2022 Annual Dinner and Excellence in Civil Liberties Journalism Awards

We thank Councillor Yvonne Weldon for taking the time to attend our dinner to Welcome us on behalf of the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council. It was an honour to have Cl Weldon join us on Gadigal Country and invite us to work with the local Aboriginal community in the important work that is do be done to bring about positive change through truth telling and a First Nations Voice to Parliament.

We also thank Senator The Hon. Jenny McAllister for attending our dinner and introducing Mr Mayo.  Senator McAllister has been a long time friend of NSWCCL and constant defender of human rights and civil liberties.

This year our committee decided that the Council should use our Annual Dinner as a platform to publicly endorse both the Uluru Statement from the Heart and a YES vote in the upcoming referendum enshrining a First Nations voice to the Parliament.

What better way to do this than invite Thomas Mayo, Torres Strait Islander man born in Garramilla (Darwin) and a passionate advocate for the Uluru Statement to deliver our keynote.

Mr Mayo said “I know I’m among friends here tonight. I invite you to walk with us in a movement of the Australian people for a better future.”

Forged from more than two centuries of hardship and struggle, the Uluru Statement gives hope to a nation born from many nations, that we may find our collective heart.

"One of the lessons learnt, one of the lessons that go into the Uluru statement, among many, is that every time we’ve had these aspirational moments, every time our people have come together and proposed something so generous that it shouldn’t be ignored, the powers that be have always dismissed us. That is why the Uluru Statement is addressed to you, the Australian people.”

Forged from more than two centuries of hardship and struggle, the Uluru Statement gives hope to a nation born from many nations, that we may find our collective heart.

The central question Mr Mayo posed to us from a civil liberties perspective was “What happens when people don’t have a voice?”

Mr Mayo spoke about post 2005 and the disbandment of ATSIC by former Prime Minister John Howard. The suspension of the racial discrimination act in the Northern Territory and the devastating impact of the Northern Territory Intervention.  He described how it felt when the Prime Minster turned the Australian army in against its most vulnerable citizens.

Mr Mayo said “he (Prime Minister Howard) announced to the rest of the country that the social issues in those communities that were the result of colonisation, from failed policies and cruelties, he announced that these were an Aboriginal problem. We saw hundreds of millions of dollars cut from community services, from health and legal services, we saw money that had been budgetted for Aborigianl Services given to non-indigenous organisations to fight against land rights. These are the things that happen when we don’t have a Voice. So, there’s a great urgency for us to re-establish a voice so that we can influence decisions in parliament that impact us.”

We are going to have an opportunity at the ballot box – at the upcomping referendum to say YES. Mr Mayor left us with the following words.

“I hope going forward that you will join us and put your collective shoulders to the wheel and do the work that it will take to win this. A majority of people for a long time have been saying that they support this, but that is a soft support, there are a lot of smart people in this room with influence – we need you to do everything you can to beat our greatest enemy in this campaign and that’s confusion. So please, get out there, start working, building this campaign in all your workplaces, in all of your suburbs because we must win this!”

2022 Awards for Excellence in Civil Liberties Journalism

Judges Professor Chris Nash, Jacqueline Maley and Josh Pallas had their work cut out for them this year determining the winners in the 2022 Excellence in Civil Liberties Journalism Awards. Chris noted in his speech that there is no difference in the criteria between the open and young journalist categories and indeed, that either winner could have been interchanged, they were both exceptional.

The winner in the young journalist category for 2022 was Amber Schultz. Amber wrote a series of fourteen stories for Crikey on the role of the public trustee and guardianship arrangements across a number of states. This  powerful body of work involved serious, forensic research which unveiled multiple problems with the public trustee. Amber said it was very rewarding to speak to a community of vulnerable people and be able to expose the systematic wrongs happening to older people within this group. 

Amber thanked Crikey for supporting her to do this important work. We thank and congratulate Amber for her extraordinary contributions and look forward to what comes next!

For the Open category we congratulate Michael Roddan from Australian Financial Review for his detailed examination of the politics underpinning attacks on state-based integrity commissions in South Australian and Queensland and then moving to examine the what was happening at that point in the federal sphere. Over a series of six articles Michael undertook a forensic investigation that involved speaking with a wide range of sources drilling down into the politics driving the responses to integrity in each of these jurisdictions. Congratulations Michael.


Thank you Charles!

NSWCCL would also like to thank our generous and quite frankly hilarious friend, Charles Firth, for literally picking up the gravel and hosting our dinner. Not only did Charles keep us on track, on time and on topic, he raised substantial funds for the council through his expert capabilities as an auctioneer. Thank you Charles, we love your work!

If you would like to get more involved in defending humn rights and protecting civil liberties - please join us and/or consider making a donation.

Feel free to visit the gallery from our annual dinner and download your snaps.