Philip Freier has been Archbishop of Melbourne since December 2006, and Primate of Australia since July 2014. He was ordained priest in 1984, and has been a bishop since 1999 when he became Bishop of the Northern Territory.
He earlier served the church in different roles and places. His positions include Examining Chaplain to the Archbishop of Brisbane (1993-1999); Area Dean of the Burnett, rector of Christ Church in Bundaberg, and rector St Oswald’s in Banyo, all in the Diocese of Brisbane.
On being elected primate at 59, Dr Freier identified the biggest challenge facing the church as providing pastoral support for the large percentage of elderly members while also bringing renewal. He said cutting through with the Christian message and lifting public trust in the church were also high on his agenda.
Dr Freier grew up in a working class suburb of Brisbane, and trained as a teacher. He worked at Thursday Island, Kowanyama, and Yarrabah before becoming an advisory teacher in Aboriginal education with the Queensland Education Department.
He experienced a powerful conversion to Christ while working with Indigenous Christians in North Queensland – where he also met his wife, Joy – and decided to seek ordination in the Anglican Church.
Dr Freier’s qualifications include a PhD from James Cook University; a Master of Educational Studies from the University of Newcastle; a Bachelor of Divinity from the Melbourne College of Divinity; and Diploma in Education from the University of Queensland.
Before becoming a Christian and turning his interests to theology, he studied science and has a Bachelor of Applied Science from the Queensland Institute of Technology. He is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
His church life has involved ministering to people in a wide variety of contexts, both formal and informal, including cross cultural. He chaired of the Board of Delegates of the Australian College of Theology from 2002 to 2007 and is chairman of the Doctrine Commission of the General Synod.
In 2000 he completed a PhD at James Cook University for a thesis on ‘Living with the Munpitch: The History of Mitchell River Mission, 1905-1967’. He maintains a keen interest in Australian Anglican history, and from 2000 to 2003 he was an Honorary Fellow of the Faculty of Law, Business and Arts at the Northern Territory University.
Philip is married to Joy and has two adult children and three grandchildren. He includes bush-walking, reading and the visual arts among his recreational pursuits.