Authors: Ms Kim Victoria Browne
Abstract:In Australia there is a city-orientated application towards legal education and a failure to mandate compulsory rural legal practice contexts within the undergraduate law curriculum. This has occurred despite the fact that Australians reside in different regions across the vast continent. While Australians live in many different types of communities, ranging from capital cities and large regional areas to small country towns and remote communities, the Indigenous population has a much greater concentration in the more remote areas. This paper argues for greater inclusion of rural content and Indigenous learning outcomes in Australian undergraduate law courses. The advantage of integrating a sense of geographical inclusion and social and cultural diversity into the law curricula is that it will displace urban bias, including the perception that the practice of law is experienced uniformly across Australia. Instead, rural inclusive education will expose students to legal practice within the context of the ‘bush’ and provide them with an understanding of contemporary challenges confronting rural areas and remote Indigenous communities. Furthermore, in providing law students with an appreciation of the social and cultural diversity of rural communities, together with a greater empathy of Indigenous cultural matters and insightfulness into social justice issues, it will inform students of the opportunities that exist in rural communities. Importantly, several studies in the area of medical curriculum development have demonstrated an association between inclusion of rural contexts within undergraduate programmes and increased likelihood of engaging in rural practice. This is supported by similar findings in the fields of nursing, social welfare and education.
Keywords: Law, graduates, Indigenous, cultural competency, rural, regional & remote; curriculum development, threshold learning outcomes