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Australia's treatment of people in detention will be under the microscope when UN human rights investigators come to Australia in a landmark visit.

The UN Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (SPT) will be visiting Australia for 12 days from 16 Oct 2022 – 27 Oct 2022.

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NSW Gov response to 2020 ice inquiry – too little, too late

Last month, NSWCCL, Josh Pallas spoke to regional radio in Coffs Harbour and Dubbo about the Perrottet Government's response to the 2020 ice inquiry.

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Optus Data Breach a Wake-up Call

NSWCCL has long called for stronger legislation in relation to the collection, use and retention of the personal information of Australians. We welcome the comments of the Attorney General Mark Dreyfus, referring to the Optus data breach, that every corporation should only be collecting the minimum amount of data necessary for the relevant purpose.[1]

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Submission: Inquiry into the Appointment of the Former Prime Minister to Administer Multiple Departments

The NSW Council for Civil Liberties (NSWCCL) welcomes the opportunity to make a joint submission to The Hon Virginia Bell AC in response to the Inquiry into the Appointment of the Former Prime Minister to Administer Multiple Departments

NSWCCL strongly condemns the former Prime Minister Morrison's practice of secret ministerial appointments and welcome the seriousness with which Prime Minister Albanese is treating this issue. We applauded Prime Minister Albanese's announcement upon releasing the Solicitor General’s advice that his department was taking immediate steps to implement a practice of publishing in the Commonwealth Gazette future appointments of ministers to administer departments.

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Shortlist Announced for 2022 Excellence in Civil Liberties Journalism Awards

Announcing our incredible shortlisted journalists for the 2022 Excellence in Civil Liberties Journalism Awards!

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Submission: Aboriginal Cultural Heritage (Culture is Identity) Bill 2022

NSWCCL recently made a submission to the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage (Culture is Identity) Bill 2022 Inquiry. In our submission we acknowledge that this Bill is designed to better protect and support Aboriginal Cultural Heritage (ACH) and that it presents an opportunity for long overdue and meaningful changes to cultural heritage legislation. If passed, it would also effect a tangible step forward for First Nations’ justice in NSW.

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Aboriginal man dies in custody at Loddon Prison

Clinton Austin, a Gunditjmara and Wiradjuri man has recently passed aged 38 in Loddon Prison. He is the second Indigenous man to die in custody in the state of Victoria in five weeks. 

According to the count kept by NSWCCL, he is also the 500th Indigenous death in custody since the findings of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody were handed down in 1991. 

For more information, read the full article.

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7NEWS: Fingerprint Scanners installed in Public High School

NSWCCL's Stephen Blanks recently spoke to 7News regarding the installation of fingerprint scanners in Moorebank High School. These machines allow teachers to monitor which students are using the bathrooms in an attempt to stop vandalism. 

Concerns did arise however regarding consent as well as where this information was being stored. "There is no proper process of consent for gathering the data, one of the fundamental privacy principles is data shouldn't be gathered without expressed consent," Blanks said.

For more information, watch the full video

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Report from the Inquiry into the Climate Change Bill 2022

Last week the Senate Environment and Communications Legislation Committee handed down its report on the inquiry into the Climate Change Bill 2022 and Climate Change (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2022.

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Joint Statement: National Civil Society Groups condemn the actions of former PM Scott Morrison

A legislative solution is the only way to prevent secret ministerial appointments says the New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties, Liberty Victoria and South Australian Council for Civil Liberties. 

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Independent MP Andrew Wilkie on Ending Mandatory Detention

The staggered release of the Medevac refugees from long-term detention in hotels scattered across the nation, which began in December 2020 and came to a close right before this year’s election, brought a lengthy campaign to see them out to an end, Paul Gregoire reports. 

But as federal Independent MP Andrew Wilkie points out, this recent victory and others like it, such as the government finally agreeing to New Zealand’s offer to take in hundreds of refugees currently in Australia, haven’t marked the end of the brutal Sovereign Borders regime.

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Submission: Climate Change Bill 2022 and the Climate Change (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2022

NSWCCL recently made a submission to the Environment and Communications Legislation Committee regarding the Climate Change Bill 2022 and the Climate Change (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2022.

After a decade of inaction on climate change, the Climate Change Bill 2022 (Bill) represents welcome
progress. While we support the Bill as an improvement on business as usual, it is our view that:

  • the target it enshrines in law is woefully inadequate; and
  • beyond setting a target, the Bill fails to do any work towards achieving that target.

This said, through a few amendments the Bill has potential to provide a proper bedrock for Australia’s
ability to respond to the climate emergency and contribute towards the goals of the Paris Agreement.

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NSW Police Claim Ignorance of the Law, As They Continue to Illegally Strip-Search Kids

More than 4,000 strip searches were carried out in New South Wales between July 2020 and May 2022 with data recently released under freedom of information laws revealing that of the strip searches conducted in that period, more than 100 children were searched, including a 13-year-old, Sydney Criminal Lawyers reports. 

A major concern is that police have ‘targets’ in relation to strip searches, which in itself could potentially lead officers to feel under pressure to overlook their legal responsibility – which states that they must have a ‘reasonable suspicion’ in order to conduct a strip search – in favour of ‘meeting quotas’. 

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Australia tightens its national sexual assault laws

Australian state governments are tightening the laws surrounding sexual assault, introducing affirmative consent and the criminalisation of stealthing across the nation.

Over the course of the last two years, Australian laws pertaining to consent have been consistently debated and reformed, and the act of stealthing ­– the removal of a condom during sex without obtaining consent – has been at the forefront.

Stealthing is not a new concept, particularly to women, as the current research shows one in three Australian women have been victim to stealthing at least once in their lives.

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Sydney Criminal Lawyers: Prison Guard Charged with Murder of Aboriginal Detainee

The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) NSW announced on 10 August that it was applying to the NSW Supreme Court to have a charge laid against a Corrective Services NSW (CSNSW) officer, who shot a Wiradjuri man in the back, upgraded from manslaughter to murder.

To charge a prison guard with the murder of a First Nations detainee is unprecedented in Australia. Indeed, charging the prison guard with manslaughter in relation to the death in February last year was already a first in itself.

“This development means that there’s substantial evidence that the corrective officer involved had the intent to murder,” said Paul Silva, whose been campaigning for reform around Aboriginal deaths in custody since his uncle died at Long Bay Gaol in 2015.

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2022 Annual Dinner - Announcing a stellar line up

We are honoured to have special guests the Hon. Linda Burney MP, Minister for Indigenous Australians and Thomas Mayor, a signatory to Uluru Statement from the Heart, as our special guests our 2022 Annual NSW Council for Civil Liberties Dinner. Join us to listen and learn about the importance of Voice, Treaty and Truth and the momentous opportunity this presents for our nation and our organisation to support this important campaign.

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Prof Jenny Hocking: ‘Scott Morrison’s ministerial fetish: ”An unprecedented trashing of our democracy”’

Scott Morrison must resign immediately as the member for Cook, leave the Parliament, and try to salvage what remains of his shredded reputation as Australia’s 30th Prime Minister writes Prof Jenny Hocking.

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NSWCCL: Missed opportunity to reform and futureproof the Legislation Act 2003.

The Commonwealth Government has completed its 2021-2022 review of the Legislation Act 2003. NSWCCL provided a submission to the review and continues to hold the view that the recommendations of the committee could have and should have gone much further.

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NSW Law Reform Commission Report Tabled

The NSW Law Reform Commission (LRC) recently tabled in the NSW Parliament Report 149 - Open Justice: Court and tribunal information: access, disclosure and publication.

The report makes 156 recommendations dealing with the operation of NSW court suppression and non-publication orders and access to information in NSW courts and tribunals. It is informed by the principles that, open justice is fundamental to the integrity of the administration; exceptions to access should be minimal and necessary to protect certain sensitive information, vulnerable people and the administration of justice; and the power and discretion of the judiciary, to control court proceedings and to determine open justice issues, should be preserved to the maximum extent possible.

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Submission: Consultations with NGOs in consultative status with ECOSOC

NSWCCL is a Non-Government Organisation in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC). We sought this special status because we believe that NGOs provide meaningful contributions to the work of ECOSOC by ensuring that states are accountable in their reports to the body. NGOs also augment state reports and call out poor state conduct through their ability to speak from experiences which are closer to the ground and embedded within states.  

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