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The Sydney Atheists Monthly Talk

This event will require a five dollar donation from members of Sydney Atheists. Non-members will be required to pay $10. Of course it is easy to become a Sydney Atheists Meetup member, just join on our website. We are not for profit and 100% of funds will go to operating the group. Also, the hotel is doing us a very good deal for the space and providing very affordable food and drink.

This Month's talks will be given by Dr Andrew Morrison, Senior Counsel: "Child abuse by religious institutions exposed and addressed".

Part one: What religious institutions have done to avoid responsibility and liability for child abuse.

Part two: The royal commission into child sexual abuse.

A very generous question time is included with these talks

Synopsis:   Dr Andrew Morrison RFD SC is a spokesperson for the Australian Lawyers Alliance.  He was Senior Counsel for John Ellis, who was sexually abused as an altar boy in the Roman Catholic Church.  The Church argued that it did not exist as a legal entity, the Trustees who held its extensive wealth could not be sued and there was no-one to take responsibility.  In addition, the Church argued that even if it existed, it was not vicariously liable for the criminal actions of its priests.  Whilst John Ellis succeeded in getting an extension of time to sue at first instance, his case failed in the NSW Court of Appeal and leave to appeal to the High Court was refused.  Unlike the position in England and Wales, the United States, Ireland and Canada, the Church has successfully argued that because it technically does not employ its clergy, it is not responsible for them.  That is so in the Ellis case, even where the abuse occurred between a member of the clergy and an altar boy and initially on Church premises in a presbytery.  There are indications from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse that the Church’s position is likely to be seriously challenged in the recommendations coming from the Royal Commission.

About the speaker: Sydney Atheists are proud to have Dr Andrew Morrison RFD SC present his talk. Andrew is a Senior Counsel at 16 Wardell Chambers in Sydney.  His practice is primarily in major personal injury cases in NSW and other Australian jurisdictions, including a substantial number of appeals to the High Court.  He holds a PhD and has published a number of academic papers in the area of constitutional history.  He has served as an acting District Court Judge.  He holds the rank of Colonel in the Australian Army Reserve.


Please note that the dinner and talks will both be at the one venue, First Floor Strattons Hotel, 249 Castlereagh Street Sydney.

Dinner will be available from 6.00pm whilst the talks will begin at 7.00pm.

You will be able to eat before or during the talks. We will also have a 15 minute intermission. This venue affords us much in the way of social possibilities as well as the talks. Please note that catering will not be available after 8.30pm. Meals are available from less than $10.00.

Location: 249 Castlereagh St, Sydney NSW
The nearest station is Museum, whilst Town Hall Station is a 5 to 10 minute walk. Cheap parking is available at 730 George Street, $9 flat rate 6 mins from the meetup hotel. If you come in the door to the furthest right of the Pub on Castlereagh Street, then up the stairs to the right, and all the way to the top, there is a large room to the left.

Once a month the Meetup meets for a topical discussion with a special guest. 


Friday 8th August talk "The influence of religion in the affairs of selected countries" by career ambassador JohnMcCarthy. Pleaase RSVP at

Friday 12th September talks "The psychology of belief-Cognitive dissonance and Psychoanalytic views on religion" by Margaret-Anee Tait and Maria Fuentes Bahamonde. Please RSVP at

Friday 10th October talks: Wade Fairclough "The beauty of Science -how science and technology improved our lives" AND Professor Geraint Lewis "The secret lives of Galaxies - The Milky Way is a cannibal". Please RSVP at

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  • Steve M.

    On behalf of Sydney Atheists, I would like to say a very big thank you to Dr Andrew Morrison who gave a five star performance .

    Andrew's talk was a great success. The topic was a very melancholy and distressing one that questioned the morality of the Catholic Church in particular. Andrew's presentation of the topic was very informative, enlightening and thorough. For those that missed the evening, we expect to have it on our Youtube channel soon.

    2 · July 12, 2014

  • Phillip

    I agree Michael, not a topic that you could say is enjoyable but a very illuminating presentation by Andrew imparted a lot of valuable information. Many thanks to the organisers

    July 12, 2014

  • Michael B.

    Fantastic talk, a real treat even if the subject matter was quite depressing

    1 · July 12, 2014

  • Tracy B.

    Sorry guys. I am rostered on the street outreach van tonight so can't make it

    July 11, 2014

    • Nad R.

      Is this a community service run by Sydney Atheists? I'm interested.

      1 · July 11, 2014

  • Keith David C.

    Sorry to not be able to attend. A very important topic.

    July 7, 2014

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