Report finds First Nations and disadvantaged children were targeted by COVID-19 fines

Tyler Mitchell By Tyler Mitchell Jun10,2024
The report, commissioned by the Redfern Legal Centre, the Public Interest Advocacy Centre and Aboriginal Legal Service, found young people living with cognitive impairment, experiencing homelessness, socio-economic challenges or unsafe home environments were also over-represented.
More than 3,600 children were issued fines for breaching public health orders during the pandemic, most for $1000, and some as high as $5000.
The youngest to receive a fine in NSW was ten years old.

The report’s authors said these fines compounded existing disadvantages for children from marginalised backgrounds.

“Fines were handed out predominantly in towns with high First Nations populations, and also towns of low socioeconomic backgrounds,” said Camilla Pandolfini, CEO of Redfern Legal Centre.
While young people in NSW are given the option to reduce fines by engaging in unpaid work through work and development orders, this option presents its own challenges.

“They can’t go and get, for example, a learner’s permit until they clear those debts,” report author Julia Quilter said.

“They effectively have to work off the fine at about a thousand dollars a month. And for some kids that could be some months.”
Pandolfini said research proves issuing children with financial penalties doesn’t work.
“It’s been shown that fines have a very low deterrent effect on children, and instead, what fines do is often increase the possibility that children will be criminalised,” she said.
The report makes twelve recommendations for changes to policy and police practice, which the authors say would ensure existing disadvantage is no longer exacerbated by fines.
“The main suggestion we have is to stop issuing fines to young people. So, we think that there should be a complete removal of the capacity to fine a young person,” Ms Quilter said.

“[Children] simply don’t have the capacity to pay those fines, and they’re disproportionate to the type of so-called offending.”

Tyler Mitchell

By Tyler Mitchell

Tyler is a renowned journalist with years of experience covering a wide range of topics including politics, entertainment, and technology. His insightful analysis and compelling storytelling have made him a trusted source for breaking news and expert commentary.

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One thought on “Report finds First Nations and disadvantaged children were targeted by COVID-19 fines”
  1. Do you think implementing community service instead of fines could be a more effective approach in these cases?

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