Civil and human rights

This Group covers a broad range of civil liberties and human rights issues, focussing on those that don’t naturally fall 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 also track Australia's human rights violations.

A current focus area is our right to protest

Protests should be subject to the same limits as commercial events

Update 29 October: The below limits are still in place with an additional 1000 person cap on COVID safe community sports (latest updates here).

Under the latest Public Health Order, protests are limited to 50 people - or 200 if the protest is COVID safe.

Meanwhile, ticketed events of up to 3000 people are permitted.

Our right to protest should not be limited in this way: if it's safe for 3000 people to attend commercial events, larger COVID-safe protests are surely safe too.

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Media release: 21 community organisations unite on harmful education bill

A diverse group of community organisations has come together once again to continue efforts to stop One Nation from harming our education system and the wellbeing of our children.

In our joint media release, we condemn the inquiry into the Bill, which was run by Mark Latham himself in an abuse of democratic process. 

We are fighting One Nation's Education Legislation Amendment (Parental Rights) Bill 2020 because it is:

  • discriminatory and cruel.

  • incompatible with existing laws and protections.

  • injurious to fundamental human rights, including freedom of expression.

  • harmful to teachers, students and education in NSW.

  • unnecessary and, in some areas, incoherent.

More information:




Letter: Delayed discharge of isolating COVID patients

According to an ABC report, people who have tested positive for COVID are being forced to stay inside their homes for weeks longer than the typical 14-day isolation period because of delays in paperwork, according to a member of a NSW public health call centre in a Sydney hotspot. 

We wrote to Health Minister Brad Hazzard about this and our concerns about vaccine passports.

More information: Read our letter to the Health Minister


A Human Rights Act for Australia

NSWCCL wrote to the Leader of the Opposition Anthony Albanese and the Shadow Attorney General Mark Dreyfus to support the commitment in Labor’s national platform to review the Human Rights Framework established by previous Labor governments and consider whether it could be enhanced through a statutory charter of human rights or other similar instrument. We called for a commitment to that review in the first hundred days of the next Labor government as a catalyst to reform Australia’s ethical infrastructure.

More information: read our letter


Common Ground: open letter condemning inappropriate policing & unlawful searches

NSWCCL joins Amnesty International, LONSW, Shelter and TUNSW in condemning the inappropriate policing and unlawful searches imposed on residents of Common Ground in Camperdown. We stand in solidarity with the residents in lockdown. Below is our joint open letter - also published on the Legal Observers NSW website

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Latham Inquiry makes a mockery of the committee process

NSWCCL condemns the report of the NSW Legislative Council inquiry into Mark Latham and One Nation’s so-called ‘Parental Rights’ Bill (the Education Legislation Amendment (Parental Rights) Bill 2020) released on the 7th of September. NSWCCL made a submission and gave oral evidence to the inquiry. 

At the time, we said “NSWCCL considers that the Bill should not be passed. Not a single aspect of the Bill improves upon the law as it currently stands in NSW. Moreover, the Bill is an appalling contribution to public debate and education policy in this State.… The Bill:

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The 'National Cabinet' should not be above scrutiny

On Thursday, in a blatant and cynical attempt to avoid transparency, the Government introduced a Bill that gives National Cabinet the status of a 'Cabinet' - meaning that the PMO can now keep its deliberations secret. This nullifies a recent finding by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) that the ‘National Cabinet’ was not a cabinet in any real sense of the word, so key documents should be released.

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Voluntary Assisted Dying - it's time, NSW

Nobody should have to suffer unbearable pain and loss of control and dignity at the end of their lives - but that's exactly what happens in NSW. We need to change that.

There is overwhelming support for voluntary assisted dying (VAD) in Australia. Victoria, Western Australia, Tasmania and South Australia have already passed VAD laws and a VAD bill is expected to pass in Queensland in September.

Independent MP Alex Greenwich is due to introduce a VAD Bill into NSW Parliament in 2021 - we need to make sure it's passed.

How can I help?

NSWCCL is part of the Dying with Dignity alliance - you can help the campaign by:

  • Signing the VAD alliance petition (link no longer available) 
  • Adding your message for the field of hearts that will be placed in the grass in the Domain behind parliament house
  • Following and supporting the campaign on social: DWD Facebook or DWD Twitter
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Landmark legal victory on climate change

In a welcome landmark victory in the NSW Land and Environment Court today, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been ordered to take action on climate change. This is the first time a government organisation has been compelled to act on climate change in accordance with a statutory duty in Australia.

The court found that the EPA's statutory duties include a duty to develop objectives, guidelines and policies to ensure the protection of the environment from climate change, and that it had not fulfilled its duty to protect the state’s environment. 

It may come as a surprise to many that the EPA currently does not have specific policies in place to mitigate greenhouse gas pollution, one of the most dangerous forms of pollution in the long term.

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Climate: what will it take for our Government to act?

Newspaper headlines across the world echoed the words of UN Secretary-General António Guterres yesterday, announcing code red for humanity as the IPCC released its bleak Sixth Assessment Report on climate change. Meanwhile, Australia's status as a pariah nation, whose policies preclude an invitation to global summits, was cemented recently by news that a UN endorsed report ranked Australia "dead last in the world for climate action".

The IPCC report's conclusions - that human activities are unequivocally causing climate change and that urgent, concerted action is needed to limit that change to 1.5°C warming - are as alarming as they are unsurprising. Equally unsurprising was the Australian Government's response: denial and obfuscation.

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