Deakin University has announced it will host Australia's first ever national Rural and Regional Law and Justice Conference in November this year.
The two-day conference, to be held in Warrnambool in Victoria's south, will be opened by Chief Justice Robert French and will tackle challenges prevalent in rural and regional areas such as social justice, practitioner issues, and legal system administration.
Conference organiser Richard Coverdale told Lawyers Weekly the conference is a response to recent research which has highlighted numerous difficulties facing rural and regional areas in terms of access to justice, and hopes that the conference will go some way to remedying those concerns.
"What we are trying to do is look at developing recommendations, suggestions and solutions," he said. "The whole conference will be focused around the development of ideas and strategies on how we can address the issues that are being raised."
According to Coverdale, some of the primary problems identified thus far include maintaining vibrant communities, attracting services and providing a justice system which is accessible to all - regardless of who they are and where they live.
"The principal desired outcome is to put rural and regional law and justice issues on the map," he said.
"There are factors or segments or particular topics that are currently being dealt with, but a whole range of others that aren't."
The Conference Organising Committee hopes to attract around 100 delegates with confirmed keynote speakers including Sarah McAdam, CEO of the UK Commission for Rural Communities, and Alexander Ward, president elect of the Law Council of Australia.
The organising committee added that as well as government representatives, legal aid and private lawyers, they are also hoping to attract police, youth, indigenous and welfare representatives.
The committee is now calling for the submission of paper abstracts to be considered for presentation at the conference.
For more information, or to submit an abstract, visit www.deakin.edu.au/rrjconference
- Claire Chaffey