Access to Professional Services
The issues that prevent there being sufficient services for rural people and sufficient support for rural professionals include some that are specific to a particular profession and many that are common to all.
Inequity of access to professional services goes to the heart of communities. It spills over into difficulties attracting new staff, conducting businesses, promoting opportunities and creating new enterprises.
UNE spans many professional workforces essential to rural communities. In 2008 it held a Rural Professional Services summit representing over 30 professional workforce groups where participants scoped a research program to improve rural access to professional services.
The Summit identified the challenges as being about workforce, welfare of rural professionals and innovations in the delivery of services. It specifically identified 14 high-priority research issues.
The research project now being implemented focuses on these 14 issues such as; needs of professional services, recruitment and retention, CPD, supporting professional associations, and individual needs.
In August 2009 a live survey, seeking responses on the needs of professional services and individuals, was forwarded to representatives from each of the organisations who participated in the 2008 Rural Professions Summit.
Data collected from this survey will be compiled and analysed to access available technologies to meet the expressed needs.
This work will be undertaken in conjunction with Professor Belinda Tynan, leader of the DEHub project, and staff across UNE.
Also anticipated is a publication reporting on the results of the survey and a workshop with stakeholders to explore other avenues of meeting the needs of skilled staff and the professions they represent.
The co-ordinator for this project is Dr Amanda Kennedy, Deputy Director, AgLaw Centre, UNE.