Strategic Litigation and Racism in Healthcare


  • George Newhouse CEO & Principal Solicitor, Adjunct Professor
  • Ariane Dozer
  • Isabel Janssen
  • Nathalie MacGregor


In Australia, until recently, the use of strategic litigation to achieve broad societal change has not been widely employed, due to historical, constitutional, social, and cultural factors; however, the landscape is changing. This article traces a ground-breaking Australian case, the Inquest into the death of Wiradjuri woman, Naomi Williams, which was run as part of a broader campaign to seek justice for First Nations people affected by racial bias in the healthcare system. The tragic circumstances of the case reignited a national conversation on health inequality through the judicial finding of ‘implicit racial bias’ and served as a platform for Aboriginal communities, organisations, and academics to demand new ways forward, notably by mandating culturally safe care — demands which are being slowly implemented. The authors demonstrate, through a detailed breakdown, how strategic litigation theory functions in practice, showing that litigation is most effective when conducted in conjunction with public advocacy within a multi-faceted campaign for change.

Author Biographies

George Newhouse, CEO & Principal Solicitor, Adjunct Professor

George Newhouse, an Australian human rights lawyer and former local councillor, serves as the principal solicitor of the National Justice Project. He lives and works on Gadigal Lands. Additionally, he holds positions as an Adjunct Professor of Law at both Macquarie University and the University of Technology Sydney.

Ariane Dozer

Ariane Dozer is an advocate inspired by the strength and survival of her Gayiri, Badtjala and Hungarian Jewish ancestors. Ariane works as a solicitor and Head of Projects at the National Justice Project. She has proudly worked alongside Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, June Oscar AO on the Wiyi Yani U Thangani (Women’s Voices) project

Isabel Janssen

Isabel Janssen is a qualified solicitor of England and Wales and is admitted to the New York Bar. She currently lives and works on Ngambri and Ngunnawal Country.

Nathalie MacGregor

Nathalie MacGregor is a paralegal at the National Justice Project. She works and lives on stolen Gadigal Lands. Nathalie graduated from the University of Sydney with a Bachelor of Arts (Honours Advanced Studies) in Gender and Cultural Studies and Anthropology. The authors wish to honour the memory of Naomi Williams and to pay our respects to Aunty Sharon Williams and her family without whom none of this work would have been possible.