Research Grants Program

Periodically, the Rationalist Society of Australia awards academic research grants as part of the RSA Research Grants Program.

This program aims to support research that furthers knowledge and understanding of secularism and freethought in Australia. The topics of the research undertaken in the program may vary from time to time, but could include areas such as:

  • The impact of freethought and secularism in Australia.
  • The effectiveness of critical thinking skills teaching in Australian schools.
  • The role of experts in media and public policy in Australia.
  • Privileges granted by law and government policy to religious groups in Australia.
  • The influence of organised religion on healthcare policy and practice in Australia.

There are two categories of grants:

  • The Ian Robinson Grants for Emerging Researchers: funding of up to A$5,000 to individual emerging researchers.
  • The RSA Patrons’ Grants: funding of up to A$15,000 to individual researchers or teams of researchers.

These grants are made possible due to the financial support of our members and donors. If you’d like to contribute, you can donate here or become a member here.

Further Grants Programs may be announced by the RSA, depending on financial capacity. Information will be posted on this webpage and shared to our members and subscribers, and via our social media platforms.

2021 Recipients

Dr Ronli Sifris

Senior Lecturer, Monash University; Deputy Director, Castan Centre for Human Rights Law

Grant approved: RSA Patrons’ Grants

Dr Sifris’ research is inquiring into the influence of religion in beginning and end-of-life medical treatment in Australia and conscientious objection provisions in abortion and voluntary assisted dying laws.

As part of her research, she will review existing literature relating to rates of conscientious objection amongst Australian medical practitioners and also conduct a comparative analysis to consider how other countries address the issue of conscientious objection in these contexts. She will also conduct an analysis of existing scholarly research from disciplines such as law, bioethics and public health.

During 2022, we caught up with Dr Sifris to discuss her research project so far.

Dr Jennifer Bleazby

Senior Lecturer, Monash University

Grant approved: RSA Patrons’ Grants

Dr Bleazby’s research is inquiring into religious education in Australian government schools and whether current laws, policies, practices and curricula undermine the fundamental aims of education.

As part of her research, she is examining existing laws, policies, practices and curriculum materials pertaining to the teaching of religious education in government schools. She is focusing on the extent to which they align with, or undermine, the fundamental educational aims of: 1) the development of the capacity for inquiry (which includes critical thinking); 2) understanding of key, common knowledge; and 3) fostering democratic communities.

During 2022, we caught up with Dr Bleazby to discuss her research project so far.

Liam Elphick

Associate Lecturer, Faculty of Law, Monash University

Grant approved: The Ian Robinson Grants for Emerging Researchers

Mr Elphick’s research is inquiring into secularism and ‘religious freedom’, with a particular focus on the role and impact of academic experts in law reform following the introduction in Australia of marriage equality laws.

He is examining how academic experts have engaged with law reform inquiries on ‘religious freedom’ and the extent to which they have influenced outcomes. His research is also considering the extent to which policymakers prioritise religious perspectives in these law reform inquiries.