Meet our CEO and Principal Solicitor: George Newhouse

George Newhouse attended Sydney Grammar School and then studied Law and Commerce at the University of New South Wales.

After leaving university, he joined JPMorgan in Sydney as a corporate finance executive and was later transferred to JPMorgan’s New York office. From New York he moved to London where he worked for two years as a capital markets lawyer for Clifford Chance. In 1990 he returned to Sydney and continued working as a lawyer with Swaab & Associates. He became an accredited mediator and was a member of the Consumer Trader Tenancy Tribunal from 1999 to 2007 and a mediator for the Workers Compensation Commission from 2001 to 2010.

In addition to his expertise in social justice law, Newhouse specialises in defamation, privacy, negligence, property, finance and planning law. He is an Adjunct Professor at Macquarie University where he teaches law and is also the chapter editor of Thomson Reuters The Laws of Australia: Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders – Civil Justice Issues.

Newhouse co-founded the National Justice Project in 2016 with Dan Mori and Duncan Fine. As the principal solicitor of the Project his work involves using the law in ways that support and advance social justice and human rights in Australia. It does this by supporting those who are least able to access justice and whose cases can advance human rights within Australia and the Pacific region. In addition the National Justice Project has taken on a number of research, education, advocacy and reform projects such as the Aboriginal Health Project.

In August 2008 Newhouse was invited to participate in the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd‘s Australia 2020 summit in the area of indigenous affairs.

Human Rights Work

Newhouse is well known in Australia for his human rights work with refugees, former Immigration detainees and Aboriginal Australians. His extensive social justice work was acknowledged in 2017 when he was awarded the Ron Castan Humanitarian award and again in 2019 when He was awarded the Australian Lawyers Alliance Civil Justice Award.


Newhouse represented Vivian Solon, who was deported from Australia to the Philippines; Cornelia Rau, who was detained in an Australian detention centre for ten months; the Sudanese Dafurian community, and the family of the late Richard Niyonsaba. Newhouse has also acted for Tamil, Chinese, Palestinian and Iranian asylum seekers following the Rau and Solon cases.

In June 2010 Newhouse represented Tamil asylum seekers in their complaint to the Australian Human Rights Commission regarding the suspension of the processing of their visas; which have subsequently been processed.

In February 2011 Newhouse was successful in securing the release of Seena Akhlaqi Sheikhdost, an orphan whose parents had died in a shipwreck on Christmas Island from immigration detention. He also facilitated a family with two vulnerable children to be moved from Inverbrackie Detention Centre in Adelaide to community detention in Sydney. George has championed the use of the Commonwealth’s common law duty of care to have children released from fenced detention and more recently to be medically evacuated from Nauru.

In 2011 in the WA Coroner’s Court, Newhouse represented the survivors and relatives of those who died in the 2010 Christmas Island boat disaster and he represented the next of kin of one of the three suicides in Villawood before the NSW Coroner. He also obtained an injunction to stop the first Afghan asylum seeker to be forcibly returned to Afghanistan. In 2013 he acted for two vulnerable youths in immigration detention and had them released into the community. In 2013 and 2014 together with Julian Burnside and Dan Mori he mounted a Constitutional Challenge to the detention of asylum seekers on Nauru. Newhouse fought for the rights of those indefinitely detained in immigration detention to be released or to have their adverse ASIO determinations reviewed.

George has led a team of lawyers at the National Justice Project to challenge the Minister of Immigration’s decision to refuse to bring a woman who had become pregnant as a result of a rape on Nauru to Australia for a safe and lawful termination. His success in the Plaintiff s99 Case affirmed that the Minister for Immigration had a duty of care to asylum seekers offshore as well as in Australia.

As a result of that action the National Justice Project was able to bring other women to Australia throughout 2017.

In February 2017 the National Justice Project, under the direction of Newhouse, was successful, in obtaining an injunction to stop the Minister for Immigration from implementing a blanket policy to remove the mobile phones of all detainees in Immigration Detention.

In December 2017 the National Justice Project team commenced legal proceedings for a 12 year old girl (known by the pseudonym FRX17) on Nauru who required urgent medical treatment which was not available on Nauru that case was successful and they followed up that case with legal action for 46 other refugee children on Nauru. Those cases and the Nauru Government’s decision to deport Medecins Sans Frontieres medical staff led to the #kidsoffnauru campaign and ultimately to legislation, known as the “Medevac bill” to ensure the medical evacuation of refugees in need of care.[24] The work in this area has been documented in an academic article published in the Court of Conscience [25]

First Nations Australians

In 2006 George worked with the Mutitjulu Aboriginal Community to overturn the decision of the Howard Government to impose an Administrator over the Mutitjulu Community Aboriginal Corporation on the basis that the decision was ultra vires or beyond the power of the decision maker. In January 2009 Newhouse advised Barbara Shaw and the Prescribed Areas Peoples Alliance on their complaint about the Commonwealth Government’s Northern Territory Intervention Laws to the United Nations Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

In August 2009, acting on behalf of Barbara Shaw and other town camp residents, he gathered a team of lawyers led by Ronald Merkel QC to stop the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Jenny Macklin from proceeding with her takeover of the Alice Springs Town Camps and entering into a 40-year lease with the town camp associations.

In January 2010 he took on “cyber racists” who published material vilifying Indigenous Australians and succeeded in having Google remove search results and links to two racially offensive web pages based outside of Australia. During 2010 Newhouse worked with the Aboriginal Communities in the Northern Territory to fight for a fair rent to be paid by the Commonwealth for leases which the Commonwealth had taken over Aboriginal Land which were compulsorily acquired under the Northern Territory Intervention Legislation. In May 2010 Newhouse assisted The Traditional Aboriginal Owners of Muckaty Station to commence legal action against the Northern Land Council and the Commonwealth to overturn the nomination of their land as the site of Australia’s first radioactive waste storage facility.

In January 2011 Newhouse successfully represented the Hermannsburg Bulldogs, an indigenous Australian rules football team from Hermannsburg, in the Northern Territory and had them reinstated into the Central Australian Football League competition after they were suspended from the competition without due process.[34] In 2013 and 2014 Newhouse acted for several Aboriginal Australian women who had their children removed by child protection agencies.

In 2014 Newhouse acted for the family of Andrea Pickett, an Aboriginal Australian who was brutally murdered by her husband. The family took action against the Western Australian Police and the WA Department of Child Protection. Newhouse has acted in many inquests for Aboriginal Australians who died in custody. In 2015-6 he acted for the Deaths in Custody Watch Committee of WA in the Inquest into the death of Ms Dhu in police custody. He also acts for the family of David Dungay Jr who died in Long Bay Prison in December 2015. He is also assisting the family of the late Wayne Morrison who died in Yatala Prison in September 2016. Newhouse has acted for Aboriginal Communities in WA and the Northern Territory, participated in many rallies and spoken at different events defending the rights of Indigenous Australians, refugees, ethnic minority groups and genocide survivors and denouncing all forms of racism and anti-antisemitism and human rights abuse.[37]

Other matters

Newhouse has represented gay activist Gary Burns in two of his homosexual vilification cases. Newhouse had an assault charge dismissed against a 64-year-old grandmother, Leentije (Eva) McDonald, who was searched by NSW Police outside a pub in Maroubra in unusual circumstances. Newhouse acted for the Emden Family in their efforts to have their claim, that the painting ‘Lady with a fan’, by Gerard ter Borch was stolen from their grandfather Max Emden by German army officials during World War II, recognised by the National Gallery of Victoria.


George Newhouse speaking at the inquest into the death of Naomi Williams

George has represented relatives of the deceased in the following inquests:

Inquest into the death of Naomi Williams

Inquest into the death of David Dungay Jr

Inquest into the death of Pamela Edith Ashley

Inquest into the death of Fenika Junior Tautuliu Fenika (Junior Fenika/Togatuki)

Inquest into the death of Fazel Chegeini Nejad

Inquest into the death of Josefa Rauluni, David Saunders and Ahmed Al-Akabi

Inquest into the death of Robert Peihopa

Inquest into the death of Mr X in Villawood Immigration Detention Centre

Inquest into the death of Ms Dhu

Inquest into the death of 30 deceased and 20 suspected deceased persons on board the vessel known as Siev 221

Inquest into the death of 17 deceased persons on board the vessel known as Siev 358 (Kaniva)

Inquest into the death of Jayden Bennell

Inquest into the death of Omid Masoulmani

Inquest into the death of Mr Jackamarra

Inquest into the death of Wayne Morrison

Inquest into the death of Alf Eades

He has been involved in investigations into the following deaths:

Joyce Clarke

Richard Niyonsaba

Hamid Shamshiripour

Rakib Khan

Faysal Ishak Ahmed

George has acted for the family of:

Kumanjayi (Kwementayaye) Ryder

George has acted for the plaintiff in the following High Court matters:

CPCF v Minister for Immigration and Border Protection [2015] HCA 1 (28 January 2015)

George has acted for the Applicants in the following Class Actions:

ARJ17 v Minister for Immigration & Border Protection

Tracy Evans v Health Administration Corporation and Waqar Malik

George successfully mediated the following cases with the Commonwealth Government

The wrongful deportation of Vivan Solon

The wrongful detention of Cornelia Rau

George has acted for the Applicant in the following Federal Court Cases:

Mario Giuseppi v Registrar of Aboriginal Corporations & Anor (Mutitjulu)

Mark Lane Jangala v Northern Land Council & Ors (Muckaty Nuclear Waste Dump Case)

Edward Mullaley & Anor v the State of Western Australia & Ors (Baby Charlie Mullaley Case)

Tamica Mullaley v The State Coroner of WA (Baby Charlie Mullaley Inquest)

MZYYR v Secretary of the Department of Immigration

AWP17 v Minister for Immigration

AKM17 v Minister for Immigration & Border Protection

FRX17 v Minister for Home Affairs

DMA 18 v Minister for Home Affairs

D7 v Minister for Immigration & Border Protection

S99 v Minister for Immigration & Border Protection

George has acted for the Plaintiff in the following Supreme Court Cases:

Subramaniam v NSW Mental Health Review Tribunal (2012) 83 NSWLR 171

Coral Wilson v Joseph Michael Francis (Banskia Hill Riots) [2013] WASC 157

He was also instrumental in negotiating a settlement in the Alice Springs Town Camps Leases Dispute and was responsible for the successful complaint to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination regarding the Northern Territory Intervention.

He successfully argued for the Hermannsburg Bulldogs Under 17 years AFL team to be reinstated after they had been suspended from the 2011 CAFL competition.