Professor Dawn Freshwater

Professor Dawn Freshwater

Dawn became Vice-Chancellor of The University of Western Australia (UWA) in January 2017 and is currently leading the development and execution of UWA’s Vision 2030 and Strategic Plan 2025. She is Chair and Director of the Group of Eight (Go8), Board Director of Perth USAsia Centre, member of the Partnership Board of the World University Network (WUN), member of the National Health and Research Medical Council (NHMRC)’s Women in Health Science (WiHS) Committee, member of Chief Executive Women (CEW) Engagement Committee and a board member of Lifeline WA. Dawn will also assume the role of Chair of the Matariki Network of Universities (MNU) in July.


Dawn will be contributing to Plenary session 4: Academic Freedom and free speech on Wednesday 10 July with Baroness Valerie Amos, Director, SOAS, Dr Robert Gordon, Provost and Vice-President: Academic and Professor in Geography & Environmental Studies, Wilfrid Laurier University and Professor Stuart Corbridge, Vice-Chancellor and Warden, Durham University and UCEA Board member.


All issues of freedom of speech have to be related to context. The academic context is that of a workplace with special responsibilities to the world outside. Those responsibilities are best met, and academics are most free to explore and develop their individual potential, when universities are workplaces with strong, creative cultures, which foster independent and critical thought and encourage an atmosphere and practice of mutual respect.
In Australia, the so-called “culture wars” of the 1990s have created shifting definitions of free speech, particularly as free speech relates to universities. Codes of conduct and industrial agreements reflect conflicting viewpoints, and are all subject to complex issues of interpretation. Australia’s premier conservative thinktank reported in December 2018 that only one Australian university was not hostile to free speech. We beg to differ.
Dawn did not present a slide deck
This page was last updated on 11 July 2019