• Entry type: Person
  • Entry ID: AWE5424

Evans, Carolyn

(1970 – )
  • Nationality Australian
  • Born 1 January, 1970, Melbourne Victoria Australia
  • Occupation Academic, Dean, Lawyer


Carolyn Evans was born in 1970. She grew up in the outer suburb of Greensborough with father Terry, a printer, and mother Tess (then a primary school teacher, in more recent years a novelist) and younger brothers Tim and Julian. She attended St Mary’s Primary School Greensborough and Catholic Ladies’ College Eltham. At secondary school, she was particularly involved in public speaking competitions competing in several national and state level competitions.

She commenced at Melbourne University in 1989 and graduated with an LLB (hons) and BA. While at university, Evans was involved in debating and was Vice-President of the Melbourne University Debating Society. She participated in a wide range of mooting competitions, winning the Australasian Law Students Society Mooting Competition (at which she was also awarded Best Speaker), coming runner up in the International Final of the Jessup Mooting Competition (including winning best speaker in the international final), and winning the Governor-General’s Mooting Competition.

After graduating, Evans commenced Articles at Blake Dawson Waldron (as it then was) in 1994 and was admitted to practice in the following year. She worked across Banking and Finance, Property and Government law as an articled clerk and then solicitor in 1994-95.

Evans was awarded the Rhodes Scholarship for Victoria for 1995 and read for a DPhil in Law at Exeter College, Oxford. Her doctoral work on religious freedom was published as ‘Religious Freedom Under the European Convention on Human Rights’ by Oxford University Press in 2001. During her time at Oxford, Evans was appointed to a Stipendiary Lectureship in Law at Exeter College for two years.

In 2000, Evans returned to Australia and took up sessional work at Melbourne Law School where she was later appointed to a Senior Lectureship. She was promoted to Professor at age thirty-eight on the basis of her internationally recognized expertise in human rights law, particularly religious freedom and institutional protections of human rights. She was shortlisted by the United Nations for the position of Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief in 2010. In the same year, Evans was awarded a Fulbright Senior Scholarship to allow her to travel as a Visiting Fellow at American and Emory Universities to examine questions of comparative religious freedom.

Evans is the author of ‘Religious Freedom under the European Court of Human Rights’ (OUP 2001) and ‘The Legal Protection of Religious Freedom in Australia’ (Federation Press: 2012). She is co-author of ‘Australian Bills of Rights: The Law of the Victorian Charter and the ACT Human Rights Act’ (LexisNexis 2008). She is co-editor of ‘Religion and International Law’ (1999, Kluwer); ‘Mixed Blessings: Laws, Religions and Women’s Rights in the Asia-Pacific Region’ (2006 Martinus Nijhoff) and ‘Law and Religion in Historical and Theoretical Perspective’ (CUP 2008). She is an internationally recognised expert on religious freedom and the relationship between law and religion and has spoken on these topics in the United States, United Kingdom, Russia, China, Greece, Vietnam, India, Hong Kong, Switzerland, Malaysia, Nepal and Australia.

In 2011, Evans was appointed as the first female Dean of Melbourne Law School at the University of Melbourne. Prior to this she had held administrative roles including Associate Dean Research and Deputy Director, Centre for Comparative Constitutional Studies. During her time as Dean, she has overseen the final years of the LLB and the growth of the Juris Doctor program. She led the development of a clinical and experiential set of subjects through the Public Interest Law Initiative and oversaw a major Campaign that raised millions of dollars for the Law School, including a funded chair in Human Rights.

Evans is married to Dr Stephen Donaghue Q.C. and they have two children, Caitlin and Michael Donaghue-Evans.

Published resources