Renae Barker
Dr Renae Barker is a legal academic and senior lecturer at the UWA Law School. Her speciality is the interaction between law and religion, spanning freedom of religion in the Australian Constitution and international law, to tax exemptions for religious organisations, and to religious schools and when and where people can pray.
Dr Barker’s current research focus is on the interaction between the law, religion and children, building on her previous work on vulnerable religious groups including Muslim women. She stresses that children are a particularly vulnerable group as they have no political power and are often subject to different religious controls.
She proposes that the place of religion in Australia, especially in relation to children, is up for debate. “Children cannot advocate for themselves, it is therefore important that academics contribute to the debate providing information about the law and how that impacts on children’s rights.”
As the daughter of an Anglican priest, Dr Barker has been involved in church leadership roles for as long as she can remember. During her Law studies at Murdoch University, Dr Barker began to see a strong link between her studies and religion. This led her to undertake an Honours thesis on the Australian legal definition of religion. On completing her law degree, Dr Barker started to practice law at a small firm in Bunbury. Shortly after commencing her role, she decided to return to her first passion – the intersection of law and religion. Dr Barker has been working in this space ever since; a vast, complex and eclectic field growing in relevance.
Dr Barker has a long history with UWA. She started her Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) at UWA in 2009 and commenced as a casual tutor in 2011. From 2013 she was employed as a full-time staff member at UWA.
- Bachelor of Laws (LLB) (Honours), Murdoch University
- Bachelor of Economics (BEcon), Murdoch University
- Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), The University of Western Australia
- Writing Fellow at Brigham Young University International Centre for Law and Religion Studies
- Advocate for the Anglican Diocese of Bunbury
- Honorary Research Fellow at the Centre for Muslim States and Societies, UWA
The University of Western Australia Faculty Excellence in Teaching Award – Programs That Enhance Student Learning, 2016
The University of Western Australia Faculty Excellence in Teaching Award, 2014
The University of Western Australia Faculty Excellence in Teaching Award (Tutor), 2011
Publication of State and Religion: The Australian Story (Routledge, 2018)
Participation in the Young Scholars Fellowship on Religion and the Rule of Law hosted by Brigham Young University International Centre for Law and Religion Studies in Oxford in 2019
You can always learn something, teaching is a two-way street. While it is my job to pass on knowledge to students, their questions and ideas also teach me in return. Many of my research projects began with a question asked in class.Dr Renae Barker
Religious freedom for religious minorities
A political debate surrounding the federal government's proposed religious freedom law, has raged for the past few days.Read more
Should school uniforms be compulsory?
Whether schools should mandate a uniform is a controversial issue.Read more
Teachers not preachers
The fight for religious freedoms has hit Australian classrooms as calls mount to ban church-based instruction in all state schools.Read more