A copy of the current constitution of Civil Liberties Australia Incorporated (Association No. A04043) can be found by clicking here. The current version (V5) incorporates changes arising from the 2013 Annual General Meeting, which is the last time the constitution was altered (information correct at 1 June 2013).


Civil Liberties Australia (CLA) is a national organisation based in Australia’s capital city, Canberra. CLA stands for people’s rights, and goes in to bat for our civil liberties…basically, for a fair go. It is non-party political and independent of other organisations. It is funded by its members and donations – CLA does not receive funding from other sources.

CLA monitors police and security forces, and the actions and inaction of politicians and bureaucrats as well as reviewing proposed legislation to make it better. Actions and activities are reported in a monthly newsletter, CLArion, and regularly on the website, www.cla.asn.au  The website also carries articles of general interest in the field of liberties, rights, freedoms and responsibilities.

The organisation aims to keep Australia the free and open society it has traditionally been, where you can be yourself without undue interference from ‘authority’. CLA was first registered on 10 December 2003. Current office bearers are located under the ‘The Board’ tab associated with this page. In mid-2013, CLA had more than 250 members drawn from every State and Territory, as well as some international members.

CLA concentrates on trying to anticipate problems, rather than being reactive, and on providing solutions to generic difficulties, rather than trying to correct one-off, individual cases.

CLA facilitates Law School internships on emerging issues:

  • 2006: international human rights law re climate change;
  • 2007: impact of the post-11 September 2001 laws on Australian society;
  • 2007: recommendations on personal and proxy medical consent laws;
  • 2007-8: research and recommendations re new national DNA/genes laws;
  • 2009: analysis of the constitutional and legal situation in Fiji;
  • 2010: analysis of restorative justice initiatives in the Pacific;
  • 2011/12: comparative study of law-making in states/territories c.f. federally;
  • 2013: study of use of stun guns (Tasers) by police in diverse locations.


CLA is the second civil liberties group formed in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT). From about the mid-1970s to the late 1990s, a Canberra-based organisation called the ACT Council for Civil Liberties (ACTCCL) held regular meetings under the presidency for many years of barrister Laurie O’Sullivan, and then in its final years of lawyer Jon Stanhope, who later was elected to the ACT Legislative Assembly and subsequently became Chief Minister of the ACT between 2001 and 2011, when he resigned from the parliament. On 1 July 2004, he introduced the first Human Rights Act (‘Bill of Rights’) in any Australian jurisdiction.

After forming in Canberra in December 2003, the new CLA decided to operate nationally from 2006-7 when the launch of its first website showed a need for civil liberties help, advice and monitoring in all States and Territories, as well as nationally. The CLA Board decided to concentrate on any area in Australia where civil liberties and human rights are under threat, keeping a particularly watch on national issues and rural and regional areas, and in growing outer areas of major capitals, where there are no formal groups.

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