The Faith-Based Governance & Dispute Resolution Conference was the first of its kind, bringing together community leaders, agencies, regulators and experts to consider best practice in governance and dispute resolution in light of the Royal Commissions.

This major capacity building endeavour was attended by 340 delegates representing at least 17 different faith groups.

Over two days, from 5-6 December 2017, delegates heard directly from two Royal Commissioners, representatives from government regulators, and expert governance and dispute resolution researchers and practitioners.

Follow us on Twitter @CowenCentre #FaithGov17.


The Hon. Jennifer Coate

The Hon. Jennifer Coate


Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse

The Hon. Marcia Neave AO

The Hon. Marcia Neave AO

Former Commissioner

Royal Commission into Family Violence (Victoria)

Francis Sullivan

Francis Sullivan

Chief Executive Officer

Truth, Justice and Healing Council

Liana Buchanan

Liana Buchanan

Principal Commissioner

Children and Young People

Murray Baird

Murray Baird

Assistant Commissioner; General Counsel

Australian Charities & Not-for-profits Commission

Dr Susan Carland

Dr Susan Carland

Academic, author, and social commentator

Gill Callister

Gill Callister


Dept of Education & Training (Victoria)

Rabbi Prof Daniel Sinclair

Rabbi Prof Daniel Sinclair

Professor of Law

Fordham University Law School

Conference highlights

The Faith-Based Governance & Dispute Resolution Conference was held from 5-6 December 2017, to coincide with the delivery of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse Report to government.

The Conference began on Tuesday morning, 5 December with a musical performance by muezzin (Muslim leader of the call to prayer), Sheik Ala El Zokm and didgeridoo player, Brent Watkins.

The Hon Robin Scott MP, Minister for Multicultural Affairs formally opened the Conference.

The opening plenary session featured the Hon Jennifer Coates (Royal Commission into Institutional Responses into Child Sexual Abuse) and the Hon Marcia Neave AO, (Royal Commission into Family Violence).

An interfaith forum provided an opportunity for knowledge exchange for groups that share similar challenges, allowing attendees to contextualise their own experiences while learning about those of others.


Elizabeth Proust AO, Francis Sullivan, the Hon Marcia Neave AO, the Hon Nicola Roxon, Prof Peter Dawkins AO, the Hon Jennifer Coate
Conference opening - Musical performance Brent Watkins & Sheik Alaa El Zokm


Beyond the Royal Commission: Best Practice for Faith-Based Organisations
Both the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and Royal Commission into Family Violence highlighted and recommended the need for faith-based organisations to improve their responses to vulnerable groups, as well as their governance and decision-making practices

Responding to the Royal Commission
Commentators from major faith-based communities discussed their individual responses and strategies.

‘Meet the Regulators’ Panel
Featuring representatives from ACNC, ASIC, ATO and Consumer Affairs (Victoria)

Between Religion and Democracy
How can religious law fit within a secular legal system?

When the Sh..candal Hits the Fan: Risk, Reputation and Relationship Management
A panel of ‘clients’ and ‘advisers’ considered a ‘super-scenario’ where everything that could go wrong, has gone wrong. Issues covered included rebuilding trust, managing risk and developing strategies to address past failures.


Masterclasses were held after the conference on Thursday, 7 December.

Financial Literacy Masterclass
Essentials tools for financial due diligence, including examination of balance sheets, auditing, making provisions and basic taxation rules for charities, and future planning and proofing their organisations.

Follow the Money: Getting Grant Ready
What makes an organisation attractive to public and private philanthropy? How to write a winning grant application.


The Information Exchange Gallery was a poster exhibition showcasing best practice governance resources, case studies and tutorials by community organisations.

The IEG model allowed delegates to share information and learn from the experiences of other organisations.


#FaithGov17 on


Eva and Les Erdi Foundation
Gandel Philanthropy
Victoria Law Foundation


Jewish Community Council of Victoria

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