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Each year, thousands of Australians find their lives turned upside down by illness or injury through no fault of their own.

When this happens, finding the right lawyer to guide them through the legal process is so important – it can make all the difference in helping them secure compensation and get on the best road to recovery.

Unfortunately, there are significant barriers to accessing legal services for many people living in regional and remote areas of the country.

James Goddard, a Senior Associate at Maurice Blackburn Lawyers, is passionate about helping everyday Australians when they need it most and advocates for making legal services available in regional and remote areas.

Connecting with local communities

James has worked in regional areas across North, Central and South-East Queensland for more than a decade and now leads our visiting office in Mount Isa.

“Mount Isa is unlike anywhere I’ve been before,” says James.

“Every rural community I’ve ever been to has its own sense of identity and its own sense of place.”

For James, connecting to the local community and understanding each region and town’s sense of identity is vital to helping its residents.

Learning about local industry and employers, recognising challenges faced by workers in the area, knowing the landscape and the dangers of driving on remote country roads, and being familiar with local Courts and officials are all important pieces of the puzzle in extending justice to regional and remote areas.

“It's so critical that we can meet people where they are. Access to justice shouldn’t just be for people located on the coastline,” says James.

James is driven by the desire to help people and get them back on the right path after the most difficult time of their lives.

“It is a real privilege to be invited into the lives of people we act for.”

Barriers to accessing legal services in remote regions

Recent statistics show that while a third of all Australians live in regional and remote areas, only nine per cent of all Australian lawyers practise in rural areas.

While technology has made it easier to access legal services in remote locations, several barriers remain.

Unreliable or expensive phone and internet connections, as well as lower rates of digital literacy, mean that options such as teleconferencing and videoconferencing aren’t always available.

Often, travelling to the closest major city to meet with a lawyer or attend Court is the only option. However, the costs and travel time associated with travelling long distances can be prohibitive.

Making it easier to access legal services

Extending justice to all Australians starts with having lawyers available on the ground in regional and remote areas.

The Law Council of Australia has made recruiting and retaining lawyers in “rural, regional, and remote” areas a key policy area, advocating for several programs to attract more lawyers to regional practice, including the Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) debt relief.

We are committed to making it easier for everyday Australians to access justice wherever they live.

With 33 offices across the country and another 29 visiting offices in regional Victoria and Queensland, we have lawyers close to you who can explain your rights and help you navigate the compensation process.

No matter where you are, reaching out for initial legal advice is the most important step.

“We can help you know where you stand and what your rights are, and then you can make a choice knowing what’s available to you,” says James.

You may be entitled to compensation if you or a family member can’t work due to an injury or illness.

Contact us to talk to one of our experienced, caring lawyers about your rights and entitlements, or use our free claim check tool to find out if you’re eligible.

Dedicated workers' compensation claim lawyers

Our specialist work injury lawyers are here to help. If you've suffered an injury at work that has affected your physical or psychological wellbeing, we can help you get back on track so you can focus on getting better. Find out how we can assist you with your work injury claim.

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We have lawyers who specialise in a range of legal claims who travel to Australian Capital Territory. If you need a lawyer in Canberra or elsewhere in Australian Capital Territory, please call us on 1800 675 346.

We have lawyers who specialise in a range of legal claims who travel to Tasmania. If you need a lawyer in Hobart, Launceston or elsewhere in Tasmania, please call us on 1800 675 346.