The NSW Council for Civil Liberties (NSWCCL) welcomes the long-overdue review of the NSW Anti-Discrimination Act 1977. In its nearly 50-year history, this legislation has had only one review, the recommendations of which were not fully implemented.
In our submission, the NSWCCL provides tangible recommendations that would ensure the Act is modernised to make it simpler and more efficient but also to ensure it reflects changing community attitudes.
Particularly concerning is the recently passed Religious Vilification Bill as an amendment to the Act. We believe that the Anti-Discrimination Act should protect individuals from vilification but not institutions and not beliefs, which are just ideas, and should be freely contestable. The Religious Vilification Bill unacceptably impedes on freedom of expression, debate, and legitimate criticism and should be immediately repealed.Read more
The NSW police have had four fatal interactions with people in as many months, with the tragic death of Krista Kach death being the most recent. Almost half of all deaths or serious injuries in NSW police operations are linked to mental
Responding to mental health crises is a health issue that requires a health focused approach. Mental health professionals should be at the forefront of providing services to people in mental health distress, including those who pose a risk of harm to themselves or others.Read more
On September 20th, NSW Council for Civil Liberties celebrated its 60th birthday, with over 250 people in attendence including NSW Supreme Court judges, solicitors and barristers in the community sector and private firms, journalists and activists.
The event was MCed by Meredith Burgmann, a former Labor president of the New South Wales Legislative Council, and featured keynote speaker Craig Foster, a former Socceroo captain, former SBS journalist and author of Fighting for Hakeem, who criticised Australia’s growing inequality. “We cannot open any more coal and gas projects if we want to save our planet,” Foster said. “We need a just transition and we need it now. Our governments are not listening to us, so we need mass civil disobedience to stop them. Who will take part in this?”
The documentary Sixty Years Strong, remembering the councils history and honouring the activists who founded the Council, was also launched.Read more
Journalism matters, a healthy and trusted press is an essential pillar to any democracy. Since 2019 we have recognised journalists working in Australia who produce excellent work promoting civil liberties, calling out human rights abuses and holding governments and corporations to account.
Last night, emerging from an incredibly strong field, we honoured three outstanding journalists in our Young Journalist and Open Journalist categories for Excellence in Civil Liberties Journalism.Read more
Yesterday, Past President and Life Member of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties, the Hon. Cameron Murphy AM, MLC recogonised the Councils 60th anniversay celebrations.
"I recognise the important work of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties, which will celebrate its sixtieth anniversary tonight with a gala dinner in Sydney. The anniversary event will be hosted by Dr Meredith Burgmann, AM, who is a former President of this House. The guest speaker will be Craig Foster, AM, who is the current chair of the Australian Republic Movement. He will be discussing the need for an Australian republic and a strong and independent Australia. It is a cause that I have a deep and abiding interest in.Read more
Six years ago, in the heart of this nation, a proclamation was made. Over 250 delegates representing First Nations joined to deliver the Uluru Statement from the Heart, inviting Australians to enshrine an Indigenous Voice within the constitution and to advance truth telling and treaty making.
We are mere weeks until the referendum day on the 14th October when Australians will vote on whether to enshrine a Voice in the Constitution. I take this moment to reiterate our support for a First Nations Voice to Parliament. We strive, in this moment, to be the best allies we can. I note that the discourse surrounding the referendum campaign has reified intergenerational trauma and unearthed historic injustices and the Voice is only one vehicle through which First Nations’ justice may be achieved in Australia.Read more
Sydney Criminal Lawyers: NSW Premier Says No to Drug Decriminalisation, as the ACT Embarks on Bold Health Approach
This week, drug decriminalisation laws passed by a Labor Greens government in the ACT came into effect. This will mean less drug-related deaths, less normally law-abiding citizens arrested, and more time for police to see to real crime.
Yet, on the same day these laws were passed, NSW Labor premier Chris Minns told the Murdoch press that his government isn’t contemplating drug decriminalisation at present, but if he is voted in again, it might contemplate it some time after that.
A number of NSW Labor MPs, however, are likely disappointed with this decision, as they’ve spoken out about drug law reform in the past. Minns told the Daily Telegraph on Monday that there’s “no mandate” for his government to follow the ACT. But this is pretty obvious, because as state leader, he’s supposed to set the agenda. And the ongoing deaths and overpolicing of First Nations people in regard to drugs, seems to be his mandate.Read more
Queensland premier defends decision to fast-track proposed changes allowing police watch houses to detain children.
Yesterday the Queensland Government led by Premier Anastasia Palaszczuk changed the law to allow children to be indefinitely detained in Police watch houses usually reserved for adults. To accomplish this an amendment was snuck into an unrelated Child Protection bill, the alteration itself required a separate vote to suspend the states Human Rights Act as detaining children is a violation of this act. The state government claims this shocking law change is necessary due to Youth Detention centres reaching dangerous levels of overcrowding, with Labor MPs arguing that housing Children in watchhouses amongst adult detainees is “safer”. Such a law change comes after the Supreme Court deemed the detention of children in watchhouses illegal, with the solicitor-general advising the government to legislate to ensure no legal ramifications. Thus, the law change is a way for the government to legalise an already existing process.Read more
Max Opray reports: Department of Home Affairs officials demanded that independent researchers water down a report critical of counterterrorism powers allowing individuals to be imprisoned for a crime they had yet to commit, newly revealed documents show. In 2018, the Home Affairs Department engaged leading researchers at the Australian National University to review the accuracy of tools designed to assess the risk of someone committing a future terrorism offence. Australia’s preventive detention regime for terrorism offenders allows individuals to be imprisoned for up to three years to prevent a future crime.Read more
We think that the proliferation of Artificial Intelligence, AI, poses significant risks to the civil rights of the Australian public. As it stands, Australia’s regulatory system fails to fully address these risks – an issue that will grow with increased use of these technologies.Read more