This policy outlines the principles by which Leaders Institute (LI) academic staff and students pursue research and scholarship, and express lawful views relating to their academic expertise without fear or favour.
Academic freedom: includes the rights of all academic staff and students to:
• engage in intellectual inquiry, to express their opinions and beliefs, and to contribute to public debate, relating to their field expertise;
• express their opinions relating to LI or higher education more generally;
• pursue critical and open inquiry and (where appropriate) to teach, assess, develop curricula, publish, and research without restriction by established scholarly consensus or institutional policy, but subject to scholarly standards;
• participate, in a personal capacity, in public debates about political and social issues;
• if appropriate, participate in public debates as a recognised expert or as a person with recognised academic expertise;
• participate, in a personal capacity, in professional and representative bodies including industrial associations and to engage in community service without fear of harassment, intimidation or unfair treatment;
• express unpopular or controversial views, although this does not mean the right to harass, vilify, or intimidate other persons or to demean alternative points of view;
• make public comment on any issue in their personal capacities, not speaking either on behalf of LI or as a representative of LI.
Media: traditional and new media including print, television, radio, online forums (including but not limited to new sites, comment boards, social networking sites, blogs, podcasts).
Speech: extends to all forms of expressive conduct including, oral, and written speech, virtual, artistic, and performance.
Social Media: internet and mobile-based channels and tools that allow users to interact, share opinions and content – via written comments, video, or audio files – and encourage participation and engagement in building communities or networks.
Social Media Account: a user profile established on a social media platform for the purpose of official social media use.
Visitor: any external person who has been invited by LI or an LI student representative group to speak on LI’s premises.
• LI supports and encourages academic staff and students to pursue lines of enquiry and to express personal lawful views, both within LI and publicly, in their academic expertise.
• academic freedom and freedom of speech should comply with LI’s Code of Conduct Policy and other related LI policies.
• LI encourages academic staff to participate in public debate and be available to the media for comment in their field of expertise. Academic staff have the right to express opinions, ideas, and research outcomes in their fields of expertise in accordance with Australian conventions of academic debate. Statements should always be accurate, professional, and respectful of others and exercise appropriate restraint.
• Academic staff and students should make every effort to indicate that they are not speaking on behalf of LI. Also, members of academic staff will not identify themselves as staff of the Institute when speaking, writing, or otherwise communicating on matters not within the province of their academic expertise.
• LI does not, in any way, penalise those who may express views that do not align with the views of LI.
• LI staff and students have the same freedom of lawful speech in connection with activities conducted on LI premises or otherwise in connection with LI, as any other person in their circumstances, subject only to the constraints imposed by:
o the reasonable and proportionate regulation of conduct necessary to the discharge of LI’s teaching and research activities;
o the right and freedom of all to express themselves and to hear and receive information and opinions;
o the reasonable and proportionate regulation of conduct to ensure the wellbeing of staff, students, and visitors.
• Students are free to inquire, exchange ideas, critically examine, present, and discuss controversial material relevant to a unit or course. No student can obstruct other students when exercising their right to differ. Academic staff guidance of student research is desirable and appropriate. Students’ freedom of inquiry while conducting research is protected subject to legal, scholarly, and professional standards. Views expressed in student assessments or research are not to be taken as views of LI, and students should take care not to represent them as such.
• The exercise of academic freedom in accordance with these principles shall not constitute misconduct nor attract any penalty or other adverse action.
• LI has the right and responsibility to determine the terms and conditions upon which it shall permit external visitors to speak on LI premises and use LI facilities.
Views expressed in LI’s research centres or publications are not necessarily those of LI. Research directors and editors have a duty to uphold free expression in accordance with Australian conventions of academic debate but should also exercise wisdom in avoiding needless offense to those who hold different views of contentious matters. In all cases persons regardless of affiliation or views should be treated respectfully, and continued dialogue between those of different views encouraged.
All media requests and invitations to visit LI’s premises or issuing a media release must be referred to the President and a suitable spokesperson can make a public comment on matters of LI policy and management decisions.
The Institute can authorise and maintain social media accounts and channels. LI recognises the use of and participation in social media in the learning process and community engagement however all staff and students must comply with LI’s policies and procedures. All staff and students must avoid defamatory, incorrect, or misleading information.
LI may approve and distribute all media statements or releases including liaising with media outlets. Staff are required to advise the President of any media requests as soon as possible, so that an appropriate response or key messages can be prepared and presented. If a staff member or student identifies themselves as an Institute member and engages in content sharing on social media, the student or staff members should state that their opinions are their own.
Communication training and advice to staff is provided by LI to address media inquiries and responses. Written approval from the LI President is required for the following:
- distribution of all media statements or releases regarding LI, including liaising with media outlets;
- sharing social media content, including stories about LI and stories referring to issues relating to LI;
- sharing content on LI official social media platforms;
- speaking or writing on behalf of the President and/or LI;
- responding to media requests as soon as possible so that an appropriate response or key messages can be prepared and presented;
- responding to complaints about the performance of LI staff or students handling of media issues and appropriate retractions or responses provided to the media;
- paying for media placement as a form of LI advertising and any requests for placement.
If a staff member or student identifies themselves as part of LI and engages in content sharing on social media, the staff member or student should state that their opinions are their own.
In the case of a critical incident related to LI, the Critical Incident Management Policy should be followed.
If a staff member or student believes that their academic freedom or freedom of speech as set out in this policy has been compromised, they may follow the relevant LI grievance procedures. Similarly, LI has the right to act in accordance with LI policies if a staff member or student breaches this policy.