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Call for fairer public transport penalties system for secondary students

Call for fairer public transport penalties system for secondary students

By Kerry O'Shea

Punishment Sentencing 


The Law Institute of Victoria supports the proposal by Western Community Legal Centre to reform the public transport penalties system for secondary students.

The Western Community Legal Centre and Julian Burnside will launch “Fare Go – Myki, Transport Poverty and Access to Education in Melbourne’s West” at Victoria University Law School on Tuesday, 22 March.

Young people are legally required to attend school up to the age of 17 years. However, the families of many secondary students are unable to afford the costs of public transport to attend school. In many cases, students are receiving fines that they and their families do not have the capacity to pay.

Students with unpaid fines can end up before the Children's Court. Data from the Children's Court shows that only 12 per cent of children respond to hearings for nonpayment of fines. There were more than 7000 unexecuted warrants for non-payment of fines by young people in 2014-15. Young people rarely have property that can be seized by their sheriff.

“The system seems to be an inefficient and inappropriate way of dealing with the problem of secondary students and public transport fines,” said LIV president Steven Sapountsis.

The LIV will be making a submission in relation to the Fines Reform Amendment Bill 2016 that was introduced into Parliament in late February 2016. The submission will include the following:

  • the current fines system has entrenched further disadvantage and criminalised poverty for vulnerable Victorians
  • the amount of someone’s fine should be proportionate to their income
  • the introduction of reduced fines for all infringements (not just public transport fines) for children under 18 years, or
  • the inclusion of hardship provisions for on the spot infringements to enable young people up to 18 years experiencing financial stress to apply for fines to be reduced to a sum proportionate to their income
  • support for the introduction of instalment payments, and the “work and development permit scheme” for vulnerable and disadvantaged people.

“Fare Go – Myki, Transport Poverty and Access to Education in Melbourne’s West” will be launched at 10am on Tuesday, 22 March at Lecture Theatre GL01, Victoria University, 295 Queen Street, Melbourne.

For further information regarding this media release please contact:
Kerry O'Shea, General Manager, Public Affairs & Legal Policy

T: 03 9607 9373

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