Regional, Rural, Remote and Very Remote (4Rs) Network

About the network

The 4Rs Network is a network of non-profit legal services in 4Rs areas which provide legal and related assistance via an incorporated non-profit structure or auspicing arrangement.

The 4Rs Network’s services are based in and/or service localities within four of the five classes of remoteness including:

  • Inner regional Australia
  • Outer regional Australia
  • Remote Australia
  • Very remote Australia

The 4Rs Network members work with and for their communities and regions. Their methods and programs often reflect deep understanding and long-term efforts to address important community needs. Their programs, services and advocacy often reflect involvement in community issues that have not been addressed by other means, including by local, state, or federal governments.

The 4Rs Network has been facilitated from within, and supported by Community Legal Centres Australia and builds on a significant history of community legal centre-based networking from the mid 1990s seeking to address the specific and nuanced legal needs and rights of regional, rural, remote and very remote communities and thereby increase the wellbeing those living within them.

The network recently made a federal 2024-5 federal pre-budget submission. Supporters are encouraged to connect and assist. The 4Rs Network meets by Zoom on the first Wednesday of each month and can be contacted via Cheryll Rosales or co-convenors Haley McEwen and Judy Harrison.

NDIS standing committee submission

March 2024

The Joint Standing Committee on the National Disability Insurance Scheme is tasked with inquiring into the implementation of the NDIS, and its terms of reference specifically commit it to reporting on the NDIS participant experience in rural, regional and remote Australia. This submission notes that there are significant numbers of disabled people and NDIS participants in these areas, and calls for adequate planning and resourcing for meeting their legal needs.

Pre-budget submission

February 2024

Recent media coverage has focused on the critical lack of access to lawyers in Alice Springs for Aboriginal people in criminal proceedings because of unfilled positions. But legal workforce problems are not limited to Alice Springs. The issues are much larger, as reflected in the number of unfilled positions in many high needs areas in 4Rs Australia. Lack of a national 4Rs legal workforce plan must be addressed. Staff shortages are occurring against a backdrop of major underfunding of non-profit legal services in 4Rs Australia. The Network has proposed doubling the level of funding to Aboriginal Community-Controlled and other community-based non-profit legal services in 4Rs areas, reflecting the dramatic shortfalls.

Submission to the NLAP review

October 2023

In its submission to the review of NLAP (the principal funding instrument for the community legal sector), the 4Rs Network calls for an  Access to Justice Strategy and Action Plan, increased finding and capacity across multiple portfolios to respond to the needs of 4R areas, the elimination of bias against 4R areas in the current NLAP and the establishment of standards for access to legal assistance.

Robodebt Royal Commission submission

February 2023

Despite the scale and impacts of Robodebt and the level of inquiry and analysis, the full legal, social and political geography of Robodebt is yet to be reflected and analysed in 4Rs areas. The Robodebt fiasco demonstrates intense siloing of social security portfolio interests at the ministerial and departmental levels, and highlights the profound lack of social security legal help for people in 4R areas.