National conference to examine social justice in the regions

Published 24 April 2012

A national conference on regional law and justice, to be hosted by the University of New England’s School of Law, will bring experts from across Australia and around the world to Coffs Harbour, NSW, in mid-May to discuss topics including the impact of the mining boom, Indigenous justice, and the support of rural and remote lawyers.

Keynote speakers at the 2nd National Rural and Regional Law and Justice Conference will include the Indigenous educator and researcher Jack Beetson giving “An Aboriginal perspective on rural law and justice”, and the award-winning author and journalist Paul Cleary asking “Is the mining boom a case of too much luck?”

The dinner speaker at the conference will be the leading commentator on rural democracy and justice in the United States, Jim Hightower. The author of five popular books, and twice Texas Agriculture Commissioner, Jim Hightower will be talking about challenges facing rural communities in the United States and Australia – including “fracking” associated with the coal seam gas industry.

Organised by the Schools of Law at UNE and Deakin University, the conference will be at the BreakFree Aanuka Beach Resort from the 18th to the 20th of May.

Paul Cleary’s keynote address will examine the current mining boom in Australia with particular reference to its implications for rural and regional communities. He will draw on his book Too Much Luck: the Mining Boom and Australia’s Future, published in 2011, and his forthcoming Mine-Field: the Dark Side of Australia’s Resources Frenzy. Professor Kim Economides, Director of the Legal Issues Centre at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand, will deliver a keynote address titled “Centre-periphery tensions in legal theory and practice: can law and lawyers resist urban imperialism?”

Dr Amanda Kennedy, Deputy Director of the Australian Centre for Agriculture and Law at UNE and one of the conveners of the 2nd National Rural and Regional Law and Justice Conference, said the conference would enable delegates “to share their interest in rural and regional Australia while discussing practical strategies for enhancing social justice in rural and regional communities”.

Dr Kennedy said that topics for discussion at the conference would include strategies for preparing legal students for careers in rural and regional Australia, models for managing rural conflict over natural resource management, and Indigenous inclusion.

For more information, the conference program, and registration details, or e-mail the conference conveners, Associate Professor Russell Hogg and Dr Amanda Kennedy, at rrlj@une.edu.au.