Promoting people's rights and civil liberties. It is non-party political and independent of other organisations.
Civil Liberties Australia

CLA Board

Kris KlugmanPRESIDENT: Dr Kristine Klugman OAM

Dr Klugman’s PhD in Politics at ANU analysed the two-way communication flow between MPs and electors. Earlier degrees were in Community Studies, and History. Kris previously served on the NSW Legal Aid Commission, was a foundation member of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties, and a researcher with the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, helping to establish the Criminal Justice tertiary course for police and prison officers in NSW. Her OAM was for ‘services to education and the community’. She was the first-ever female President of the board of Australia’s oldest museum, The Australian Museum. She was also the first female board member and full-time Deputy President in the 100-year history of the Board of Fire Commissioners of NSW, running the NSW Fire Brigades, and a member of state bushfire and rescue governing councils. She was co-founder of Civil Liberties Australia, and served as President from its outset in 2003.

VenkataramanVICE PRESIDENT: Rajan Venkataraman

For nearly 20 years, Rajan was a federal public servant in the Foreign Affairs, Attorney General’s and Prime Minister’s departments. His diverse career spanned foreign and domestic policy, trade negotiations and national security. He did a three-year diplomatic posting to Chile and also worked in a ministerial office in Parliament House. In 2006, Rajan was appointed a member of the Australian Film and Literature Classification Board. He is currently based in Tasmania where he works as an independent consultant and freelance editor, and volunteers as a tutor for adult literacy and numeracy. Rajan is CLA’s main media spokesperson.

VICE-PRESIDENT: Margaret Howkins

Margaret returned to WA in the early 2000s, after more than 30 years away in Canada and England, where she worked in communications before gaining formal qualifications in sociology and psychology. She ran training and management programs for the Trades Union Congress and British police among others. Back home in Perth, she was surprised to find some attitudes, training and actions of authorities antiquated by comparison: she set about becoming a change agent to ensure better monitoring of police and bureaucracies, and to boost understanding for how citizens must stand up for themselves to retain civil liberties. Recently she has tutored students to prepare them for final high school exams and university early-year courses. Her major areas of concern are police and prison matters.

SECRETARY – TREASURER: William (Bill) Rowlings OAM

Bill’s career included journalism on Australian, UK and PNG daily and Sunday newspapers, as well as being editorial director of a monthly business and sports publishing house. In PR, he was media adviser to a senior federal politician and consulted to major corporates, federal departments and agencies and NGOs, as well as co-authoring an Australian tertiary PR textbook. In 2013 he received an OAM for services to civil liberties and human rights. From the co-founding of Civil Liberties Australia (in 2003, with Dr Kristine Klugman), he has managed the organisation’s affairs day-to-day, and edited the monthly CLArion newsletter. For a brief period in 2021, he served as President.

Frank CassidyDIRECTOR: Frank Cassidy

Frank is a journalist and publisher, with qualifications in advertising, accounting, public administration and professional writing. He is currently founder-editor of the online newspaper PS News – and its network of editions covering the Commonwealth Public Service and separate state equivalents. In the 1970s, he managed marketing of the national ‘Life. Be In It’ health and fitness campaign. Frank was inaugural Secretary of the National Australia Day Council and represented the ACT at the Constitutional Convention in 1998. He is a former Convenor of the Australian Republican Movement in the ACT, and was a member of the AFL for Canberra Committee, Chairman of Tuggeranong Community Arts for 12 years from 1998 until recently. Frank received a Centenary of Federation Medal in 2000.

Richard GriggsDIRECTOR: Richard Griggs

Richard, born and raised in Hobart, qualified from the University of Tasmania with majors in law and sociology, then worked in Canberra as police and legal affairs advisor to a politician. He returned home to work as an in-house corporate lawyer and again enjoy having a choice of wilderness bush walks starting virtually from his back-doorstep. After working in-house with UTAS, he is now in private practice with a long-standing, Hobart-based law firm. Richard is Tasmanian Director of Civil Liberties Australia.

DIRECTOR: Jennifer Ashton  OAM

Jennifer is ‘retired’ from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees after two decades operating from Zambia to Kazakhstan, including two years with UNAIDS in Myanmar. During both 2015 and 2016 she was called back to UNHQ in Geneva to help kick start urgent refugee relief projects. Her career started with the then-AUSAID and with Australian NGOs (in Cambodia from 1986-1989, work for which she received an OAM). Her first qualification in social work was followed by a Masters-by-correspondence through Deakin Uni as a nightly respite from the harsh daily realities of remote refugee camps. She is now a keen gardener.

DIRECTOR: Caitlin Perry

Caitlin has worked mostly in the public sector in management, project coordination and service delivery, as well as being a member of advisory and ethics boards. For 14 years she headed the Darwin Community Legal Centre, before taking on a senior policy role in 2017 with the NT Council of Social Service. Earlier she gained experience in North Australian Aboriginal Legal Aid Service as well as with Redfern Legal Centre in Sydney. She also has worked in tenant, homeless and health/safety organisations, and with the federal electoral commission. Caitlin has a BEc from Sydney U. and Australian Institute of Company Directors post-graduate qualifications.

DIRECTOR: Dr Tony Murney

Tony has a lengthy experience in government and international organisations having held positions in the Commonwealth Parliament, Australian Capital Territory Policing, the Australian Federal Police International Deployment Group and several appointments with the United Nations.  He has served three tours in Afghanistan and two in Somalia with various organisations and held several key positions including Chief Technical Adviser on Police Professionalisation in Kabul and Deputy Commissioner of the UN integrated Police Team in Mogadishu.  Tony is a committed advocate for international police development and reform with a strong interest in civil liberties, balanced security solutions and good government.  He speaks regularly on these subjects both domestically and internationally.  Tony has a PhD in anthropology and undergraduate qualifications in regional development.

Last updated 30 August 2021

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