Every day, we see Victorian clients facing crippling uncertainty about their fines that are a direct consequence of their homelessness. Although the new fines system has some positive reforms for people experiencing homelessness, many are not working in practice. The need for further reforms to Victoria’s fines system was recognised by the Fines Reform Advisory Board’s recommendations in December 2020 and the Victorian government’s response.
The first opportunity is to introduce a reformulated special circumstances ‘nexus test’, which will make the fines review process fairer and more accessible. The second opportunity relates to making Fines Victoria’s fines-enforcement review decisions final and binding. If both of these recommendations are implemented, they would reduce the adverse impact of fines on Victorians experiencing homelessness, as well as improve efficiencies and decrease the backlog of matters for Fines Victoria and the Magistrates’ Court.
As Victorians continue to feel the social and economic impacts of COVID-19, improving the fines system is essential for our community’s recovery process.