History

History

The Victorian Council for Civil Liberties (Liberty Victoria) has a long and proud history of campaigning for civil liberties and human rights for 80 years.

Officially known today as the Victorian Council for Civil Liberties Inc, and previously as the Australian Council for Civil Liberties (ACCL), its work has been driven by the skills and initiatives of active and dedicated volunteers.

The ACCL was established in Melbourne in 1936 by prominent citizens from areas including of law, art, writing and academia. It offered a means of expression to those people - across the political spectrum - who believed that social progress could be achieved only in an atmosphere of liberty.

John Bennett and Beatrice Faust launched the Victorian Council of Civil Liberties (VCCL) in 1966, incorporating a new generation of young activists and bi-partisan supporters in an agenda for law reform. 

That Liberty Victoria has functioned successfully as a forthright advocate of liberty and freedom is due to a dedicated and committed committee and executive from 1936 until the present. For many years, the council was spearheaded by Brian Fitzpatrick. In more recent decades retired Federal Court Judges, The Honourable Ron Merkel QC and The Honourable Alan Goldberg AO QC,  Ron Castan QC, Dr June Factor, Robert Richter QC, Dr Jude Wallace, County Court Judge Felicity Hampel SC, President of the Court of Appeal, The Honourable Justice Chris Maxwell AC, Brian Walters QC, Julian Burnside QC, Michael Pearce SC, Professor Spencer Zifcak and recently appointed Supreme Court Judge The Honourable Justice Jane Dixon QC have served as presidents.

Liberty Victoria has contributed significantly to public debate in Australia. It is one of the country's best known organisations campaigning for civil liberties, human rights and democratic governance. Through educational campaigns, public events, interaction with the media, parliamentary submissions, arguing for law reform and acting as a vigilant watchdog over precious freedoms, the council has had a lasting impact on the Australian political landscape.

A full history of Liberty Victoria to the late 1990s was published in 2011. "Liberty: A History of Civil Liberties in Australia" by James Waghorne and Stuart MacIntyre, is available through the Liberty Victoria office.