Fr Frank Brennan

Adjunct Professor

Frank Brennan is a Jesuit priest and Rector of Newman College at the University of Melbourne.

He is a Distinguished Fellow of the PM Glynn Institute at Australian Catholic University, an Adjunct Professor at the Thomas More Law School at ACU and research professor at the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture.

He chaired the National Human Rights Consultation for the Rudd Government and was a member of the Turnbull Government’s expert panel which conducted the Religious Freedom Review.  The Morrison Government has appointed him to the Voice Co-Design Senior Advisory Group to help guide the Co-Design process to develop options for an Indigenous voice to government.

His recent books include:

  • The 2015 Gasson Lectures: Maintaining a Convinced and Pondered Trust
  • No Small Change: The Road to Recognition for Indigenous Australia
  • Amplifying That Still, Small Voice
  • The People’s Quest for Leadership in Church and State
  • Observations on the Pell Proceedings

An Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for services to Aboriginal Australians, particularly as an advocate in the areas of law, social justice and reconciliation, he was the recipient of the Migration Institute of Australia’s 2013 Distinguished Service to Immigration Award and of the 2015 Eureka Democracy Award in recognition of his endeavours which have contributed to strengthening democratic traditions in Australia.  He is also a recipient of the Humanitarian Overseas Service Medal for his work in Timor Leste when Director of the local Jesuit Refugee Service, and a recipient of the Australian Centenary Medal for service with refugees and human rights work in the Asia Pacific Region.

He has been awarded honorary doctorates by the University of New South Wales and the Queensland University of Technology.

In 1994, the National Australia Day Council name him an Australian Achiever.  When launching Frank’s book Acting on Conscience on the place of religion in Australian politics and law, Kevin Rudd described Frank as ‘an ethical burr in the nation’s saddle’. Earlier during the 1998 Wik debate, Paul Keating labelled him ‘the meddling priest’. The National Trust has classified him as a Living National Treasure.

Frank serves on the boards of Jesuit Social Services and the National Apology Foundation for Indigenous Australians and on the Advisory Council of the Global Foundation. His research interests include conscience and faith, human rights and the rule of law, and the rights of Indigenous peoples and asylum seekers.

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