Unpaid fines debts to be worked off

STEP FORWARD: A scheme designed to allow disadvantaged people to work off their debts has been praised.
STEP FORWARD: A scheme designed to allow disadvantaged people to work off their debts has been praised.

A FREE legal service to help people on the Coffs Coast fix up fines is being launched in Coffs Harbour today.

Local State Member Andrew Fraser will launch a new legal service to help the most disadvantaged members of the community apply for an order to 'work off' their unpaid fines.

"Work and Development Orders (WDOs) allow people in poverty, who are homeless, or who have a mental illness or an intellectual disability, to 'work off' their court fines and/or penalty notice debts by doing courses, unpaid work or undertaking treatment," Mr Fraser said.

The NSW Government recently made the Work and Development Order Scheme permanent and provided additional funding to improve the scheme and help people access WDOs across the State.

With the new funding, Legal Aid NSW has established a WDO Service for the Mid North Coast region based in Coffs Harbour.

"This service represents an important part of the NSW Government's commitment to breaking the cycle of disadvantage and reducing rates of re-offending in the community," NSW Attorney General Greg Smith said.

"The WDO Service is unique in that it encourages participants to get mental health or drug and alcohol treatment and also helps people reduce their fines debt by undertaking unpaid work with approved organisations and health practitioners."

Mr Fraser added that the introduction of such a scheme stops the amount of debt from fines spiralling out of control if they're unable to be paid on time.

"Fines debt can escalate and people can end up losing their driver's licence or be drawn into criminal activity," he said.

"Lawyers from Legal Aid at Coffs Harbour will give people legal advice about their fines and help them to take the next step to regain control over their fines debt.

"Lawyers will educate people about how to deal with fine debts and how to apply for WDOs.

"They will also help organisations and health practitioners on the Mid North Coast to participate in the WDO Scheme by becoming registered to supervise people on WDO's."

Topics:  fines

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