Far West Regional Law Soc roundtable focuses on access to justice

NSW Law Soc, Legal Aid NSW and Aboriginal Legal Service leaders will take part in the discussion

Far West Regional Law Soc roundtable focuses on access to justice

The Far West Regional Law Society held a roundtable discussion to address the critical issue of legal access in Far West communities.

Leaders from the NSW Law Society, Legal Aid NSW and the Aboriginal Legal Service took part in the discussion, as did representatives of the local profession, the Far West Community Legal Centre, and the court.

“With 15 solicitors from six law practices servicing almost 160,000 square kilometres, people living in Far West communities including Broken Hill, endure enormous barriers to justice”, NSW Law Society Brett McGrath said in a media release. "Broken Hill itself has just a handful of solicitors in private practice and just one who regularly practises in criminal law. This can leave some accused with no choice but to represent themselves. Access to proper legal advice can mean the difference between incarceration and an accused person keeping their jobs and supporting their families".

He explained that working in rural, regional and remote areas could provide practitioners looking to expand their range.

"Solicitors working in these regions can make a life-changing difference to people facing diverse legal challenges from criminal law, family law, tenancy, and helping financially vulnerable clients deal with credit and debt issues before they become insurmountable", McGrath said.

Steven Wright, president of the Far West Regional Law Society, pointed to the Law Council of Australia’s scheme to convince solicitors to work in these areas for at least two years.

“Relief for HELP (also known as HECS) debt is already helping regional communities recruit doctors, nurse practitioners and teachers to where they’re most needed. A similar scheme developed by the LCA late last year could likewise help our communities obtain the access to justice they need”, he said.

Wright added that governments needed to invest in infrastructure and services to make remote communities more liveable.

 

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