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Rural Issues in the Spotlight

Rural issues on the agenda a major law conference in Sydney

By Matt Dombrovski – Solicitor

4 October 2016

Recently, three of our solicitors attended the annual Rural Issues Conference in Sydney, hosted by the New South Wales Law Society’s Rural Issues Committee.

The event focuses on some of the key issues affecting practitioners in rural areas, as opposed to our metropolitan counterparts.

Among the topic discussed on the day were:

  • The drug ‘ice’ and the Impacts on Lawyers and Communities in Regional NSW
  • Family Violence and Its Impacts in Regional New South Wales
  • Native Vegetation and Biodiversity
  • Mining and Land Access Issues

With a panel comprising a Local Court Magistrate, the CEO of a national drug foundation and the managing solicitor of a Legal Aid office, the discussion around the use of ‘ice’ in rural areas was always going to be fairly candid.

The eventual conclusion from the panel was that whilst significant resources are being provided to police, similar resources are not being provided either to the court system, or out in the community to support those people who have been affected by the drug.

There was also an emphasis on the need for greater equity in funding for rural areas, with those people who need support in metropolitan areas able to achieve better outcomes than their rural counterparts simply because of the infrastructure and resources available where they live.

Similarly, when considering the issue of family violence, attention was drawn to a number of the factors which contribute to over-representation of domestic violence issues in rural areas. These include excessive alcohol consumption, social isolation, mental health and behavioural issues and financial stressors.

Again, the common focus appeared to be that until some equity in funding for support services in rural areas was achieved, these issues would continue.

Many of our clients are affected by issues of native vegetation and biodiversity protections, and access to properties by mining companies for exploration purposes.

Presentations on these issues highlighted the need for people owning rural properties to ensure that they thoroughly investigate their obligations before undertaking any land clearing activities, and the potential liability they face if they do not do so.

The presentations also highlighted some of the investigative processes that mining companies undertake in exploring for minerals on farmlands, and the broad scope that negotiations can take in the event that necessary minerals are located.

By the close of the conference, it was clear to see that whilst there may be some challenges facing our clients living in rural areas into the future, the solicitors who practice in those areas are passionate about seeing the best possible outcomes for their local communities. 

For more details or to obtain assistance in relation to any of the above issues, please contact us on 1800 643 779.