Civil Society

With freedom comes responsibility. A society of free individuals can only function if everyone respects the rights and liberties of everybody else. This means we have to voluntarily limit our own desires and monitor our own behaviour in the hope and expectation that other people will do the same in their relations with us.

But there is evidence that these informal norms governing our behaviour have been fraying over recent decades. The CIS asks what are the causes and consequences of the decline of civility and social cohesion, and what can be done about it?

The research also examines how government is weakening civil society by trying to eradicate risk from our lives and by ‘crowding out’ voluntary activity with state initiatives?


Ending the Violence in Indigenous Communities
Jacinta Nampijinpa Price, Marcia Langton, Josephine Cashman
05 December 2016 | OP152

Urgent action is need to address the epidemic of violence in Indigenous communities. Aboriginal women are between 37 and 80 times more likely to experience family violence than non-Indigenous women. For too long, the voices of the victims of domestic violence have been oppressed and…

The Battle of Ideas: can the beliefs that feed terrorism be changed?
Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Denis Dragovic, Tanveer Ahmed, Peter Kurti
19 September 2016 | OP149

Defeating violent Islamic extremism has been a high priority for all western countries, including Australia, since the 9/11 attacks in 2001. However, the threat we face doesn’t so much come from zealots flying planes into buildings as from young people barely out of childhood and…

The High Court, Democracy and Same Sex Marriage
Barry Maley
19 July 2016 | OP147

The High Court in 2013 overturned the understanding of marriage in the Marriage Act 1961 as an exclusive, voluntary, heterosexual union for life, and that the Constitution therefore allowed the introduction of same sex marriage if the Parliament so decided. It is argued that the…

The Democratic Deficit: How Minority Fundamentalism Threatens Liberty in Australia
Peter Kurti
12 July 2016 | Research Report 16

We are faced with a new kind of fundamentalism – call it ‘minority fundamentalism.’ It has all the features of religious fundamentalism, such as ideological fanaticism, intolerance of dissent, and a Manichaean certainty about truth and falsehood. The goal of the minority fundamentalists is to…

No Ordinary Garment: The Burqa and the Pursuit of Tolerance
Peter Kurti
11 June 2015 | Research Report 5

Islam is asserting itself in new ways in Australia. Muslim groups are increasingly asking that precedence be given to sharia law over secular laws passed by our parliaments. There are also calls for greater public acceptance of Islamic practices in economic and social life. Some…

Media & Commentary

Vale Michael Novak
Peter Kurti
24 February 2017 | Ideas@TheCentre

When CIS hosted Michael Novak in 1995, he noted — with concern — people’s tendency to envy those who are more prosperous than ourselves. Novak, who died last week, insisted…

We want freedom of speech. And we want it now
Peter Kurti
03 February 2017 | Daily Telegraph

Pollies and elite media are finally getting the message: when it comes down to the views of ordinary Aussies, freedom of speech matters — and we don’t want to be…

We're not racist
Peter Kurti
09 December 2016 | Daily Telegraph

Aussies preparing for the festive season had an unwelcome early Christmas present from the United Nations dropped in their laps earlier this week. According to UN special rapporteur on racism,…

From pillory to post-truth
Peter Kurti
02 December 2016 | Ideas@TheCentre

The word designated by Oxford Dictionaries as the Word of the Year for 2016 is post-truth — as in, “some commentators have observed that we are living in a post-truth…

Privately-funded, better measured, more accountable social services
Jeremy Sammut
11 November 2016 | Ideas@TheCentre

National Adoption Awareness Week has redrawn attention to the appallingly few adoptions in Australia — despite the appallingly high number of children in foster care that will never go home…