About

We are independent and courageous, with a track record of securing justice and accountability for people and communities who have experienced discrimination.

Through the power of strategic legal action, education and advocacy we use our skills to build a fairer justice system and more equitable society.

We work to ensure everyone has the right to equality under the law. We work collaboratively with our community partners and clients to identify systemic injustice and to run test cases that break down the barriers to justice. Our long-term goal is to eliminate systemic racism and discrimination.
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Take Action

You can support our vital social justice work and build the power of our clients fighting for truth, justice and accountability.

Our Impact

The impact of our important strategic legal action has included:

  • Successfully representing Vivian Solon, an Australian Citizen, wrongfully deported from Australia to the Philippines.
  • Successfully representing Cornelia Rau, who was detained in an Australian detention centre for ten months and who received the highest exemplary damages in Australian legal history.
  • Successfully acting for a board member of the Mututjulu Community Aboriginal Corporation after the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, took steps to sack the local community leadership. (Guiseppe v Registrar of Aboriginal Corporations [2007] FCAFC 91).
  • Successfully acting for the Traditional Owners to stop the Commonwealth Government from using their land at Muckaty Station as a Nuclear Waste Dump.
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      Representing the Deaths in Custody Watch Committee of WA at the inquest into the death of Ms Dhu, who tragically died in custody in Port Headland. The inquiry into her death culminated in the introduction of an Aboriginal Custody Notification Scheme, and law reform which outlawed the arrest of fine defaulters.

      • Running a successful class action (based on property law) to allow detainees in immigration detention to retain access to and use of their mobile phones.

      • Acting for the mother of an Aboriginal child placed in an adult prison in WA after the Banksia Hill Riots in 2012. Our action which saw the early release of her son from detention and an acceleration of the release of other children in similar circumstances.

      • Acting for the families of 51 people who died on the SIEV 221 shipwreck on Christmas Island - Australia’s worst maritime disaster in a century.

      • Acting for the mother of an Aboriginal child who WA Police left behind at the scene of a brutal domestic violence attack after they arrested his mother – who was the victim of the attack. The WA Police negligence meant that the child was accessible to a violent man who subsequently murdered the toddler.

      • Securing improved prison conditions for a transexual woman placed in a male prison in WA.

      • Running a series of precedent making tort cases for asylum seekers and refugees transferred to PNG and Nauru which ultimately led to the#KidsOffNauru campaign in 2018 and the medical evacuation of 500 people from Nauru and PNG to Australia.

      • Representing the family of Naomi Williams in a coronial inquest, which led to the Coroner acknowledging that prejudice had contributed to Naomi’s death and a series of local and State based reforms to stamp out racism in healthcare.


      OUR THREE YEAR STRATEGY

      After securing substantial steps forward, our journey towards advancing human rights and social justice has only just begun. Here is how we plan to make change in the coming three years:
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      Our Board

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      Steve Castan

      Chair


      Steve is an experienced Barrister at the Victorian Bar. Steve is also a Nationally Accredited Mediator Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner. Steven acts in Humans Rights and Social Justice matters and has expertise in facilitating non-confrontational conflict resolution across all aspects of law and justice.


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      Elissa Baxter

      Company Secretary


      Elissa provides governance advice to management and the Board of the National Justice Project and coordinates the Board meeting process. Also a practising lawyer, Elissa has over 20 years of experience in litigation and corporate advisory work, and is an experienced governance professional.

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      George Newhouse

      Founder


      George is the Principal Solicitor of the National Justice Project and an Adjunct Professor of Law at Macquarie University. He is well known for his work in fighting for justice for people experiencing mental health issues, LGBTIQ+, immigrants, prisoners, asylum seekers, youth detainees, and First Nations people.


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      Dan Mori

      Founder


      Dan is an American lawyer who attained the rank of lieutenant colonel in the United States Marine Corps. Mori was the military lawyer for Australian Guantanamo Bay detainee David Hicks.

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      Duncan Fine

      Founder


      Duncan has been a lawyer for over 30 years and is also an author, journalist, media advisor and social commentator. He has worked on Aboriginal Land Claims in the Northern Territory and for the Aboriginal Legal Service.


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      Alison Whittaker


      Alison is a Gomeroi woman, poet and legal scholar from Gunnedah and Tamworth, NSW. She is a passionate and courageous storyteller and works primarily in media law and Aboriginal women’s law and policy. Alison is also a senior research fellow at the Jumbunna Institute for Indigenous Education and Research .


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      Jenni Seton AM


      Jenni brings over two decades of experience in not-for-profit leadership to the National Justice Project Board. She was the CEO of Redkite from 1997 to 2017, where she led research, development and the successful implementation of innovative cancer services, restructured and expanded the organisation to a unified national entity, and rebranded the organisation in 2005.


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      Tasma Walton


      Actress and writer.


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      Heather Yelland


      Thought leader and public speaker.


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      Rob Silberstein


      Rob is a lawyer, doctor and advocate with a substantial physical disability. Professionally, he specialises in intellectual property, commercial law and litigation. Rob combines his extensive legal expertise with his formidable advocacy for equality and inclusion.


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      Neil Singleton

      Treasurer


      Accountant and financial advisor


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      Anita Heiss


      Professor Anita Heiss is an author, poet, cultural activist and social commentator from the Wiradjuri nation of central NSW. She is an advocate for First Nations literature and literacy through her writing for adults and children and her membership of boards and committees. Her most recent book is Bila Yarrudhangggalangdhuray (River of Dreams).


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      Nicola Kaldor


      Nicola is a passionate refugee advocate closely associated with the Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law.at UNSW. Nicola is an experienced director with a strong understanding of the Not-for-Profit sector and demonstrated success working with philanthropists. She has been a director of  Bangarra Dance Theatre, Regional Opportunities Australia and currently sits on the board of the Foundation Board of the Australian Ballet.


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      Kirsten Gray



      Kirsten is a Muruwari/Yuwaalaraay woman, mother and lawyer. She started her career representing parents in child protection matters and has gone on to work extensively in Indigenous policy and human rights. Kirsten has served numerous Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioners at the Australian Human Rights Commission and has contributed to Indigenous human rights advocacy both nationally and internationally. Kirsten served as a senior policy officer on the Royal Commission into the Detention and Protection of Children in the Northern Territory and supported the Queensland Treaty Working Group in the development of the Path to Treaty report.

      Larissa Behrendt AO

      Larissa Behrendt AO


      Larissa Behrendt is a Eualyai and Kamillaroi lawyer, author, filmmaker and host of ABC Radio’s Speaking Out program. Larissa is a Distinguished Professor at the University of Technology Sydney and at the Director of Research and Academic Programs Jumbunna Institute of Indigenous Education and Research.

       


      The details of our board of directors are listed in our Financial Report.

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      George Newhouse

      Director and Principal Solicitor



      George is the principal solicitor of the National Justice Project and an Adjunct Professor of Law at Macquarie University. He is well known for his extensive work in fighting for justice for people experiencing mental health issues, LGBTQI+, immigrants, prisoners, asylum seekers, youth detainees, and First Nations people.

      George was voted one of the 25 winners of the 2021 Impact25 Awards, which recognises the work of Australia's most influential, innovative and collaborative change-makers.

      George serves on the Board of Deadly Connections, and is a Committee Member of the Climate Justice Programme

      George is a leading voice on social justice issues in the public sphere. You can read his articles in the ABC and The Guardian

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      Naomi Lai

      General Manager


      Naomi Lai brings more than two decades of professional experience across business, theology, grass-roots community organisations, social justice, and non-profit organisation. Naomi has been a part of the NJP team since December 2018, when she joined the legal team as a volunteer.

      Naomi started her law degree at Southern Cross University in 2015, with the sole purpose of working in human rights, which is where she achieved academic excellence and was placed on the School of Law and Justice Dean’s List. Naomi also has a Bachelor of Theology (with Honours) from the Australian College of Theology and a Diploma of Diaconal Studies from the Presbyterian Theological Centre. Her diverse professional background includes roles at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital Sydney’s Oncology Ward and Presbyterian Ladies College.

      As General Manager, Naomi is focused on leading the NJP team to continue complex legal cases and advocacy initiatives, capacity building and mentoring, and equipping the next generation of human rights and social justice lawyers.


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      Emma Hearne

      Senior Solicitor


      Since Emma joined NJP in late 2017, she has worked on cases across Australia including the Jackamarra Inquest in Broome, WA; a discrimination and negligence claim for the Mullaley family in Perth; and refugee clients in Brisbane. Recent cases Emma has worked on include the FRX17 case that sparked the #kidsoffnauru campaign and the subsequent ‘Medevac Bill’. As part of NJP’s Offshore Detention Team, Emma has provided guidance to other lawyers in the industry, providing the groundswell of cases that led to all children being removed from Nauru by the end of 2018. Her practice also includes acting for Indigenous Australians fighting the police, corrective services and health services for mistreatment, abuse, negligence and discrimination. Current cases include damages claims for refugees who suffered in Australia’s offshore detention centres, a man who was run down by a police car in Perth, and representing the families of the young boys who drowned after being chased into the river by police in WA.

       

      Emma has a background as a criminal defence lawyer with specialist skills in Indigenous and vulnerable client legal matters developed in roles with the Aboriginal Legal Service in Dubbo, Western NSW and four years as a Solicitor with Galloways Solicitors & Attorneys. She has appeared in Courts across multiple jurisdictions advocating for her clients at hearings, sentences and appeals. She holds a Double Degree of Bachelor of Laws with Honours with a Bachelor of Arts (Psychology) from Macquarie University. Her volunteer experience includes working at Nea Kavala, Alexandria and Derveni refugee camps in Thessaloniki, Greece in 2017, providing crucial legal aid services to those seeking asylum in Greece who had travelled through Turkey, from countries such as Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and DRC.


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      Ashleigh Buckett

      Senior Solicitor


      Ashleigh has worked with NJP since March 2018. As part of NJP’s Offshore Team, she has secured life-saving medical care for children and adults in offshore detention in Nauru and PNG. Ashleigh also runs matters in relation to unlawful assaults, excessive use of force and negligence by police and corrective services officers, and advocates for clients in gaol with disabilities and ongoing health issues to receive essential care. Through NJP’s Aboriginal Health Justice Project, Ashleigh works to address systemic discrimination and negligence in the health system.

      Ashleigh brings to NJP expertise in international human rights law and international criminal law. She holds a Master of Laws specialising in this field and previously worked as a Legal Advisor for the International Bar Association and as part of the defence team on a major case before the ICTY.


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      Duncan Fine

      Special Counsel


      Duncan is truly one of Sydney’s great Renaissance men. He has been a lawyer for over 30 years, and is also a published author, journalist, playwright, media advisor and social commentator.

      His legal career started working on Aboriginal land claims in the Northern Territory. He has also spent time in one of Sydney’s top law firms specialising in defamation law but has also worked for the Aboriginal Legal Service in Sydney. He has worked as an advisor for the Lord Mayor of Sydney and is currently a columnist for Fairfax newspapers. With the National Justice Project he works on a range of cases, focusing on helping families through inquests into deaths in custody.


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      Sarah Druce

      Special Counsel


      Since joining NJP in 2017, Sarah has focused on using strategic litigation to effect systemic change for the human rights of First Nations people and refugees detained in offshore detention requiring urgent medical treatment.  Sarah has a background in managing litigation risk, providing strategic legal and commercial advice for a variety of multi-national, government and national organisations in Australia and South East Asia.  


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      Daniel Ghezelbash

      Special Counsel


      Daniel Ghezelbashis a Special Counsel at the National Justice Project and an Associate Professor at Macquarie Law School. His main practice areas are refugee and immigration law and administrative law. He is the founder and director of the Macquarie University Social Justice Clinic, through which Macquarie law students assist with the caseload of the National Justice Project.

      His research focuses on Australian, comparative and international refugee law, and how technology can be used to promote accountability and access to justice. His book, Refuge Lost: Asylum Law in an Interdependent World (Cambridge University Press 2018) examines the spread of restrictive asylum seeker policies around the world. Daniel has held visiting positions at the Refugee Studies Centre at Oxford University, Harvard Law School, Queen Mary Law School, New York Law School and Brooklyn Law School.


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      Elika Chaparian

      Solicitor/Volunteer & Stakeholder Manager


      Elika has been with NJP since early 2018, starting as a volunteer paralegal, before being offered a position on staff. She has been a valuable team member due to her bilingual skills, enabling better and more effective communication with our Farsi-speaking clients. Elika has assisted in securing urgent medical treatment for many of the men, women, and children held in offshore detention, as well as working on numerous coronial inquests, personal injury, and racial discrimination matters.


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      Sophie Wenderoth

      Paralegal


      Sophie is a Juris Doctor student, having graduated from a Bachelor of Communication (Journalism) at RMIT University in Melbourne in 2017. Sophie mostly supports our work with refugees and asylum seekers. She is deeply passionate about this work, given her family were Holocaust survivors and victims. Before starting at NJP, Sophie worked as a freelance journalist and editor. She was also co-creator and executive producer of her own news show, Half Hour. The show was aimed at speaking to young people about community issues, with a focus on culturally sensitive and accurate reporting, in the lead up to the Victorian State Election.


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      Bianca Orsini

      Solicitor


      Bianca started at National Justice Projectin September 2019 as part of her practical legal training, and continued to volunteer until June 2020. She then worked as a graduate lawyer, before becoming a Junior Solicitor. Bianca is passionate about facilitating access to justice, challenging systemic racism and advocating for accountability following deaths in custody.

      Bianca has gained invaluable experience through previously volunteering at Justice Action, the Refugee Advice and Casework Service, and Community Legal Centres NSW. She has worked across a variety of areas including prisoner rights, refugee law and personal injury, and her experience extends to legal research, advocacy, policy development, administrative and legal support.

      Bianca graduated from Macquarie University in 2020, having studied a Bachelor of Law and Bachelor of International Studies. She is currently undertaking a Masters of Law at the University of Sydney, with a focus on human rights law and environmental law.

       

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      Karina Hawtrey

      Solicitor


      Karina joined the National Justice Project in 2021 as a Solicitor as part of the Ing Foundation scholarship program. Karina has a background in migration and administrative law and has worked as a public servant and as a writer at National Indigenous Television. She is a Kamilaroi (Gamilaraay) woman with a strong interest in social justice and advocating against systemic racism. She graduated with a Bachelor of Law with Honours and a Bachelor of Media from Macquarie University in 2017.


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      Juliette Kennedy

      Paralegal


      Juliette started at the National Justice Project as a volunteer in September 2019, providing support to the executive team. In 2020 she joined the team part time as a paralegal and, inspired by the incredible work and impact of the NJP, commenced a Juris Doctor Degree at Macquarie University in 2021.

      Juliette previously studied International Studies (Development) at the University of New South Wales, during which she spent a year studying Multiculturalism and Forced Migration at the Berlin University of Technology. She is deeply committed to social justice, Human Rights, and challenging systemic injustices.


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      Ariane Dozer

      Project and Partnerships Manager, Solicitor


      Ariane originally joined the National Justice Project in 2018 to manage the Papua New Guinea Social Justice Project, and is now a full-time member of the National Justice Project team. Descending from the Gayiri and Badtjala peoples, Ariane has always been passionate about achieving equity and justice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, particularly in the child welfare and justice systems.

      After graduating from UTS in 2012 with a combined Bachelor of Laws & Communications, Ariane has gained valuable skills from various roles with the Australian Human Rights Commission, the NSW Aboriginal Land Council, and most recently the Royal Commission into the Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability. Ariane uses this experience in her role to help demonstrate the agility and ability of NJP to contribute to meaningful change across a multitude of settings in collaboration with community leaders.


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      Ayse Selcuk

      Project and Partnerships Officer


      Ayse joined the National Justice Project in October 2021. She is an experienced social policy researcher and project manager. She previously worked in research ethics and research grants management at UNSW Sydney before leaving to pursue a career in social justice and human rights. She is passionate about working with communities towards achieving social justice, challenging systemic racism and advocating for accountability in the justice system.

      Ayse holds a Bachelor of Social Science (Development) and a Master of International Human Rights Law and Policy from UNSW Sydney, with a focus on human rights and social justice for First Nations peoples, refugees and asylum seekers.


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      Katy Tyrrell

      Fundraising and Communications Manager


      Katy joined the National Justice Project in 2020, she is an experienced senior executive who has worked across the philanthropic, not for profit and for purpose sectors. She has previously worked for the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, The Balnaves Foundation, Philanthropy Australia, ArtSupport Australia (an initiative of the Australia Council for the Arts), Milk Crate Theatre, Darlinghurst Theatre, Critical Path, Sculpture by the Sea and YHA Australia.

      She currently volunteers on Management Committees for Sydney Improvised Music Association, CuriousWorks and the Manly Art Gallery and Museum, and is a Primary Ethics teacher at Elanora Primary School. She is passionate about social justice, arts and culture, and ensuring that opportunities to flourish are accessible to all.

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      Romina Reyftmann

      Legal Practitioner | Volunteer


      Romina’s family emigrated from The Philippines to escape its authoritarian regime and grew up in Darwin, Northern Territory in and around the mob, where her aboriginal neighbour's family helped protect and care for her when she needed them the most, and working for NJP is her way of honouring their benevolence. She has a doctorate in medicine/legal background.

      After years of hard work and training, she has integrated her science, medical and legal knowledge to help NJP under Emma Hearne’s team. Her interests are in coronial, health and criminal law in a social justice context, having trained under two Magistrates, (one a former Deputy Coroner), The Aboriginal Legal Service and Redfern Legal Centre. At NJP, her team has assisted families speak their truth and demands for accountability at the ‘Swan River Inquest’ in Perth, the Royal Commission for First Nations children in out-of-home care, and currently has a number of onshore/offshore refugees/people seeking asylum cases, as well as coronial matters across Australia.

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      Jason Hesse

      Board Liaison Officer


      Jason started volunteering at the National Justice Project in March 2020 as part of his practical legal training. He was drawn to the National Justice Project’s important advocacy work after graduating from Macquarie University with a Bachelor of Media and Law. During his studies, he formed a strong interest in the influence that the media has on cross-cultural issues within Australia, with a particular focus on the narratives that perpetuate systemic racism within Australia.

      Jason currently assists across several teams and is the volunteer manager, he is passionate about fighting against systemic racism and believes education and law reform plays a vital role in the pursuit for social justice.

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      Sambavi Seermaran

      Solicitor


      Sambavi joined the National Justice Project in 2021, where she is currently seconded to Deadly Connections Community and Justice Services to lead the implementation of the Bugmy Justice Project. She is also a solicitor with the National Justice Project on a part-time basis. Sambavi graduated from UTS with Law/Medical Science degrees and is currently undertaking her Masters in Law with a specialisation in Human Rights Law and Policy at UNSW.

      Sambavi's lifelong passion for human rights and social justice is drawn from her family and communal history as a Sri Lankan Tamil, which has its own histories of violence, dispossession and ongoing colonisation. She is deeply interested pursuing accountability and effecting meaningful and systemic change for marginalized peoples.

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      Lucy Schroeder

      Paralegal


      Lucy first joined NJP as an Aurora Project scholar in 2019. Her desire to challenging injustice and her passion for the work of the NJP drove her to return after the conclusion of this internship. Lucy is a proud Dharug woman and passionate about challenging the systemic racism experienced by First Nations people. 

      Lucy completed a Bachelor of Arts (majoring in Government and International Relations) in 2019 and is in the 5th year of her LLB at the University of Sydney. She was previously a Katrina Dawson Foundation scholar at the Women’s College. In addition to her work at NJP, she is a volunteer Director for Dharug Strategic Management Group and the First Nations LLB representative within University of Sydney Law School.

      IMPACT REPORTS

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      financial REPORTS

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      2021 #IMPACT25 AWARDS

      The National Justice Project has been recognised as a leader in social change in the 2021 #Impact25 Awards!

      Our CEO and Principal Solicitor George Newhouse was voted one of the 25 winners of the award, recognising change-makers who embody the values of collaboration, innovation, and influence.

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