The Executive of seven officers and two other committee members is elected each year. 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


Therese Cochran


Therese Cochran became a Vice President in October 2019. Therese has served several terms as the Secretary of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties between 2015 and 2019. Therese is a lawyer who has studied and worked in Australia and Europe. Her work in private practice and in-house has been in banking and finance. 

She has been interested in human rights and civil liberties since university and has participated in various organisations and campaigns over the years. Her focus is the treatment of asylum seekers (particularly children), maintenance of the rule of law and privacy.

She has undergraduate degrees in economics and law from the University of Sydney and a Masters Degree in law from the University of Cambridge. Therese is a graduate member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. 

 Vice President 


Dr Eugene Schofield-Georgeson 



Eugene was elected as Vice President in October 2018. Eugene is a law academic. He has practised criminal and labour law for over 10 years and has written a book on the history of criminal law and a range of articles. 

After convening the civil rights action group for a number of years and writing numbers of submissions on a range of human rights issues, he now convenes the police, justice and mental health action group. Eugene is an active member of the CCL Executive and General Committees.

His current work focuses on the evolution of civil rights and liberties in New South Wales and the numerous incursions against these liberties through ‘law and order’ politics since the mid-1980s. Eugene’s recent scholarship has examined the partial criminalisation of trade unions, limitations on legal rights for public defendants, including Aboriginal people, as well as the ways in which social inequality impacts on the unequal realisation of civil rights and liberties'

 Vice President

Rebecca McMahon 


Rebecca McMahon was elected Vice President in 2019. Rebecca is a criminal defence lawyer practising on the mid-north coast of NSW and in Sydney. She has previously held positions at the NSW DPP, NSW Legal Aid Commission and the Aboriginal Legal Service. She has lectured in Criminal Law, Evidence & Social Justice at the University of NSW and has attained a Masters of Crime and Criminology from UNSW as well as co-authoring the Evidence law text, ‘The Trial’, Hunter et al, Federation Press. Rebecca has lectured in legal advocacy at Tranby Aboriginal College as well as teaching Sentencing at Charles Sturt University.

Rebecca is interested in contributing to law reform, particularly in the areas of criminal law and mental health and is committed to advocating for the rights of vulnerable people within the criminal justice system. She is co-chair of the Bar Book Project and a member of the Law Society’s criminal law committee.




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


Dr Lesley Lynch


Dr Lesley Lynch was elected Assistant Secretary in October 2019. Lesley joined NSWCCL in 2006 because the escalating attacks on civil liberties post 9/11 made it the obvious site for renewed activism. Lesley was elected Assistant Secretary in 2007, Secretary in 2013 and Vice President 2015 - October 2019.   

Lesley has a history of political activism in anti-war and anti-apartheid campaigns, gay liberation and the women’s liberation movement.  Professionally she has been a school teacher, university teacher and researcher in history and politics and, from the 1980s a public servant.  As a member of the senior executive service she worked closely with a number of ministers on strategy and policy issues and was the chair or member of state and national boards and committees. In 2004-5 she worked on AusAid programs in PNG

Within CCL she has been active on policy issues including national security counter-terrorism and the surveillance state, electoral processes, protest rights, effective anti-corruption bodies at state and federal levels and decriminalisation of abortion. She has been convenor of the Privacy and Freedom of Information and the Justice group and, from 2012-14, the National ASIO Campaign. Lesley is currently convener of the National Security and Counter Terrorism Action Group and works with civil liberties bodies across Australia to collaborate on national responses to the veritable tsunami of national security/counter terrorism laws and other national issues.  

Lesley has also been engaged in the organisational and administrative aspects of CCL's work including the annual dinner, the interns/volunteers program  and the development of the current website. In recent years she has worked with other committee members to drive renewal and organisational change within NSWCCL. 

Lesley has a BA (hons), Dip Ed and PhD in History from Sydney University.



Other committee members