RLC in the Media: The Sydney suburbs where the most children received COVID-19 fines

Children in the western Sydney suburbs of Blacktown, Parramatta and Liverpool were the most likely to be fined for breaching COVID-19 rules, receiving multitudes more infringements than comparable centres around the city.

Michael Koziol reports

The top eight suburbs where minors were fined were all in western Sydney, with Penrith, Mount Druitt, Campbelltown, St Marys and Bankstown rounding out the list, followed by Haymarket in Sydney’s CBD and Dubbo.

Those western Sydney suburbs were mostly located in “areas of concern” where the government applied more severe restrictions, including curfews and banning people leaving the area for work unless they were an approved worker.

But the difference in the number of children fined was significant. While 220 minors were fined in Blacktown, 128 in Parramatta and 111 in Liverpool, just 26 were fined in Sydney CBD, three in Surry Hills, nine in Manly and 19 in Bondi, Bondi Beach and Bondi Junction combined.

Most fines to minors were issued for breaking lockdown rules - leaving home without a reasonable excuse - or failure to wear or carry a face mask. Only 50 of nearly 4000 fines related to breaking the curfew in areas of concern.

The data was released by NSW Police to Redfern Legal Centre under freedom of information laws, and covered the period from the start of the pandemic in 2020 until June 4, 2022. The vast majority of fines were issued during last year’s long Delta lockdown.

Samantha Lee, a senior solicitor at Redfern Legal Centre, said it was “distorted” to say children in western Sydney were fined more just because they were subject to stricter rules and flouted them.

“They were areas that were policed more. They were areas where people were out of the house more because their parents needed to work. They’re in smaller houses. It’s not an equal playing field out there,” she said.

“It’s the most economically vulnerable parts of Sydney. It was a hard enough time for kids as it was, let alone having to fine them.”

Read full article: The Sydney suburbs where the most children received COVID-19 fines (Sydney Morning Herald, 29 July 2022)