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6 December 2010
Deakin University academics have been awarded a $58,000 grant to help improve law services for rural people.
A framework will be developed to explore the establishment of a Centre for Rural and Regional Law and Justice to address the disadvantage experienced by rural and regional Victorians in accessing the justice system.
The Victorian Law Foundation has awarded a grant of $58,000 to the Head of the Deakin Law School, Professor Anne Rees and Richard Coverdale from the University's School of Law to scope the development of the proposed centre.
The funding was announced at the inaugural National Rural Regional Law and Justice Conference in Warrnambool by Law Foundation Board representative Brendan Sydes.
Mr Coverdale said rural and regional Australians experienced disadvantage compared with those living in metropolitan areas when they tried to access justice system services and institutions, but to date there had been no focussed and co-ordinated response to the issues.
"This project seeks to establish a framework for a Centre for Rural and Regional Law and Justice which will focus on the experiences of people living in rural and regional Victoria when seeking to access justice system services and when dealing with justice system administration," he said.
Mr Coverdale said the centre would cohesively, collaboratively and actively work towards addressing the issues to ensure equity of outcomes for rural and regional Victorians.
Professor Rees said the proposed centre would fulfil an important role in seeking to improve services to regional Victorians.
"It is widely recognised that regional areas are not as well serviced as metropolitan areas in relation to law and justice services, and developing the centre would bring a greater effort to redress that imbalance."
While initially focusing on Victoria, the centre's outcomes could eventually help all rural, regional and remote areas.
The proposed centre will:
• act as a forum of individuals, agencies and peak bodies to focus attention on and pursue reforms needed to improve the provision of law and justice related services, processes and resources to rural and regional Victoria;
• generate research on rural and regional justice issues deemed a priority by the Centre Council;
• attract funding to undertake research and broadly publish and promote research findings;
• provide services and expertise, drawing on current research knowledge, skills and experience of participating organisations to inform, advise and support the development and delivery of 'best practice' justice system related services, programs and policies, impacting on rural and regional Victoria.
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