RLC in the Media: ‘Fewer fines and more compassion’

Redfern Legal Centre called for fewer fines and more compassion in south-western Sydney, as the Covid-19 outbreak grows.

Peter Hackney reports for Sydney Sentinel

Samantha Lee, solicitor in the police accountability practice at Redfern Legal Centre said: “Targeting communities in south-western Sydney with more police and more fines seems disproportionate and unjust.

“All communities need equal access to health information, resources and support to get through this difficult time. Increasing penalties to lower economic areas is not the answer.”

Ms Lee said confusing, constantly shifting public health orders meant people would inevitably fall foul of the law.

“In just over 15 months the NSW public health orders for gathering have changed over thirty times,” she said.

“The current laws tell people they can’t leave their house without a reasonable excuse, but allow people to go buy power tools at Bunnings. People are confused, exhausted and just trying to get by.”

Recent figures obtained by Redfern Legal Centre under freedom of information laws revealed just 22 per cent of the 1,854 public health infringement fines issued since the pandemic began have been paid in full.

Ms Lee said many people, including those who had lost their jobs during the pandemic or who were on Centrelink benefits, were unable to pay the $1000 fines, which are not means-tested.

The Redfern Legal Centre offers free legal advice about appeal and payment options for people in NSW who have been issued with a Covid-19 fine.

Read the full article (Sydney Sentinel, 9 July 2021)