Finally, new legislation providing common sense alternatives to prison for people who cannot pay their fines has passed the WA Parliament.

After months of consultation with MPs across the political parties, Community Legal WA celebrated with member organisations of Social Reinvestment WA and supporting MPs who secured this Bill's passage. These law reform changes will make a real difference to people suffering genuine hardship and unable to pay their fines.   

Social Reinvestment WA Co-Chair Glenda Kickett: 

“Many people jailed for being unable to pay their fines were living in poverty, with women also adversely impacted.” she said.  “Aboriginal people were significantly overrepresented in this group, leading to tragic outcomes.” 

“Ultimately, fine default led to the untimely death in custody of Ms Dhu in 2014 in a South Hedland cell, detained by police for just over $3000 in unpaid fines.   The findings of the coronial inquest into Ms Dhu’s death led to several recommendations which Social Reinvestment WA strongly advocated for.”

Social Reinvestment WA Fines Committee Chair & Executive Director of Community Legal WA, Sharryn Jackson:

“Following months of consultation with Social Reinvestment WA and member organisations, we are pleased the new legislation includes common sense alternatives for people who cannot pay their fines.”

“We particularly welcome the adoption of our recommendation to acknowledge the impact of hardship on an individual’s capacity to pay a fine.”  

“The Attorney-General is to be congratulated for his changes to the legislation to protect people in our community who can demonstrate genuine hardship, with the introduction of a Statutory Principle of Hardship

Read the full media statement 

Picture Credit: Social Reinvestment WA

From Left to Right: Social Reinvestment WA: Co Chair Glenda Kickett, Fines Committee Chair Sharryn Jackson (Community Legal WA), Campaign Coordinator Sophie Stewart, Louise Giolitto & Graham Hansen (WACOSS), Jennifer Snell (Uniting WA), Ethan James (WANADA), Carol Bahemia (First Nations Deaths In Custody Watch Committee Inc.), Ann Margaret Walsh (Street Law Centre WA), Geoff Bice (Uniting Church Western Australia), Caitlin Smith (Amnesty International Australia), Mason Rothwell (Youth Affairs Council of Western Australia), Noel Johnstone (EDAC), Hannah Woodward (Save the Children Australia).

From Parliament: Attorney General John Quigley, Minister Fran Logan MLA , Minister Sue Ellery MLC, Alison Xamon MLC (Greens), Colin Holt MLC, Member for the South West Region (Nationals), Hon Robin Scott MLC (One Nation), Simon Millman MLA (Labor), Janine Freeman (Labor), Minister Stephen Dawson MLC, Jessica Stojkovski MLA (Labor), Lisa O'Malley MLA (Labor).

Read more about the campaign to end imprisonment for unpaid fines.