NSWCCL Executive

The Executive officers are elected each year at the NSWCCL AGM. The Executive conducts business in between Committee meetings. 



Josh Pallas was elected as President in May 2022. He was re-elected Vice President in 2021, having been elected to the committee in 2016, and served as Vice President from October 2017-2019. In 2019, Josh represented NSWCCL at the Human Rights Council in Geneva. He is a PhD Candidate at the University of Sydney Law School researching in the areas of criminal law and criminal legal theory. He was previously a Senior Solicitor at the Crown Solicitor’s Office in the Inquiries and Criminal Law Division and a criminal, family and human rights lawyer at Levitt Robinson Solicitors. Josh holds undergraduate Law, Politics and Philosophy degrees from the University of Wollongong and a Master of Laws from UNSW.  Josh has published in the areas of criminal law, international criminal law, human rights and jurisprudence and taught a number of subjects across law and international relations at the University of Wollongong. He has also volunteered with Inner City Legal Centre and the International Humanitarian Law Department at Australian Red Cross.


Sarah Baker


Sarah was elected Secretary in June 2022 having served as assistant Secretary since October 2020. Sarah has been a member of NSW CCL since Sept 2019. In the UK, Sarah earned a Bachelor Degree in Business Economics and Accounting as well as further qualifications in accounting. Her corporate career has focussed primarily in the Healthcare sector, latterly with a specific focus on M&A transactions. She currently enjoys supporting and guiding entrepreneurs through a Sydney Angel group as well as managing various investments of her own.

Sarah has always had a keen interest in civil liberties. However, her interest piqued when she noticed the stark differences between the UK and Australia when she settled here over 20 years ago. Notably in Australia, the criminalisation of abortion, lack of human rights legislation and substandard refugee treatment. 

Vice President

Lydia Shelly

Lydia became Vice President of NSWCCL in January 2021. Lydia is admitted as a solicitor with the Supreme Court of New South Wales and the High Court of Australia. She is a practicing solicitor and joined the committee in 2014. She is concerned over the erosion of fundamental legal principles with the introduction of further counter-terrorism legislation, as well as the implications for social cohesion and human rights.

Lydia has presented evidence at several Parliamentary inquiries into proposed laws relating to criminal offences and counter terrorism, including the Counter-Terrorism Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 1) 2014 and the Counter-Terrorism Legislation Amendment (Foreign Fighters) Bill. 

She is also concerned over Australia’s treatment of Asylum Seekers and the politicisation of Refugees, as well as Australia's engagement in military operations overseas.

She believes that a Bill of Rights for all Australians is long overdue and necessary to ensure civil liberties and human rights are protected.



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

 Michelle Falstein


Michelle acted as Secretary from October 2019 to June 2022 and has stepped down to act as assistant Secretary as of June 2022. 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 a 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.


Immediate Past President

Pauline Wright

Pauline resigned from the Presidency of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties in May 2022. She had returned as President  in January 2021 after her term as President of the Law Council of Australia. Pauline was also President of NSWCCL from October 2018 - October 2019, having been actively involved with the council since 1988 and including service as Vice President for a number of years. Pauline graduated in Arts Law in 1985 from Macquarie University. She was admitted as a Solicitor of the Supreme Court of New South Wales in 1985 and has been in private practice since then and is a principal of PJ Donnellan & Co Solicitors in Gosford. She is an accredited specialist in Local Government and Planning Law and a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. 

Pauline has previously served as the President of the Law Society of NSW during 2017, having served on the Council of the Law Society almost continuously since 1997. She chairs the Environmental Planning & Development Law committee and is Deputy Chair of the Future Committee. Pauline has also been President of the Central Coast Chapter of the Urban Development Institute of Australia (NSW Division).

Appointed to the Executive of the Law Council of Australia, Pauline sits on the LCA’s Access to Justice, National Criminal Law Liaison and Equality of Opportunity in the Law committees. She is also a past Director of the Law and Justice Foundation and the Legal Aid Commission of NSW, chairs Legal Aid’s Monitoring Committee and has sat on a number of panel selection committees for Legal Aid as well as its Human Rights committee.


Other committee members