Alastair Nicholson

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Alastair Nicholson
Born (1938-08-19) 19 August 1938 (age 79)
Melbourne, Victoria
Alma mater University of Melbourne
Occupation Barrister; Jurist
Military career
Allegiance Australia
Service/branch Royal Australian Air Force Reserve
Years of service 1959–92
Rank Air Vice Marshal
Unit Legal Reserve
Commands held Judge Advocate General (1987–92)
Awards Officer of the Order of Australia
Reserve Force Decoration

Alastair Bothwick Nicholson, AO, RFD, QC (born 19 August 1938) was the Chief Justice of the Family Court of Australia from 1988 until 2004.

Early life and education[edit]

Nicholson was born in 1938 in Melbourne returning with his mother Jean to Papua New Guinea, at that time an Australian territory, where his parents owned a rubber and coconut plantation. He was educated at Scotch College Melbourne where he was a boarder, and studied law at the University of Melbourne.


He was admitted as a legal practitioner in Victoria in 1961, and joined the Victorian Bar in 1963. He was appointed Queen's Counsel in 1979 and was a Justice of the Supreme Court of Victoria between 1982 and 1988.

He has long been involved in the Australian Defence Force, being Judge Advocate General between 1987 and 1992. His military involvement commenced with his appointment as a flight lieutenant in the Legal Reserve of the Royal Australian Air Force, through service in Australia and in Vietnam and at Butterworth in Malaysia as defence counsel and Judge Advocate leading ultimately to his promotion to the rank of air vice marshal.

Since 2003 he has been an Honorary Professorial Fellow of the University of Melbourne, originally attached to the Department of Criminology until 2009 and subsequently to the Faculty of Law; and he has been the Chair of the National Centre Against Bullying. He was the founding patron of Children's Rights International in 2001 and has been Chair of that organisation since March 2010. He has been the patron of International Social Service Australia since 2008.


Legal offices
Preceded by
Elizabeth Evatt
Chief Justice of the Family Court of Australia
Succeeded by
Diana Bryant