Past Events

Challenges in establishing a federal integrity commission - Melbourne University

Our president Pauline Wright spoke to the 'Administrative Challenges in Practice' class at Melbourne University on the 30th of March 2022 discussing the challenges in establishing a federal integrity commission.

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The case for a Federal ICAC - National Press Club of Australia

Our President Pauline Wright spoke to the National Press Club of Australia in Canberra on the 1st of December 2021 arguing for a federal Independent Commission Against Corruption.

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2021 Annual fundraiser & awards

And the winners were:

  • Excellence in civil liberties journalism - open: 
    Paul Gregoire 
  • Excellence in civil liberties journalism - young journalist: 
    Kate Allman
  • The Kafka award for the most egregious public statements or acts offensive to civil liberties and human rights:
    Clubs NSW for demanding via their lawyers that an ex-employee whistleblower facing financial ruin over court costs stop crowd funding to finance his court case and return donations already received - or face further court action.
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Rule of Law webathon

Black Lives Matter - an Australian perspective

NSWCCL hosted Australia's contribition to the International Rule Of Law Webathon on Weds 5 May 2021. You can view our session with others from around the world on YouTube here:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCmsQriH1wcIYhwON5ncdUuQ

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NSWCCL 2020 Fundraiser: First Nations justice webinar

NSWCCL’s online First Nations justice panel discussion was held on 11 September 2020, and featured Judge Myers AM, Sarah Hopkins, Teela Reid and NSWCCL President Nicholas Cowdery AO QC. Our panelists generously shared their knowledge, expertise and heart in speaking about over-incarceration of Indigenous Australians, systemic racism, 'just' policing, the Uluru Statement from the Heart and the black lives matter movement.

The panel discussion was a call to action in relation to the implementation of the recommendations of the ALRC’s report “Pathways to Justice”, including a focus on the crucial need for a commitment to justice reinvestment and specialty courts (such as the Walama Court in NSW).

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Review: 2019 Annual General Meeting

The 56th Annual General Meeting of the New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties (NSWCCL) was held at the Sydney Town Hall Council Chamber, George Street Sydney on Wednesday 23rd October.

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Review: 2019 NSWCCL Annual Dinner

Thank you to those who joined us and supported this year's NSWCCL Annual Dinner. The room was filled with hundreds of guests; civil libertarians, rights defenders and guardians of democracy.

We were delighted to be joined by Ita Buttrose AO OBE who delivered this year's keynote address. 

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Inaugural Awards for Civil Liberties Journalism 2019

(Photo L to R, Kate Allman, Richard Ackland, Paul Farrell and 2019 NSWCCL President Pauline Wright)

The 2019 NSWCCL Annual Dinner (held on September 10th) was marked by the presentation of the Council’s Inaugural Awards for Excellence in Civil Liberties Journalism. Two awards were presented for an article or series of articles, or a radio, television or podcast presentation, promoting civil liberties. One award was for young journalists under the age of 30, and the other an Open award. Criteria for the awards included both the excellence of individual items and, particularly in this inaugural year, the significance of a sustained body of work. The judging panel was drawn from Journalism, Academia, and the Law.

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2018 NSWCCL Annual Dinner

On the occasion of the five year anniversary of Human Rights Watch in Australia, Elaine Pearson, Director, Human Rights Watch Australia, delivered the Keynote address at NSWCCL's 2018 Annual Dinner.

Elaine and Human Rights Watch are defenders of human rights in the Australian context. Their work overlaps and complements much of the work of civil bodies around Australia. Human Rights Watch bring global focus to their analysis of the many deeply disturbing developments currently threatening democracy, freedoms and civil society in Australia.

 

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NSWCCL Annual Dinner 2017 - a message for Peter Dutton?

NSWCCL held its annual dinner last Friday night to celebrate 54 years of civil liberties advocacy and to raise funds for its ongoing work. Around 260 members and supporters were present to celebrate and to hear speeches from two luminaries of the Australian legal fraternity – the Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG and Bret Walker SC.

The gathering was, as usual, a fabulously diverse one including civil libertarian and human rights supporters from many walks of life and activists and advocates deeply engaged in current related causes.   

There was a stronger legal contingent than usual, including a goodly number of current or past judges of the High Court, and the Federal and Supreme courts and senior counsels, the President of the NSW Law Society and senior members of the NSW Bar Association - presumably drawn by the stellar legal profile of the speakers.

There were also leading trade unionists, politicians past and present, senior bureaucrats, teachers and academics, journalists and numbers of community and human rights groups. 

Most significantly – the gathering included a large number of students and younger civil libertarian supporters. This is heartening for obvious reasons – and, in so far as it reflects the presence and growing influence of younger civil libertarians on the CCL Committee and Executive – it foreshadows a transition already underway in the focus of CCL to civil liberties issues of concern to young people and new approaches to advocacy.   

The highlight of the evening was of course the speeches. 

 

The President's message

CCL President Stephen Blanks recalled some of the major issues facing Australians in the past year which had ‘struck deep civil liberties chords’.  These encompassed counter-terrorism, indigenous recognition, human rights abuses on Nauru and Manus Island and with NT youth detention, prospective detention / administrative detention, citizenship qualifications for Australian parliament, privacy and government mass surveillance.

Stephen warned that each of these issues ‘eats away at our democracy and makes it more fragile’. 

Among the few wins of the past year he flagged the recent striking down by the High Court of the Tasmanian anti Protest Laws and the huge public affirmation of marriage equality – and the now likely passage of the Victorian euthanasia legislation.

For the future, Stephen suggested the forthcoming debate around the passage of the marriage equality legislation might provide some opportunity for a renewed focus on general human rights legislation – if, that is, we can counteract the push for religious-specific protections with the dangerous possibility of unwinding current anti-discrimination protections in Australia. We will also explore the implications of the High Court decision on the Tasmanian protest laws for a challenge to the appalling anti- protest and 'public safety' laws introduced in NSW this year. 

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