60 Years Strong - 2023 Annual Dinner and Excellence in Civil Liberties Journalism Awards

We again 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 share her time so generously with us on our 60th birthday party!

We also thank the Hon Dr Meredith Burgmann for hosting our dinner. Meredith is a long time member of the Council and a constant defender of human rights and civil liberties.

Craig Foster, activist, human rights campaigner and Co-Chair of the Australian Republican Movement delivered a call to action in his keynote address to take on the big miners - “We cannot open any more coal and gas projects if we want to save our planet,” Foster said. “We need a just transition and we need it now. Our governments are not listening to us, so we need mass civil disobedience to stop them. Who will take part in this?”

It was wonderful to award this years Excellence in Civil Liberties Journalism Awards to Eden Gillespie (Young Journalist) and Christopher Knaus and Nino Bucci (Open Category). Eden broke the news that Brisbane Watchhouse officers were consistently racist and sexist which forced the Queensland government to investigate. Eden paid tribute to the bravery of officer Steven Marshall and said whistleblowers, including journalists, need protection and have the right to protect their sources.

Journalists Christopher Knaus and Nino Bucci won the 2023 Open Category award. Their series of stories detailed officials from the Department of Home Affairs demanding independent researchers alter a report critical of counterterrorism powers. The powers allow individuals to be imprisoned for a crime they had not committed. This series detailed the government's attempts to cover the report up.

We were very proud to launch our documentary project “60 Years Strong” on the night. Ten wonderful NSWCCL members from across the 60 years tell our story in individual interviews. We know that the right to free speech, the right to come together in peaceful assembly and to protest against unfair and unjust laws is essential to a functioning democracy. Supporting non-violent, direct action is a hallmark of the Council’s work.

Telling the stories of those who came before us, demonstrates to the wider community that while the fight to protect civil liberties will always be difficult, it can be won. 

Photo's from the annual dinner are available here.