It was a year of initiatives, consolidation, successes and some failures – all covered in the Annual Report – but overall CLA moved forward positively in terms of both achievements and numbers. It is pleasing that there was a 30% rise in membership, but even more pleasing is the membership quality: the president and board are lucky to be able to call on the wide range of skills and expertise of such committed people.
Our initiatives included possible ‘Bali 9’ guidelines and extradition innovations, as well as developing the ‘Clea Code’ for police pursuits. Our annual Australia Day letters for 2008 promoted changes to Senate procedures, more transparent decision-making and reporting when our troops are deployed, and equal rights for Territorians (who are second-class Australian citizens). We were also able to feature our cartoon exhibition in Goulburn, and to produce CLA’s first Community Service Advertisement (CSA) for late-night TV.
In terms of consolidation, it is pleasing to see how board teamwork developed during the year, with members taking on specific roles. As well, networking continued at an accelerated pace, mainly by the CEO and President with federal parliamentarians, but also with Director/Webmaster Lance Williamson taking responsibility for ACT matters. This coming year, board members will have the opportunity to ‘manage’ interaction with a particular State or Territory. We’re seeking a new person to guide and lead a growing relationship with students and academics throughout Australia.
Successes in 2008 included CLA submissions aimed at better legislation, federally and in the ACT. Behind the scenes, where we do a lot of our best work outside media and public scrutiny, CLA members have been involved in important Department of Foreign Affairs consultations, forums with the Home Affairs Minister, NGO privacy conferences and attending parliamentary and other inquiries. A major step forward was the handling of general inquiries from the CLA website, managed and ‘hubbed’ by member Phylli Ives but with answering contributions from members throughout Australia on rotation. We expect this initiative’s success will lead to more member involvement in other areas from 2009.
Our non-successes – failures – were mostly in the high targets set for fundraising, but it has been an awful year for trying to raise money, and looks like continuing to be sub-optimal for some years to come. However, we have sufficient funds (see Treasurer’s Report) to continue CLA’s steady growth over those years, in preparation for a later, more major growth phase. We would have liked to further consolidate activities of the WA and Goulburn branches, and to develop new entities in other locations, but we are benefiting from a slowly increasing, quality membership in key locations.
Finally, I am grateful for such a strong, ongoing commitment from the Directors. Bill Rowlings continues as the glue binding CLA together and producing ideas and linkages to extend our influence. In Treasurer Kevin Popple and Director/Webmaster Lance Williamson, who also looks after police matters, we are indeed fortunate to have years of experience at top levels of the Public Service. Anthony Williamson, in particular with his work on submissions, and fellow young lawyer Jessica Mohr ensure that we understand the viewpoints of people in their 20s as well as the law, while Anne Cahill-Lambert brings a wealth of management and board experience, as well as enormous success and contacts through her national work, including with the Prime Minister, on organ donation. Jim Staples adds decades of pro bono work, barrister skills and industrial relations expertise.
I am indeed fortunate to be president, and to chair meetings and inputs of such a talented bunch.
Kristine Klugman, President
29 January 2009