Policy Corporate Governance Visiting Speaker and Event Policy

Visiting Speaker and Event Policy

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This Policy provides a framework for events with invited or external speakers to ensure respectful debate. This policy outlines for event organisers the requirements for the approval of visiting speakers to events held at a JCU venue, and the additional considerations or arrangements that may be required for their event.


This Policy applies to any person, internal (i.e., staff, affiliate or student) or external to JCU organising an event that involves a visiting speaker/s at any University venue (in Australia).  This policy should also be read in conjunction with the Authorised Use of University Facilities, Premises and/or Grounds for Non-Core Purposes Policy and the Academic Freedom and Freedom of Speech Policy.


Except as otherwise specified in this Policy, the meaning of terms used are as per the Policy Glossary:

Duty to foster the wellbeing of students and staff

a) Includes the duty to ensure that no member of   staff and no student suffers unfair disadvantage or unfair adverse discrimination on any basis recognised at law including race, gender, sexuality, religion and political belief;

b) Includes the duty to ensure that no member of staff and no student is subject to threatening or intimidating behaviour by another person or persons on account of anything they have said or proposed to say in exercising their freedom of speech;

c) supports reasonable and proportionate measures to prevent any person from using lawful speech which a reasonable person would regard, in the circumstances, as likely to humiliate or intimidate other persons and which is intended to have either or both of those effects;

d) does not extend to a duty to protect any person from feeling offended or shocked or insulted by the lawful speech of another.


Any gathering hosted on University land or facilities or an external venue in the name of the University that includes a speaker addressing a group, including in a teaching, learning or research setting or in the context of co-curricular or extra-curricular activity.

Hate speech

Speech or expression that denigrates a person or persons on the basis of  characteristics or attributes such as race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, age, physical or mental disability, and others, and is intended to incite hatred or violence against a group.

Significant Event

An event that has the potential to create public disturbances leading to damage to property or injury to persons, concentrates a large number of people into a crowded place, breach legislative requirements or expose the University to financial or reputational risks.


Extends to all forms of expressive conduct including oral speech and written, artistic, musical and performing works and activity and communication using social media; the word ‘speak’ has a corresponding meaning.

Visiting Speaker

Is any person/s who has been invited to speak or seeks to use University land or facilities to provide a speech as part of an organised event. These speakers may be:

  • Invited - by   the University or by a student society or association or group of students or   representative body or by a member or members of the staff of JCU to speak on   the University’s land or facilities.


  • External   – that is, a person who is not an invited visiting speaker and for   whom permission is being sought by an organisation or group external to JCU   for that person to present on the University’s land or facilities.


1.  Background and purpose

1.1  James Cook University has a strong history as an academic institution that regularly welcomes visiting speakers and groups from our local community, nationally and internationally to our campuses. These speakers bring a diversity of insights, opinions and experiences which enrich our events and activities and can inspire debate and discussion among our staff, students and guests.

1.2  In accordance with the University’s Academic Freedom and Freedom of Speech Policy, JCU encourages staff, students and affiliates to enquire, examine, criticise and challenge in the collegial and academic spirit of the search for knowledge, understanding and truth. The protection of Academic Freedom and freedom of speech does not allow a speaker to break the law or breach the lawful rights of others.

1.3  JCU Event organisers have a responsibility under Australian anti-discrimination laws including the Age Discrimination Act 2014, Disability Discrimination Act 1992, Racial Discrimination Act 1975, Sex Discrimination Act 1984, Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986, and the Queensland Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 and Human Rights Act 2019, as well as the respective JCU Codes of Conduct and Enterprise Agreement where they apply to ensure respectful debate.

1.4  James Cook University has the right and responsibility to determine the terms and conditions upon which it shall permit visiting speaker’s access to University facilities in order to discharge the duty to foster the wellbeing of staff and students. Application to use University facilities is made via the Estate Directorate who have the authority to:

1.4.1 approve a request;

1.4.2 approve a request and impose conditions; and

1.4.3 refuse a request if it doesn’t conform to University usage requirements.

1.5  Whilst most speaking engagements will fit within the approval processes of the Authorised Use of University Facilities, Premises and/or Grounds for Non-Core Purposes Policy, and the terms and conditions set within any facility hire agreement, there may be either invited or external speakers who’s attendance or topic may require an additional risk management and notification process.

1.6  This right of refusal is on the grounds of safety, not the contents of any speech, unless the content of the speech is or is likely to:

1.6.1 be unlawful;

1.6.2 prejudice the fulfilment by the university of its duty to foster the wellbeing of staff and students;

1.6.3 involve the advancement of theories or propositions which purport to be based on scholarship or research but which fall below scholarly standards to such an extent as to be detrimental to the university's character as an institution of higher learning.

2. Significant Events requiring additional review

2.1  Identifying a speaking event that may require an additional layer of review will be primarily based on:

2.1.1 the level of risk to health and safety to persons;

2.1.2 the potential for breach of legislative requirements;

2.1.3 any associated contractual and legal obligations (such as permits, licensing or insurance);

2.1.4 the level of involvement of external organisations, contractors or volunteers; and

2.1.5 the exposure of the University to financial or reputational risks.

2.2  Significant Events require a higher level of analysis, planning and approval to ensure that the event and associated activities are appropriately managed including issues of traffic management; personal and workplace safety and security are considered; and that contractors or volunteers are appropriately inducted and supervised..

2.3  If any of the attributes below are present, the Event will be considered to be a Significant Event and the Significant Event shall be referred to the Chief of Staff to undertake a University Risk Management assessment. These attributes include:

2.3.1 JCU organised events open to the public where more than 1,500 participants are invited or expected to attend, or if there are potential behavioural or security related risks (e.g. a concert or entertainment event);

2.3.2 an external organisation is hosting a large scale (more than 300 attendees) event on University premises;

2.3.3 the event involves the use of hazardous equipment, materials or processes (e.g. plant, machinery or equipment, amusement structures, entertainment equipment, dangerous goods and hazardous materials, stage rigging, or working or performing at heights);

2.3.4 concerns that the advancement of a theory or proposition would be a threat to public health and safety;

2.3.5 concerns that the advancement of a theory or proposition which despite purporting to be based on scholarship or research actually falls below scholarly standards to such an extent as to be detrimental to the university's character as an institution of higher learning;

2.3.6 the proposed Visiting Speaker or Event presenting a risk of;

  • inciting persons to commit criminal acts; or
  • the expression of hate speech; or
  • inciting or promoting radicalisation of attendees (in this context radicalisation meaning advocating or promoting the use of fear,  terror  and  violence);

2.4  Upon completion of the University Risk Management assessment by the Chief of Staff, the Chief of Staff shall provide a recommendation to the Vice Chancellor who may, in his or her absolute discretion approve or refuse the application to conduct the Significant Event on balance, ie safety and other risks cannot be mitigated. If approval is granted, the Vice Chancellor may impose conditions on the approval.

2.5  In any consideration of invited or external speakers, JCU requires that event organisers:

2.5.1 comply with the University’s booking procedures and seek permission for the use of University land or facilities and to provide information relevant to the conduct of any event, and any public safety and security issues;

2.5.2 to contribute in whole or in part to the cost of providing security and other measures in the interests of public safety  in connection with the event at which the invited or external visitor is speaking.

2.6  The Chief of Staff may seek advice from internal and external stakeholders such as the Event Organisers, Director, Estate, Workplace Health and Safety, Manager Campus Safety and Security, University General Counsel, Head, Media and Communications, Queensland Police Service and others where relevant in providing recommendations to the Vice Chancellor.

2.7  In the spirit of open and collegiate debate, the University will seek to ensure that events or speakers identified as posing a potential safety or reputational risk will be approved subject to the agreement of an Event Safety Management Plan (see clause 4 below).

3. Right of Refusal

3.1  The University reserves the right to cancel, postpone or request modification to any Event or Significant Event should risks be identified that are not able to be mitigated to the satisfaction of the Vice Chancellor.

3.2  The University may impose conditions on the holding of an Event or a Significant Event, including among other things:

3.2.1 request a submission of any speeches in advance of the event;

3.2.2 place limits on attendance;

3.2.3 seek a register of attendees in advance of the event;

3.2.4 request stewards/security be provided by the organisers;

3.2.5 ensure the presence of a manager of the University and/or the Student Association at JCU to ensure good order;

3.2.6 ensure a presence of JCU Security to ensure good order;

3.2.7 place a limitation on what attendees may bring to the event; and

3.2.8 place a ban on banners, flags, placards or similar items being allowed into the venue and its immediate surroundings, where those items may pose a potential safety or reputational risk, or damage to property.

3.3  JCU reserves the right to perform spot checks on events being held on University premises. If there are breaches of any policy, terms and conditions of facility hire or other contract, or breaches to the Event Safety Management Plan, the matter may be referred for cancellation and, where relevant, legal or disciplinary action.

3.4  In accordance with the Incident Management Policy, the University will report any major incidences of concern involving events on campus to the Chief of Staff.

4. Event Safety Management Plan

4.1  For each Significant Event an Event Safety Management Plan must be prepared which contains the following:

4.1.1 a summary of the event, including date, time and location;

4.1.2 the key personnel involved, such as staff, volunteers, contractors and suppliers;

4.1.3 information, training and induction to be provided to key personnel;

4.1.4 a risk register;

4.1.5 communications and emergency preparedness arrangements; and

4.1.6 safe operating procedures where relevant.

4.2  The Event Organiser is responsible for preparing the Emergency Safety Management Plan which will then be reviewed and approved by the Chief of Staff.

5. Associated Costs

5.1  Any costs incurred by JCU in complying with these conditions may be passed onto the Event Organiser. Event organisers would be consulted on any conditions or modifications in advance of the event taking place and they would then be responsible for informing the visiting speaker of the outcome.

6. Data Sharing

6.1  When it is deemed that there is a legitimate reason to do so, James Cook University reserves the right to share information on external speakers it has hosted, and/or those which the University has deemed to be a risk, with other relevant agencies.

7. Complaints

7.1  Failure by a member of JCU staff or a JCU student to comply with this policy will be treated seriously and may be subject to formal action under the University’s normal disciplinary processes. In the event that a member of staff, student, or a visitor considers there to have been a breach of this Policy by a Visiting Speaker or host organisation, they have the right to make a complaint by contacting the Chief of Staff.

Related policy instruments

Academic Freedom and Freedom of Speech Policy

Authorised Use of University Facilities, Premises and/or Grounds for Non-Core Purposes Policy

Incident Management Policy

Related documents and legislation

Age Discrimination Act 2004

Anti-Discrimination Act (Qld) 1991

Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986

Disability Discrimination Act 1992

Racial Discrimination Act 1975

Sex Discrimination Act 1984

Human Rights Act (Qld) 2019


NOTE: Printed copies of this policy are uncontrolled, and currency can only be assured at the time of printing.

Approval Details

Policy DomainCorporate Governance

Policy Sub-domain


Policy Custodian

Vice Chancellor

Approval Authority


Date for next Major Review


Revision History


Approval date

Approved by

Implementation date







Amendments to reflect Academic Freedom and Freedom of Speech Policy

Chief of Staff





Policy established

Chief of Staff


Visiting speaker; guest speaker; event

Contact person

Chief of Staff