NSWCCL Key Work Areas

Policy issues


Civil and human rights

This Group has a very broad remit, covering a range of civil liberties and human rights issues, and sometimes overlapping with other groups. It tends to focus on human rights issues not naturally falling within the other groups. Priority areas in the last few years have included: a Human Rights Act for NSW, along with the ongoing campaign for an Australian Charter of Rights; climate justice; LGBTIQ+ rights, women’s rights; anti-discrimination law; freedom of expression; and achieving better and more democratic governance through balanced and effective anti-corruption bodies and reform of the framework for delegated legislation. We have also had a focus of late on your right to protest which has been threatened during the pandemic as never before. We see the right to protest as fundamental to our democracy. Only after tireless, sustained protest did Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people win the right to vote, did LGBT+ people achieve marriage equality, and did unions secure the eight hour work day. Right now, the right to protest is vital for minority groups and supporters who continue to rally against state violence and injustice. Historically, overturning injustice of this kind requires incredible public momentum and visibility, which can only be sustained through protest. State and Federal Governments have a democratic responsibility to facilitate safe and peaceful protests in accordance with their obligations under international law.

Criminal justice & police powers

This group focuses on the laws, policies and practices relating to the criminal justice system, police powers, and the legal rights of persons with mental illness.  In broad terms the group advocates for the protection of the fundamental rights and liberties of citizens (including the presumption of innocence and the right to a fair trial) in the justice system. These liberties and rights are currently under pressure from governments.


First Nations justice

Indigenous people are shamefully over-policed and the most incarcerated people on earth, making Indigenous justice a priority for the NSWCCL since its inception in 1963. In 1964 NSWCCL supported Aboriginal rights campaigner Ken Brindle in a civil case against a Newtown police officer that saw him win £400 damages plus costs for malicious prosecution. 

The treatment of our First Nations people remains nothing short of shocking today and reconciliation is an urgent priority for Australia. This group's concerns include over-incarceration and deaths in custody; a treaty with the Indigenous people of NSW and, at a national level, the implementation of the 2017 Uluru Statement from the Heart


Free speech, media freedoms, privacy & whistleblowing

Core concerns for this group are protecting free speech and free media from unwarranted censorship and constraint and promoting open government and whistle-blower protection.

The extraordinary growth in technological capacity in the digital age has transformed the reach of surveillance and the capacity for governments and corporations to collect, store and analyse vast quantities of personal information.  The right to privacy is seriously threatened. Priorities include reform of the Privacy Act 1988; strong regulation of digital and emerging technologies such as AI and biometrics; advocacy for a personal privacy tort; and strong privacy policies regulating use of sophisticated surveillance technology.  

The group also grapples with complex issues posed by the spread of web based social media and the tensions between free speech, access to information, privacy and the ‘right to be forgotten’.

Meanwhile, governments are winding back their commitment to open government and systematically undermining whistle-blower protections. A priority for this group is to resist and reverse these trends.


National security and counter-terrorism


NSWCCL has consistently engaged with the Australian Government‘s responses to the threat of terrorism since 9/11 and the Bali nightclub bombing in 2002. The sheer volume of new legislation in this area has been extraordinary - such that Australia has the most extensive body of such laws in the western democratic world.

Some of these laws are appropriate and necessary responses to terrorist and other threats to public safety but a disturbingly high proportion of legislation in this area has been driven more by short term electoral politics. Many of the laws now in place are unnecessary and excessive and seriously undermine core liberties and rights and pose a significant real threat to democracy. They routinely include extraordinary provisions that would have been inconceivable and unacceptable  pre 9/11.  There is no indication that this hyper-legislating trend around counter-terrorism and national security issues is exhausted. And there is a dangerous trend for spill-over of the extraordinary legal provisions from C-T and national security areas to general criminal and border protection law.

It is difficult for CCL and civil society bodies to respond effectively to the volume of new legislation and policies and the determined consensus on almost all national security issues across the major parties undermines the capacity for robust critical analysis of such legislation in the Parliament.   Consequently neither civil society nor Parliament have  been able to stop or significantly amend much in this now large body of law.

This group covers counter-terrorism and national security laws and policies including surveillance and data collection, secrecy and foreign influence laws, the powers of and oversight of intelligence and security agencies and - in recent times-the role of the Department of Home Affairs.



Organisational issues


The communications group manages the CCL website including its people database, publishes our web content manages social media sites  and builds linkages with external media. The group's continuing priorities are to improve our communication with our members and supporters, expand the NSWCCL’s utilisation of digital content and social media, and, as an overall strategic priority, improve its digital campaign skills. 


Fundraising and Events


Apart from membership fees, CCL is dependent on its own fundraising to support its work. Activities planned for this year include a celebratory party for the awarding honorary life membership to Cameron Murphy, several parliamentary lunches and the annual civil liberties dinner. Priorities include attracting donations to support major campaign activities.


Membership and Supporters


The core focus of this group is to build the membership and supporter base for CCL and to expand opportunities for their engagement with and involvement in the work of CCL.


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