Moree residents with unpaid fines may have the opportunity to work them off or come to another arrangement at a special event on Thursday (December 7) aimed at reducing the significantly high amount the community currently owes to Revenue NSW.
The Moree community owes more than $2 million in unpaid fines to Revenue NSW and as a result, Moree Aboriginal Community Justice Group has decided to do something about it.
In conjunction with Department of Justice – Aboriginal Services Unit and Revenue NSW, the Justice Group has organised an event at Moree Court House to help address the problem.
A representative from Justice NSW will be on hand to look up people’s fines, giving them an exact amount of what’s owed.
People then have the option to pay their fines on the spot, or sign up to a Work Development Order (WDO).
A WDO allows eligible people who have a mental illness, intellectual disability or cognitive impairment, are homeless, are experiencing acute economic hardship, or have a serious addiction to drugs/alcohol/volatile substances to satisfy their fine debt through unpaid work with an approved organisation or by undertaking certain courses or treatment.
The reduction of a fines debt will be determined by the type of activity completed as part of a WDO.
A number of local WDO-approved services will also be on hand to provide information.
Moree Local Court Aboriginal client and community support officer Jaki French said WDOs are a great solution for those who may otherwise be unable to pay their fines.
“Different services provide different activities, from courses at TAFE through to mental health counselling,” she said.
“The beauty of it is that people can work off their fines and if they do a course at TAFE or community college, they can come out with a qualification or certificate at the end of it.”
Legal Aid NSW will also attend the day to help provide a path back to lawful driving for locals who have previously been disqualified from driving but have worked to regain the community’s trust.
Ms French encourages all members of the community to come along and find out more.
“Having a lot of fines holds people back from moving ahead,” she said.
“We’ll have a one-stop shop set up so people can organise to pay their fines or sign up for a WDO.”
If people don’t pay their fines, they are referred to the State Debt Recovery Office and incur a $65 penalty, on top of what they owe, for each offence.
If that doesn’t get paid, further action will be taken including suspening people’s licence, registration or dealings with Road and Maritime Services. As a last resort, people could face jail time.
Ms French encourages the community to get on top of their unpaid fines before it gets to that.
“It’s something that they can’t push away because it’ll come back and bite them,” she said.
The event will get underway at Moree Local Court on Thursday, December 7 from 9.30am with a Welcome to Country and performance by an Aboriginal Dance Group.
Services will be set up until about 3pm, with a barbecue lunch provided.