2020-21 Executive

The Executive officers are elected each year at the NSWCCL AGM. The Executive conducts business in between Committee meetings. Read about the Committee Members HERE.


Nicholas Cowdery AO, QC



Nicholas Cowdery AO, QC, became the President in October 2019. A barrister, Nick was the Director of Public Prosecutions for the Australian state of New South Wales from 1994 to 2011. Nick also served as President of the International Association of Prosecutors from 1999 to 2005.

Mr Cowdery was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in June 2003, and an Officer of the Order in June 2019 in recognition of his distinguished service to the law, to the protection of human rights, to professional legal bodies, and to the community. 


Michelle Falstein


Michelle was elected Secretary in October 2019, and reappointed in 2020. Michelle has practiced as a solicitor in Sydney’s CBD for over 30 years and has Bachelors degrees, in Arts/Law (UNSW) and Science (USYD), and a Masters in Environmental Law (USYD). She rejoined NSWCCL in 2016; was appointed to the committee in 2018; and is currently the convenor of the Privacy committee.

Michelle has always had a strong interest in civil rights and law reform, particularly the decriminalisation of abortion. Her submissions have dealt with privacy issues in the My Health Record, Identity Matching Services, the Non-consensual Sharing of Intimate Images and mandatory drug testing for welfare recipients.

 Vice President


Jared Wilk 

Jared was elected to the NSWCCL Committee in early 2019, after a productive internship period with the Council. He has a longstanding interest in the protection of civil liberties and human rights in Australia and abroad. He has a Bachelor of International and Global Studies and is in the latter stages of completing his Law degree from The University of Sydney. He has worked or volunteered for a range of organisations in the social justice, community and legal sectors.



Stephen Blanks


Stephen Blanks became Treasurer of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties in October 2018, having served as President since 2013 and previously as Secretary since 2005.  Stephen has been a solicitor since 1985, and has a small legal practice located in Rozelle, Sydney.

Stephen has been a member of NSWCCL since 1993.  He was prompted to join when acting for a book publisher who had published a book about corruption and a NSW Government agency wrote to all major booksellers demanding that they not sell the book.  NSWCCL was vital in obtaining publicity for the publisher, leading to a speedy withdrawal of the demands.

Stephen’s particular civil liberty interests include asylum seekers, free speech, privacy and racial vilification. 

Although Stephen’s legal practice is primarily commercially focussed, Stephen has over the years taken on many legal cases involving civil liberties issues, including unpopular cases involving asylum seekers, protesters, paedophiles and people smugglers.

An important part of Stephen’s involvement in civil liberties is supervising Australian and foreign students undertaking internships.


Assistant Secretary

Sarah Baker


Sarah was elected assistant Secretary in October 2020 having joined as a member of NSW CCL in Sept 2019. In the UK, Sarah earned a Bachelor Degree in Business Economics and Accounting as well as further qualifications in accounting. Her corporate career has focussed primarily in the Healthcare sector, latterly with a specific focus on M&A transactions. She currently enjoys supporting and guiding entrepreneurs through a Sydney Angel group as well as managing various investments of her own.

Sarah has always had a keen interest in civil liberties. However, her interest piqued when she noticed the stark differences between the UK and Australia when she settled here over 20 years ago. Notably in Australia, the criminalisation of abortion, lack of human rights legislation and substandard refugee treatment. 


Other committee members