Tim Soutphommasane

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Tim Soutphommasane
Tim Soutphommasane 2015-01.jpg
Soutphommasane in 2015
Thinethavone Soutphommasane

1982 (age 39–40)
Montpellier, France
EducationUniversity of Oxford
University of Sydney
OccupationRace Discrimination Commissioner

Thinethavone "Tim" Soutphommasane (/stˈpɒməsɑːn/ soot-POM-ə-sahn; born 1982)[1] is an Australian academic, social commentator and former public servant. He was Australia's Race Discrimination Commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission from 2013 to 2018.[1] He has previously been a political staffer for Bob Carr, a columnist with The Age and The Australian newspapers, a lecturer at Sydney and Monash Universities, and a research fellow with the Per Capita think tank. He is a member of the board of the National Australia Day Council,[2] and an ex officio member of the Council for Multicultural Australia.[3]

Early life[edit]

Soutphommasane[4] was born in Montpellier, France in 1982 to Chinese and Lao parents who had fled Laos as refugees in 1975.[2]

His family was resettled by the Family Reunion Program of the Australian Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs to Sydney's south-western suburbs in 1985,[5] where he was raised. He was educated at Hurlstone Agricultural High School.[5]

Soutphommasane delivering a speech at the 2015 Human Rights Awards.


Soutphommasane graduated from the University of Sydney with a first-class honours degree.[1] He was then a Commonwealth Scholar and Jowett Senior Scholar at Balliol College of the University of Oxford[5] where he completed a Master of Philosophy with distinction and a Doctor of Philosophy in political theory.

From 2010 to 2012 he was a Lecturer in Australian Studies and a Research Fellow at the National Centre for Australian Studies of Monash University.[citation needed] He was one of six chief investigators on an Australian Research Council Linkage project studying the history of ANZAC Day.[4][6]

In 2019, he was appointed Professor of Practice in Sociology and Political Theory at the University of Sydney to teach human rights related theory.[7]


Soutphommasane was a regular writer for The Australian newspaper, to which he contributed feature articles and the Ask the Philosopher column each Saturday. He also wrote for The Monthly magazine. While living in England, Soutphommasane was a freelance journalist, contributing blog entries to The Guardian and The Financial Times, as well as opinion pieces and reviews to The Spectator, The Australian, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.[8]


Soutphommasane's first book Reclaiming Patriotism: Nation-Building for Australian Progressives was published in 2009. Loosely based on research undertaken toward his doctoral thesis, the book argues that people with progressive politics must re-engage with ideas of patriotism and national identity, which Soutphommasane claims were surrendered to the right during the Prime Ministership of John Howard.

His The Virtuous Citizen: Patriotism in a Multicultural Society[9] was published in 2012 and Don't Go Back To Where You Came From: Why Multiculturalism Works, published the next year, won the NSW Premier's Literary Award in the 'Community Relations Commission Award' section.[10]

He was also co-editor (with Nick Dyrenfurth) of All That's Left: What Labor Should Stand For (New South Books, 2010).

Other roles[edit]

Soutphommasane with David Morrison in 2016.

Soutphommasane was appointed to the Council for Multicultural Australia in August 2011.[11]

Political activity[edit]

Soutphommasane joined the Australian Labor Party in 1998, aged 15.[5] He later worked on the speechwriting staff of then New South Wales Premier Bob Carr,[5] and in late 2007 he returned from Oxford to work as a research officer in the office of Kevin Rudd during that year's federal election campaign.[5]


  • Reclaiming Patriotism: Nation-Building for Australian Progressives (Port Melb: Cambridge University Press, 2009) Paperback, ISBN 978-0-521-13472-9
  • Don't Go Back To Where You Came From: Why Multiculturalism Works (New South Books, 2012)
  • The Virtuous Citizen: Patriotism in a Multicultural Society (Cambridge University Press, 2012)
  • I'm Not Racist but... (NewSouth Publishing, 2015)
  • On Hate (Melbourne University Press, 2019)


  1. ^ a b c "Race Discrimination Commissioner, Dr Tim Soutphommasane". Australian Human Rights Commission (Humanrights.gov.au). 20 August 2013. Retrieved 27 May 2014.
  2. ^ a b "The NS Profile: Tim Soutphommasane". New Statesman. newstatesman.com. 16 August 2012. Retrieved 27 May 2014.
  3. ^ "Council members: Australian Multicultural Council". Amc.gov.au. Retrieved 27 May 2014.
  4. ^ a b "Anzac Day at Home and Abroad: A Centenary History of Australia's National Day: Team". Arts Research Showcase. Monash University-Faculty of Arts. 10 January 2013. Retrieved 27 May 2014.
  5. ^ a b c d e f "Tim Soutphommasane: Taking back the light". Sydney IQ. The University of Sydney (Usyd.edu.au). 1 December 2009. Retrieved 27 May 2014.
  6. ^ "Dr Tim Soutphommasane-Biography". Monash University. Archived from the original on 27 May 2014. Retrieved 27 May 2014.
  7. ^ "Tim Soutphommasane returns to the University of Sydney". The University of Sydney. Retrieved 21 January 2019.
  8. ^ Soutphommasane, Reclaiming Patriotism (Port Melb: Cambridge University Press, 2009), p.i. Paperback, ISBN 978-0-521-13472-9
  9. ^ Soutphommasane, Tim (2012). The Virtuous Citizen: Patriotism in a Multicultural Society. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9781107025141.
  10. ^ "Winners announced for 2013 NSW Premier's Literary Awards" (PDF) (Press release). State Library of New South Wales. 19 May 2013. p. 5. Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 June 2014. Retrieved 27 May 2014.
  11. ^ "Speech to the Australian Multicultural Council Launch, Canberra". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (Australia). 22 August 2011. Archived from the original on 9 October 2016. Retrieved 8 October 2016.

External links[edit]