The University of Western Australia

UWA Staff Profile

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Renae Barker

Dr Renae Barker

UWA Law School

Contact details
UWA Law School
The University of Western Australia (M253)
35 Stirling Highway
+61 8 6488 7053
+61 8 6488 1045
BEc LLB Murd., PhD W.Aust.
Renae Graduated from Murdoch University with a Bachelor’s degree in law with honours and Bachelor’s degree in economics. She subsequently completed her PhD at the University of Western Australia in 2014. Her thesis explored the development of the relationship between the state and religion in Australia from 1788 to modern Australia. She joined UWA as a lecture in 2013, having tutored at the university of a number of years.
Key research
Renae researches in the area of law and religion. Her particular areas of interest are religion and education, freedom of religion and state funding of religion.
Her current research focuses on the engagement of Muslim’s in the common law legal system. This includes the issue of the wearing of Islamic face veils (burqa and niqab) by witnesses and other participants in the court process.
Renae’s Phd thesis was titled ‘The changing relationship between the State and religion in Australia: 1788 to modern Australia. What has changed?, What is the same? And what does that tell us?’. It covered State restrictions on religious practice, religion and education and State funding of religion.

'Under most peculiar circumstances': The church acts in the Australian colonies as a study of plural establishment' (2016)3 Law & History 28

'Rebutting the Ban the Burqa Rhetoric: A Critical Analysis of the Arguments for a Ban on the Islamic Face Veil in Australia' (2016) 37(1) Adelaide Law Review 191

'Scientology, the test case religion.' (2015) 40(4) Alternative Law Review 275

'A Critical Analysis of Religious Aspects of the Australian Chaplaincy Cases' (2015)4(1) Oxford Journal of Law and Religion 26 - 53

‘The Full Face Covering Debate: The Australian Perspective’ (2012) 36(1) University of Western Australia Law Review 143

‘The Priest Penitent Privilege in Australia and Its Consequences’ (2006), E-Law, (Note: published under Maiden Name)


‘Burqas in the Court Room: Voices from Behind the Veil’ (A paper presented at the Oxford
Journal of law and Religion 2015 Summer Academy, Oxford, 21 – 24 June 2015)

‘Plural Establishment in Australia – What Was It and When Was it?’ (A paper presented at
the 33rd Annual ANZLHS Conference, Coffs Harbour, 10 – 13 December 2014)

‘Section 116 of the Australian Constitution – The Known Unknowns’ (A paper presented at the Gilbert + Tobin Centre of Public Law 2014 Postgraduate Workshop in Public Law Sydney, 17 – 20 July 2014)

‘A Question to the Founding Father: why don’t we have a freedom of Religion?’ (A paper presented at RUSSLR Conference Canberra, 14 August 2009)


Is Australia a secular country? It depends what you mean (14 May 2015)

Explainer: can religious schools discriminate in their enrolments? (7 May 2015)

Cakegate: a story of the clash of religious freedom and gay rights (13 March 2015)

Banning the burqa is not the answer to fears about public safety (22 September 2014)

Anglican Shift on Confessions puts Abuse Victims’ Interests First (11 July 2014)

Charitable Treatment by Regulator Belies Church Complaints (1 April 2014)

Explainer: What the Law says about Religious Instruction in Schools (3 March 2014)


'Niqabs in the Court Room: The Need for Judicial Sensitivity and Imagination' (5 December 2016) ABC Religion and Ethics

'Comment: If 2016 brings marriage equality to Australia, will it end the LGBTI rights debate?' (23 December 2015) SBS Sexuality
Roles, responsibilities and expertise
Mooting Coordinator
Honours and awards
2014 Faculty Excellence in Teaching Award
2011 Faculty Excellence in Teaching Award (Tutor)
LAWS3334 Law and Religion
LAWS3391 Special Unit: Law and Religion

LAWS4101 Legal Process
LAWS5307 Special Unit: Mooting
Current external positions
Advocate, Anglican Diocese of Bunbury
Research profile
Research profile and publications

The University of Western Australia

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Last updated:
Tuesday, 3 November, 2015 2:39 PM