Time and social space in South Australian rural health social work practice

Michelle Jones, Fiona Verity, Ellen Harvey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aims: To gain a deeper understanding of rural health social workers' professional judgement and decision-making in the complex rural and regional environments within which they work. Methods: In-depth semi-structured interviews were undertaken with South Australian rural health social work leadership team members (n = 10), with focus groups (n = 14) before and after the interviews. Findings: Rural health social workers drew on both spatial and temporal understandings of their professional judgements and decision-making when explaining their rural health social work practice. Concepts of rural time, rural social space and acts of resistance were identified within the rich descriptions of professional judgement and decision-making in practice provided by the rural health social workers. ‘Rural time’ refers to the additional work that is done by rural health social workers across both their rural personal and professional social spaces. Conclusions: Institutional, systemic and spatial factors, constituted as they are of power dynamics, have implications for the skills needed to maintain a social justice practice. Clear-sighted analysis of these complexities, in the context of social power, can support this ongoing and longer-term project.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)467-473
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Rural Studies
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023


  • Rural Health
  • Hospital
  • Qualitative
  • Rural
  • Social space
  • Health
  • Social work
  • Time


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