Professional Services and Rural Services Poverty

Paul Martin, Jacqueline Williams, Amanda Kennedy


It is a fact that rural people suffer from professional services deprivation relative to their urban counterparts. Access to legal services is one form of this deprivation. Whilst often understood as a workforce problem, the issue has broader implications for the economic and social welfare of communities and the professionals who try to serve their needs. In particular the inability to access sufficient ‘knowledge services’ lies at the heart of many problems of rural social exclusion, the cost of which falls inevitably on those who are less mobile, or less capable of securing wealth. This paper takes a systemic look at rural professional services delivery, placing legal services in their larger context as part of the (often incomplete) professional network that supports communities. It outlines the systemic problem and aspects of the specific issues for rural professional services. It presents the results from a survey and a summit organised to discuss the issues that span various professions, and outlines some of the directions that the legal profession might take.

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