ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Inner City Legal Centre, Redfern Legal Centre and Legal Aid NSW thank Corrs Chambers Westgarth for contributing their expertise, time and other resources, without which this 2nd edition of Fined Out would not have been possible. The authors also thank Jane Sanders and Shopfront Youth Legal Service, the Financial Counsellors’ Association of NSW and the State Debt Recovery Office (SDRO) NSW. Fined Out was researched, written and edited by Jessica Gurevich, Andrew Taylor, Seth Richardson, Natalie Ross, Edward Mathenge and Sarah Carrodus. Inner City Legal Centre, Redfern Legal Centre and Legal Aid NSW are extremely grateful for their hard work and dedication to this important resource. The first edition of Fined Out (2004) was produced jointly by Inner City Legal Centre and Redfern Legal Centre. Although this edition includes the many important changes to fines enforcement in NSW, it also draws heavily on its predecessor. Therefore the authors would also like to thank the former South Sydney City Council, the City of Sydney Council, the NSW Department of Community Service and the Consumer Education Trust for contributing funds to the production of the first edition of Fined Out. CONTENTS Part 1: Introduction 6 Part 2: Penalty notices ...................................................................................................8 2 Overview ......................................................................................................8 2.1 The State Debt Recovery Office (SDRO) ..................................................10 2.2 Paying the fine ...........................................................................................11 2.3 Making part payments ................................................................................11 2.4 Applying for an internal review .................................................................12 2.5 -Telling the SDRO about special or extenuating circumstances .............14 2.5.1 -Extenuating circumstances...............................................................14 2.5.2 -You are not the driver or owner of a vehicle involved ..................15 2.6 Deciding to go to court...............................................................................17 2.7 Setting up a Time to Pay plan with the SDRO ...........................................18 2.8 Applying for a Work and Development Order (WDO) ..............................18 Part 3: Court fines19 3 Overview ....................................................................................................19 3.1 -Applying for an extension of Time to Pay or to pay by instalments ......19 3.2 Contesting a court fine ...............................................................................21 3.2.1 Appealing to the District Court .........................................................21 3.2.2 Applying to the court for annulment .................................................21 3.2.3 Applying to the Minister for annulment ............................................22 3.2.4 Referral to the SDRO ........................................................................22 Part 4: Enforcement action by the SDRO ....................................................................24 4.1 What the SDRO can do ..............................................................................24 4.2 Licence suspension and registration cancellation .......................................24 4.3 Civil action .................................................................................................25 4.3.1 Garnishee order .................................................................................25 4.3.2 Property seizure order .......................................................................25 4.3.3 Examination summons ......................................................................26 4.3.4 Charge on land ..................................................................................26 4.4 Community Service Orders (CSOs) ...........................................................26 4.5 Imprisonment .............................................................................................27 Part 5: Responding to SDRO enforcement action .......................................................29 5 Overview ....................................................................................................29 5.1 Paying the fine ...........................................................................................29 5.2 Setting up a Time to Pay plan ....................................................................29 5.2.1 The Time to Pay application process.................................................29 5.2.2 -When a Time to Pay application has been approved ....................30 5.2.3 -Making Time to Pay payments using Centrepay ..........................31 5.2.4 -If you default on your Time to Pay plan or get another enforcement order ............................................. 31 5.3 -Applying for a Work and Development Order (WDO) ............................32 5.3.1 Making the application ......................................................................33 5.3.2 Paying off the fine by a WDO ...........................................................35 5.3.3 Varying or revoking a WDO .............................................................36 5.3.4 -Becoming an approved organisation so you can support a WDO .36 5.4 Applying for a stay of an enforcement order..............................................37 5.5 Applying for an annulment ........................................................................37 5.5.1 Why apply for an annulment .............................................................37 5.5.2 How to apply for an annulment .........................................................38 5.6 Applying to have a fine written off ............................................................40 5.7 Applying to the Hardship Review Board (HRB) .......................................42 5.8 Remission of fines......................................................................................42 5.9 Bankruptcy .................................................................................................43 5.10 Having RTA restrictions removed..................................................44 Part 6: Commonwealth and interstate fines .................................................................46 6 Overview ....................................................................................................46 6.1 Commonwealth fines .................................................................................46 Part 7: Young people and fines....................................................................................47 7 Overview ....................................................................................................47 7.1 Can children be fined? ...............................................................................47 7.2 Alternatives to fines for young people .......................................................47 7.3 Sentencing principles .................................................................................48 7.4 Enforcement ...............................................................................................48 Part 8: Fines, demerit points and your driver licence ..................................................49 8 Overview ....................................................................................................49 8.1 Licence suspension ....................................................................................49 8.2 Good behaviour period ...............................................................................50 8.3 Appeal 51 8.4 Licence disqualification .............................................................................51 Part 9: Complaints, privacy and Freedom Of Information ..........................................52 9 Overview ....................................................................................................52 9.1 The NSW Ombudsman ..............................................................................52 9.2 The NSW Privacy Commissioner ..............................................................53 9.3 Freedom Of Information (FOI) ..................................................................53 Part 10: Useful contacts ...........................................................................................54 Part 11: Glossary 59 Part 12: Sample letters/documents...........................................................................62 12.1 Applying to set up a Time to Pay plan ...........................................62 12.2 -Applying for a Work and Development Order (WDO).................64 12.3 -Applying for an internal review and telling the SDRO about your special/extenuating circumstances 65 12.4 Applying for a write off .................................................................66 12.5 Applying for a stay (postponement) of proceedings.......................68 12.6Applying to THE HARDSHIP REVIEW BOARD (HRB) ............................................. 69 INTRODUCTION This book will tell you about fine enforcement (payment) procedures and the options you have for dealing with fines in NSW. Many people can’t pay a fine in full on time. When this happens, another legal process begins. The amount of the original fine can increase (because the costs of enforcement get added to it). You may have to go to court. Your driver licence may be suspended and/or your car registration may be cancelled. These things are very hard for a person to manage on their own, without advice and assistance. The most important thing to remember is this: Unpaid fines do not go away. IMPORTANT CHANGES THERE HAVE BEEN SEVERAL CHANGES TO FINES AND ENFORCEMENT SINCE FINED OUT WAS LAST UPDATED, INCLUDING: • -You can organise a Time to Pay plan with the SDRO (State Debt Recovery Office) from as soon as you get the fine. • -You can pay off a fine through a Work and Development Order (WDO), from the time you get the fine until the time a Community Service Order (CSO) has been issued. • -You can apply for an internal review (if you think the fine should be withdrawn) anytime until the due date for payment, and there are now more reasons you can use to ask for an internal review. • -You can write to the SDRO and ask to have part of a fine or a whole fine written off. • -If you are applying for a fine to be annulled (cancelled), the application fee for that doesn’t have to be paid until the fine becomes payable (if it is not annulled). • -If you are caught driving while your licence is suspended or you are disqualified because of unpaid fines, that cannot be used in a habitual offender declaration. • -You can apply for annulment of an SDRO enforcement order at any time - it doesn’t have to be within 12 months of when the SDRO began enforcement action. Approved organisation/person: A person or body approved to supervise and administer WDOs by the Director General of the Department of Justice and Attorney General. Annulment: Discontinuance of SDRO enforcement action in relation to penalty notices, and referral to the Local Court for reconsideration. Centrepay: Payments made directly from Centrelink benefits. Charge on land: An indication on the lands register that there is an interest to the value of the outstanding fine existing over the property. CLC: Community Legal Centre. Court fine: A fine imposed by a court. CSO (Community Service Order): An order requiring a fine defaulter to perform community service in order to pay off a fine. Examination summons: An order for a person to attend court to answer questions and supply information. Garnishee order: Where a third party, such as a bank or employer, holds funds on a fine defaulter’s behalf, the SDRO can make an order directing that third party to pay the SDRO from the fine defaulter’s funds. HRB (Hardship Review Board): A division of the NSW Treasury with the authority to review a decision made by the SDRO in circumstances of genuine serious financial, medical and/or personal hardship. Instalment agreement: An arrangement with the SDRO to make part payments towards a penalty notice over 2 months, without incurring additional costs (available to persons who are in temporary financial difficulty). NSW Ombudsman: An independent review body that deals with complaints against acts, decisions and omissions of most NSW government departments and agencies. RTA (Roads and Traffic Authority): The NSW government agency responsible for improving road safety, testing and licensing drivers, registering vehicles and managing the state road network. Penalty notice: A fine issued by an authorised officer such as a police officer, transit officer, parking inspector or council ranger. Also called an infringement notice. Property seizure order: An order issued by the SDRO giving the NSW Sheriff the power to seize a fine defaulter’s goods/property and auction them to raise money to pay the fine. SDRO (State Debt Recovery Office): A division of the NSW Office of State Revenue that provides a centralised system for the collection, processing and enforcement of fines issued by various government agencies and authorities. Time to Pay: An arrangement with the SDRO under which a person may apply for an extension of time in which to pay a fine. For a detailed summary, see 5.2. WDO (Work and Development Order): An order requiring a person who is on a government benefit to satisfy a fine by performing unpaid work, undergoing a specified treatment or undertaking a specified program as directed by the SDRO. For a detailed summary, see 5.3. A fine is when you have to pay money to the government because you broke the law. The Fines Act 1996 (NSW) and the Fines Regulation 2005 (NSW) set out the rules about fines. You can read the Fines Act 1996 (NSW) online (HTTP://WWW.LEGISLATION.NSW.GOV.AU). There are two types of fines: • Court fines; and • -Penalty notices (also called infringement notices or on-the-spot fines). If you are found guilty of an offence in court, one of the things the court can do is give you a fine. In addition to a fine Courts may impose a victims compensation levy, court costs and make an order that you pay witness expenses. These are treated as fines for the purposes of enforcement. There are numerous offences for which penalty notices can be issued. Common examples include: fines for travelling on public transport without a ticket or concession card, fines for polluting and fines for illegal fishing. Penalty notices can be handed to you directly or attached to a vehicle or sent by mail. They have to be given by an authorised officer (such as a police officer or public transport ticket inspector). There are separate sections in this book for penalty notices (Part 2) and court fines (Part 3), because even though there are a lot of things that are the same for both, there are some important differences – you need to start off knowing which type of fine you’ve been given. 2.1 -The State Debt Recovery Office (SDRO) Penalty notices are dealt with by the State Debt Recovery Office (SDRO), which was set up in 1998 as the fines division of the Office of State Revenue. Its job is to receive and process fines issued by various government agencies and authorities, and to make enforcement orders and take enforcement action against fine defaulters. The SDRO was set up because the government wanted to place a greater emphasis on collecting fines instead of on non-financial methods of paying off fines, such as community service orders (CSOs) and jail. Note: Fines you are given under Commonwealth, interstate and Territory laws can also be enforced in NSW by the SDRO. When you get a penalty notice, read it carefully, and make sure you look for when payment is due. Your options at this stage are: • -pay the fine (see 2.2); • -apply to pay the fine in instalments over 2 months (you can only do this if you are in financial difficulties) (see 2.3); • -ask for an internal review if there are special or extenuating circumstances (see 2.4 and 2.5); • -decide to have the matter heard in a Local Court (see 2.6); • -apply to set up a Time to Pay plan with the SDRO (see 2.7 and 5.2); or • -apply for a Work and Development Order (WDO) (see 2.8). You generally have to pay a fine within 21 days. If you do nothing about the penalty notice in that time, the SDRO will send you a reminder notice — this gives you a further 28 days to pay the fine. If you haven’t paid the fine at the end of the reminder period (21 days + 28 days), the SDRO will begin enforcement actions against you (see Part 4: Enforcement action by the SDRO). 2.2 Paying the fine If you aren’t going to contest the fine (argue that you shouldn’t have been given the fine), or have it reviewed, and you can pay it, it is best to pay it by the due date. This means there are no extra costs. Once a fine has been paid in full the fine enforcement process ends, and no further proceedings will be taken for the offence. Paying the fine does not mean you are admitting that you are guilty, but some traffic matters will stay on your record even after you have paid the fine and can be brought up in court if you are being sentenced for other driving offences (see Part 8: Fines, demerit points and your driver licence). 2.3 -Making part payments If you can’t pay the fine in full in one go, you can make part payments over 2 months. Part payments can be as little as $20.00 a fortnight, as long as the full payment is made by the due date on the penalty reminder notice. If you do not do this, the SDRO will take enforcement action for the part of the fine that is not paid, and they will charge you $50.00 enforcement cost as well. All the ways you can make payments are listed on penalty notices and penalty reminder notices. For more information on methods of payment see the SDRO website (http://www.sdro.nsw.gov.au/payments.html#pay_pn). 2.4 -Applying for an internal review You can request an internal review in relation to a penalty notice up until the due date for payment. An internal review application can be made to either the issuing agency or to the SDRO on any of the following grounds: • the penalty notice was issued contrary to law; • the issue of the penalty notice involved a mistake of identity; • -the penalty notice should not have been issued, having regard to the exceptional circumstances of the case relating to the offence; • -the person to whom the penalty notice was issued is unable, because the person has an intellectual disability, mental illness, cognitive impairment or is homeless: • to understand that the person’s conduct constituted an offence; or • to control such conduct; • an official caution should have been given instead of a penalty notice; • any other ground prescribed by the regulations. However an agency does not have to conduct an internal review if it notifies you in writing, within 10 days of receiving the application, that it has decided not to conduct a review and provides reasons for the decision. Following a review, the issuing agency must withdraw a penalty notice if any of the above grounds are found. A reviewing agency also has a discretion to withdraw a penalty notice on any other ground or give an official caution in its place. Another way to initiate an internal review by the issuing agency is to apply to the SDRO for an annulment (see Part 5.5: Applying for an annulment). If the SDRO has reason to suspect that the penalty notice should be withdrawn and no review of the decision to issue the penalty notice has been conducted, it can seek such a review, to be conducted by the issuing agency. For further information on how to apply for a internal review, see the SDRO Review Guidelines (http://www.sdro.nsw.gov.au/lib/docs/misc/br_001.pdf). An authorised officer may in certain circumstances issue a caution instead of a fine. Circumstances that might be taken into account include: • -The offence involved no risk to public safety, damage to property or financial loss, or had a significant impact on other members of the public; • -the person is homeless; • -the person has a mental illness or intellectual disability; • -the person is a child (under 18); • -the person has a special infirmity or is in very poor physical health; • -the offending behaviour is at the lower end of the seriousness scale for that offence; • -the person is cooperative and/or complies with a request to stop the offending conduct; and • -it is otherwise reasonable, in all the circumstances of the case, to give the person a caution. For further information on cautions, view the SDRO caution guidelines at: (http://www.lawlink.nsw.gov.au/lawlink/legislation_policy/ll_lpd.nsf/ pages/lp_lp_cautionguideline s). 2.5 -Telling the SDRO about special or extenuating circumstances 2.5.1 Extenuating circumstances If you believe there are special circumstances in your case, or you want to ask for leniency (a smaller fine, or being let off the fine altogether), you can fill out a Request Review of Penalty Notice form and give it to the SDRO. You have to add any supporting documents if you are asking to have the penalty notice withdrawn. The form is on the SDRO website. The SDRO Review Guidelines explain what evidence you need to provide when you ask for this type of review: (http://www.sdro.nsw.gov.au/lib/docs/misc/br_001.pdf). The SDRO might do this kind of review if: • -it was a medical emergency (such as taking someone who needs urgent medical attention to a hospital); • -there was a mechanical breakdown (if your car was parked in a no parking zone, for instance); • -you’ve had a good driving record for the last 10 years. The SDRO will only consider requests for review if they receive them before the due date for payment of the penalty notice. However, you can also apply for an internal review directly to the agency that gave you the penalty notice. That agency has to tell you, in writing, the result of the review within 14 days of when they get your request (56 days if they have asked you for more information). The SDRO will not consider applications for leniency for some more serious offences, such as: • -excessive speeding (speeding over 30km/h over the limit); • -using a mobile phone while driving; • -ignoring RailCorp safety notices; and • -unauthorised use of mobility parking permits. If the SDRO does not withdraw the penalty notice, they will tell you by a letter and you will need to pay the fine by the new due date. Further time will be given to pay the fine. For more information, see this NSW Ombudsman Factsheet: (http://www.nswombudsman.nsw.gov.au/publication/PDF/factsheets/Discretionary%20Powers.pdf). 2.5.2 -You are not the driver or owner of the vehicle involved If you own the vehicle involved but were not driving it (or in control of it) at the time of the offence you can fill out a statutory declaration that says who was driving the vehicle, or who owns it, and give it to the SDRO. There is a statutory declaration form on the back of the penalty reminder notice. You can also buy them at newsagents or download them from the SDRO website. A statutory declaration must be witnessed by a solicitor or a Justice of the Peace. When you give the statutory declaration to the SDRO the penalty notice should be withdrawn. You have to make sure the SDRO gets the statutory declaration before the due date for payment of the fine. It is a criminal offence to provide false or misleading information on a statutory declaration. You can be fined up to $11,000.00 or given up to 7 years in jail. You can’t use this statutory declaration process if you were given an ’on-the-spot’ fine by a police officer, a rail transit officer or another authorised government officer. Note: If you have sold or given away a vehicle and have not yet updated your records at the NSW Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA), and you get a penalty notice for an offence involving that vehicle, you should update your records at the RTA immediately (see Who and how to tell about a change of address, on the following page). When you sell or give away a vehicle, make sure you give the person who is getting the vehicle a completed application form for transfer of registration. The new owner must lodge this form, along with stamp duty and the transfer fee, with the RTA within 14 days of getting the vehicle. WHO AND HOW TO TELL ABOUT A CHANGE OF ADDRESS As well as telling our phone, gas and electricity supplier, plus our friends and family and anyone else who sends us bills or money, we need to let these organisations know when we move house: RTA Fill in the application online at: (http://www.rta.nsw.gov.au/myrta/myaddress/index.html) Tel: 132 213 Visit a motor registry office. Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) (and State Electoral Office (SEO)) Once you have lived at a new address for 28 days, fill in an electoral enrolment form and send it to your Divisional AEC office or scan it and email it to email@example.com. You can get the forms and prepaid envelopes from an AEC office, the SEO and post offices, or from your state or federal MP’s office, or from: (http://www.aec.gov.au/Enrolling_to_vote/Update_enrolment.htm) AEC Tel: 132 326 SEO Tel: 135 736 And because we all forget to tell someone, we can also do this: Australia Post Fill in and lodge an Application to Redirect Mail at any Australia Post outlet. You can also download the form from: (http://movingservices.com.au/manage_your_mail/redirect_mail) Tel: 131 318 2.6 Deciding to go to court You can decide to go to a Local Court (or the Children’s Court if you are a young person) about your penalty notice if you: • -believe you are not guilty; or • -believe the penalty is too harsh. To do this, fill out the court election form on the back of the penalty notice or on the SDRO website - (http://www.sdro.nsw.gov.au/lib/docs/forms/sdr_pn_020.pdf) and send it to the SDRO before the due date for payment of the fine. The SDRO will send you a notice telling you when to come to court. It’s a good idea to get legal advice before you do any of this, because the maximum fine a court can give you may be much higher than the amount in the penalty notice, and the court can order you to pay some court costs as well. You may be able to get free legal advice from your local community legal centre, LawAccess NSW or Legal Aid NSW (see Part 10: Useful contacts). If you do decide to go to court, you can try to talk to the prosecutor before the court date about any special or extenuating circumstances relating to the offence, and see if you can get the penalty notice withdrawn before it goes to court. It is not always clear exactly what offence the penalty notice relates to. To find out, ask the SDRO (or the authority that gave you the penalty notice) what section of what Act (an Act is a law) the offence is in. Then you can go to the NSW government website (http://www.legislation.nsw.gov.au) and follow the links to that section of that Act and check the minimum and maximum penalties for the offence. These will be set out as ‘penalty units’. A penalty unit is $110.00 at the moment, so if the maximum fine is 10 penalty units, that means it is $1,100.00. You may be able to get legal information and help with legal research from your local library or the Legal Information Access Centre (see Part 10: Useful contacts). 2.7 -Setting up a Time to Pay plan with the SDRO If you are on a government benefit you can ask the SDRO to set up a Time to Pay plan from the date the penalty notice was issued. You can also have your Time to Pay instalments automatically deducted from your Centrelink payments (see 5.2). Any decision the SDRO makes about your Time to Pay application or plan can be reviewed by the Hardship Review Board (HRB). The HRB can direct the SDRO to: • -make, revoke (undo) or vary a Time to Pay plan; or • -write off all or part of an unpaid fine. For information on how to make an application to the HRB, see 5.7. 2.8 -Applying for a Work and Development Order (WDO) If you are on a government benefit you may be eligible to pay off your fine through a WDO. This is a scheme being trialled for two years by the NSW government. A WDO means you do some approved activity to pay off all or part of one or more fines. Generally, you can only apply for a WDO once there is an enforcement order against you (that is, because you did not pay the fine on time). However, you can ask for an enforcement order so that you can apply for a WDO. There are no enforcement costs if you do this (usually there is a $50.00 enforcement cost added to your fine). For more information on WDOs, see 5.3. in jail. (Jail is a last resort, and we don’t believe anyone has b 3. Overview When courts decide how much to charge for a fine, they have to take your financial situation into account. If you believe that you won’t be able to afford to pay a fine, give the court some information about your financial position, such as a report from a financial counsellor, or your bank statements and your pay slips or Centrelink documents. This will help the court understand what you can afford. 3.1 -Applying for an extension of Time to Pay or to pay by instalments A court fine has to be paid within 28 days of the court making the order. You can apply to the registrar of the court to extend the time or to pay by instalments. The registrar can require you to give them information to back up your application, especially documents about your financial situation, to help them make their decision. The registrar’s decision is final and cannot be appealed, but you can keep on making new applications until the unpaid fine is referred to the SDRO. If the registrar agrees that you can pay a fine by instalments and you don’t pay an instalment by the due date, the whole fine becomes payable immediately. For more information, see the NSW Local Court factsheet and application forms at: (http://www.lawlink.nsw.gov.au/lawlink/local_courts/ll_localcourts.nsf/pages/lc_money_issues). If the fine has been referred to the SDRO, you can apply to them to make part payments or to set up a Time to Pay plan (see 2.3, 2.7 and 5.2). 3.2 Contesting a court fine If you have been convicted and fined by a court, and you disagree with the decision, there are a number of things you can do. 3.2.1 Appealing to the District Court If you believe you are not guilty of the offence or the penalty is too harsh you can appeal the Local Court’s decision in the District Court. (The District Court is one level higher than the Local Court.) You have a right to lodge a Notice of Appeal up to 28 days after the sentence date. You can also lodge an appeal up to 3 months from the sentence date if you get leave (permission) from the court. To get leave, lodge your Notice of Appeal and include documents that explain why you couldn’t lodge it within the 28 days. There is a fee for lodging an appeal to the District Court, but it can be waived (which means you don’t have to pay it) in cases of financial hardship. 3.2.2 Applying to the court for annulment If you were convicted or sentenced in the Local Court less than two years ago and you weren’t there when it happened, you may be able to have the conviction or sentence annulled. This means the case will go to court again and you will have the chance to have your say. Before you apply for an annulment, think carefully about whether you are likely to end up better off if you get the annulment and the case goes to court again – you might lose the case, and end up with additional court costs. To have the conviction annulled you must prove to the court that: • -you were not aware of the original case until it was finished; or • -you were unable to attend court because of accident, illness, misadventure or other causes; or • it is in the interests of justice to do so. Note: Annulment does not mean you do not have to pay the fine. It just means that a court will hear the case again. You may still end up having to pay the fine. 3.2.3 Applying to the Minister for annulment If there is doubt about whether or not you are guilty or about the penalty, you can apply for an annulment to the Minister any time after the conviction or sentence date. If the Minister agrees that there is doubt, the matter will be referred back to the Local Court for review. We suggest that you get legal advice before you file an appeal or apply for an annulment (see Part 10: Useful contacts). 3.2.3 Referral to the SDRO If you have been given a fine in court and it has not been paid by the due date, and the registrar has not given you an extension of Time to Pay or agreed to let you pay by instalments, the fine will be referred to the SDRO for enforcement. The referral process can take up to 3 months. Once a fine has been referred to the SDRO they will send you a fine enforcement order, which gives you 28 days from the date of the order to pay the fine plus the enforcement fee (it is $50.00 at the moment). If you do not pay your fine within the 28 days, the SDRO will take further enforcement action against you. It is important to remember that every time there is enforcement action, costs are added to your fine. 4.1 What the SDRO can do When a fine has not been paid, the SDRO has to follow a step-by-step process set out in the Fines Act 1996 (NSW). This is the process: • -notice that enforcement action will be taken; • licence suspension and registration cancellation; • civil enforcement; • property seizure order; • garnishee order; • charge on land; • examination summons; • Community Service Order; • -imprisonment. Note: You can stop the process if you set up a Time to Pay plan or apply for a WDO, or apply for the SDRO to write off your unpaid fine/s. Also, you can apply to the HRB for a review of your fine/s (see Part 5: Responding to SDRO enforcement action). 4.2 -Licence suspension and registration cancellation If you have not paid the fine by the date in the SDRO enforcement order, the RTA will suspend your driver licence, cancel your vehicle registration, apply a business restriction (this means the RTA will not conduct any business with you, including applying for a licence, transferring registration if you sell a vehicle etc). If you don’t have a driver licence you will not be allowed to get one. If you do not pay the fine in the next 6 months your licence will be cancelled. A $40.00 enforcement cost will be added to your fine/s for any of these RTA actions. These actions can happen for any type of fine, not just vehicle-related ones. Driving while your licence is suspended or cancelled, or while your car is unregistered – no matter why your licence has been suspended/cancelled or your car has been deregistered – is an offence, and it can lead to more fines and the loss of your licence. The maximum penalty is 30 penalty units and/or 18 months’ jail for a first offence and 50 penalty units or 3 years’ jail (or both) for a second offence. 4.3 Civil action If you do not have a licence or a registered vehicle, or the fine is still not paid 6 months after the due date, the SDRO can take civil action against you. For each action an enforcement cost of $50.00 ($25.00 if you are under 18 or were under 18 at the time of the offence) is added to the fine. The SDRO can try to collect the unpaid fine or fines in the following ways. 4.3.1 Garnishee order The SDRO can issue a garnishee order to an individual or an organisation that holds money belonging to you – usually, this means your bank and your employer. A garnishee order means money from your bank account or your wages is paid directly to the SDRO to pay off your fine/s. The SDRO cannot directly garnishee Centrelink payments, but it can garnishee bank accounts containing Centrelink payments if those payments have been untouched for at least 4 weeks. 4.3.2 Property seizure order A property seizure order issued by the SDRO gives the NSW Sheriff the power to take your goods and auction them. The money from the auction then goes to pay your fine/s. The Sheriff will first visit your home and ask for the amount that is unpaid. If you do not pay, the Sheriff will make a list of items to be seized and give you a ‘Notice of Seizure’. The notice says you have 7 days to pay the fine/s. The items will not be taken away at this stage unless the Sheriff feels you are likely to take them away yourself. However, although the goods have not been removed, they have technically been seized. If you knowingly dispose of the goods that have been seized – take them away, or sell them, or let someone you know take them, say – you are committing an offence, and the penalties are harsh. After the 7 days the Sheriff can return at any time, take the goods listed in the notice and make arrangements to sell them. The Sheriff can enter your property by force, if necessary, to do this. The costs of all this will be added to your fine. The Sheriff is not required to return any property seized under a property seizure order, and any charge on land (see 4.3.4) doesn’t have to be cancelled, even if you later set up a Time to Pay plan with the SDRO. The Sheriff only has to return your property and release charges on land once the fine is paid. 4.3.3 Examination summons The SDRO can send you an examination summons, which is an order from the court for you to go to court (they tell you the date and time) to answer questions and give them information, including documents, about your financial circumstances. If you do not provide the information the court has asked you for, and you don’t have a good reason for that, you may be found to be in contempt of court – there are serious penalties for this. 4.3.4 Charge on land If your fine/s add up to more than $1,000.00 and you own any land, the fine/s can be registered as a charge on land. This means that if the land is ever sold, the amount of the fine/s that has not been paid will then be paid to the SDRO. 4.4 Community Service Orders (CSOs) If none of the things listed above has got you to pay the fine, the SDRO might give you a Community Service Order (CSO) – this means you have to perform community service to pay off the fine. The fine is paid off at $15.00 per hour through a CSO. You cannot be ordered to do more than 300 hours if you are an adult (100 for a child) in one CSO, which means you cannot pay off more than $4,500.00 in fines in one CSO. If your unpaid fines add up to more than $4,500.00 the SDRO can apply for another CSO. The SDRO will only give you a CSO if they believe you are capable of doing the work required. If you do not do your CSO work the whole amount of the fine becomes payable and a warrant may be issued for your arrest. We are not aware of any cases where this has happened. Usually you cannot choose to do community service instead of paying the fine, or as an alternative to court action. However, if it is clear that court action is not going to get the fine paid and you do not have any way to pay the fine, you can write to the SDRO, tell them this and say that you are prepared to do community service. The SDRO may then give you a CSO. Note: You can offer to pay off the fine to the SDRO anytime during the CSO. 4.5 Imprisonment If you do not do your CSO work you can be sent to jail. Nobody has gone to jail in NSW for unpaid fines since the Fines Act 1996 (NSW) was introduced, but it remains, at least theoretically, an option. A police officer is allowed to execute a warrant for the arrest of a fine defaulter. However, the police can also delay doing this so that the defaulter can pay the fine or ask for the warrant to be cancelled. If you pay the full amount of the fine and enforcement fees you owe, the warrant will not be executed. If someone is put in jail for not doing their CSO work, the fine would be paid off at a rate of $120.00 for every 1 day in jail. The time in jail has to be not less than 1 day and not more than 3 months. The person can apply to serve this time by periodic detention – such as every weekend. If you are in jail for other offences, not your fines, you cannot pay off your fines by serving extra time. If you are in jail for other reasons and you have unpaid fines, you should contact Probation and Parole at the Community Offender Services section of Corrective Services NSW (see Part 10: Useful contacts). The SDRO will stop any enforcement action while a person is in jail and for 3 months after they are released. Note: If you are likely to be put in jail, get legal advice immediately (see Part 10: Useful contacts). 5. Overview If you have been sent a fine enforcement order and you want to avoid further SDRO enforcement actions, you can do one of these things: • PAY THE FINE; • apply to the SDRO for a Time to Pay plan; • apply to the SDRO for a WDO; • apply for a stay of the enforcement order; • apply to the SDRO for annulment of the fine; • apply to the SDRO for a write off; • apply to the HRB; • apply for remission of the fine; or • consider bankruptcy. 5.1 Paying the fine Once you pay the fine, there are no more enforcement costs and no more enforcement actions. 5.2 Setting up a Time to Pay plan The plan may be to make one lump sum payment and pay the rest by instalments, or to pay it all by instalments. If the SDRO accepts your Time to Pay plan, you will be granted an extension of time – enough to pay off your fines according to the plan. Note: If you are on a government benefit, you can apply for a Time to Pay arrangement as soon as you get a penalty notice. 5.2.1 The Time to Pay application process To get the forms to apply for a Time to Pay plan (the Application for Time to Pay form and the Statement of Financial Circumstances form) you can go to the SDRO office, or you can phone the SDRO and they will send you the forms (see Part 10: Useful contacts), or you can download them from the SDRO website (http://www.sdro.nsw.gov.au). Fill them in and send them to the SDRO, with: • -your most recent income statement from Centrelink (if you’re getting a Centrelink benefit); • your most recent bank statement; and • your most recent pay slip. You should do all this before the due date on the fine enforcement order (this means you will avoid further enforcement action), but you can put in a Time to Pay application at any time, except once a CSO is issued. The form asks very specific and detailed questions about your financial situation. You have to fill it in accurately, and you have to give as much information as you can (see Part 12: Applying to set up a Time to Pay plan). It is important that your application is realistic – it’s better for you and for the SDRO if you set up a plan you can manage rather than one that is so hard you are likely to default on it. The SDRO will let you know whether or not it has approved your Time to Pay application. If your first application is not successful, you can send in another one, but it should include new material that you think will make it successful. 5.2.2 -When a Time to Pay application has been approved If your application is approved, the SDRO will send you a Time to Pay order which tells you: • how much you have to pay; • the dates when you have to make payments; and • what enforcement orders are included in the Time to Pay order. Also, if your Time to Pay application is accepted, you may be able to have your driver licence and car registration reinstated (see 5.10). For general information on methods of payment see the SDRO website (http://www.sdro.nsw.gov.au/payments.html#pay_pn). 5.2.3 -Making Time to Pay payments using Centrepay If you are on a Centrelink benefit, you can have your Time to Pay instalments automatically deducted from your fortnightly Centrelink payments through the Centrepay program. Also, you do not need to wait until the fines have got as far as enforcement orders to set up a Time to Pay plan using Centrepay (see 2.7 and 3.1) – you can do it as soon as you get a penalty notice. To set up deductions through Centrepay, contact the SDRO or fill in and send them the Making Time to Pay Payments Using Centrepay Deductions form, available on the SDRO website (http://www.sdro.nsw.gov.au/lib/docs/forms/sfs_cp.pdf). You can also set up your Centrepay payments through the Clerk of the Local Court (only for court fines when no enforcement orders have been made). 5.2.4 -If you default on your Time to Pay plan or get another enforcement order If you miss an instalment payment, the rest of the fine/s becomes payable immediately and enforcement action can be taken. However, if you make the payment within one week of the date the payment is due, you will not be defaulted. So, if you: • default on a Time to Pay payment; • are going to default on a payment; or • have been sent another fine enforcement order; let the SDRO know immediately and, if necessary, apply to set up a new Time to Pay plan, one that fits better with your circumstances. Any SDRO decision about your Time to Pay plan can be reviewed by the HRB (Hardship Review Board). The HRB can direct the SDRO to: • make, revoke (undo) or vary a WDO or Time to Pay plan; or • write off all or part of an unpaid fine. For more information on making an application to the HRB, see 5.7. HOW MUCH CAN I AFFORD TO PAY? If you are going to set up a Time to Pay plan or an Instalment Agreement with the SDRO you need to work out how much you can afford for each repayment. One way to do this is to work with an expert – a financial counsellor. A financial counsellor can: • work out exactly what your financial situation is; • help you understand and fill in the application forms; • advise you about ways you can manage your money; • work out a budget; and • help negotiate with people you owe money to. To find out details of free and accredited financial counsellors in NSW, contact the Financial Counsellors’ Association of NSW: (http://www.financialcounsellors.asn.au/). 5.3 -Applying for a Work and Development Order (WDO) Recent changes to the Fines Act 1996 (NSW) set up a two-year pilot program that lets people use a WDO as a way of paying off a whole fine or part of a fine. The pilot began on 10 July 2009. A WDO requires you to do one or more of these things: • -do unpaid work for an approved organisation (with the agreement of the organisation); • -undergo medical or mental health treatment in accordance with a health practitioner’s treatment plan; • -undertake an educational, vocational or life skills course (including financial and anger management counselling); • -undergo drug or alcohol treatment; or • -undertake a mentoring program by an approved organisation (only available to people under 25). You can apply for a WDO at any time after you get an enforcement order, unless a Community Service Order (CSO) has been made (they are rare). For more information on CSOs, see 4.4. Someone can apply for a WDO on your behalf if you have unpaid fines and you: • have an intellectual disability; • a mental illness; • a cognitive impairment; • are homeless; or • are experiencing great economic hardship. The meanings of these words are in the Work and Development Order Guidelines, which are on the SDRO website (http://www.sdro.nsw.gov.au). 5.3.1 Making the application These applications should be made by you and supported by an approved organisation/s or person/s, or by the person making the application on your behalf, plus the approved organisation/s or person/s. See 5.3.4 for information on how to become an approved organisation. An approved person is a person or body approved by the Director General of the Department of Justice and Attorney General, or: • a medical practitioner (doctor); • psychologist; or • a registered nurse. To apply for a WDO, download the Work and Development Order Application form from the SDRO website (http://www.sdro.nsw.gov.au/ publications.html#wdo). Fill in the form and send it in with: • proof of your identity (such as your driver licence number); • -evidence that you have authorised this person to make the WDO application (if it is being made for you); • -a declaration that a Working with Children check has been done (where relevant) (employers that work with children know how to do these); • -supporting documents from the approved organisation or health practitioner, including: • their name; • their contact details; • -a declaration saying that they agree to be responsible for overseeing your activities (and that they fulfil the SDRO requirements, if they are health practitioners); and • -evidence that your particular hardship makes you eligible for a WDO; • any other documents you think might help your application; and • a Statement of Financial Circumstances. The application form must also include: • -the reasons why you are making the application (or why someone is making it on your behalf) – such as homelessness, economic hardship, cognitive impairment; • -the activities that will be carried out; • -a time frame for those activities; and • -the dollar amount of the fine/s that the WDO will pay off. Your proposal should be as true and realistic as you can make it about your situation and what you can do. You can list a combination of activities. You can apply to set up a Time to Pay plan or for a partial write off at the same time as you apply for a WDO. If the court has ordered you to do specific things – if it has given you a CSO (Community Service Order) or put you on a MERIT (Magistrates Early Referral Into Treatment) plan, for example – you cannot include them as part of your WDO. If your WDO proposal will not cover the full amount you owe to the SDRO, your application should say what you plan to do about the rest. You could for example set up a Time to Pay arrangement (see 5.2) or apply to have the remaining debt written off (see 5.6). You do not need to prove that your disability, impairment, illness or other hardship contributed to getting the fine in the first place, but you will need to have a statement from each approved person who will supervise your WDO activities saying that: • -your particular hardship contributed or is contributing to your inability to pay the fine; or • -as a result of your condition, it is more appropriate for you to do the work or activities proposed instead of paying the fine. The SDRO has produced some useful guides on Work and Development Orders. You can find them at: (http://www.sdro.nsw.gov.au/publications.html#wdo). For more information about applying for a WDO, see WDO Guidelines: (http://www.sdro.nsw.gov.au/lib/docs/forms/sdr037.pdf). and the Department of Justice and Attorney General’s WDO Guidelines (http://www.sdro.nsw.gov.au/lib/docs/misc/wdo_guidelines.pdf). Before the SDRO can give you a WDO, every person or organisation involved in it must agree to everything in it. Once you have a WDO, the SDRO will lift all RTA restrictions (that is, you will get your licence and your car registration back if one or both of them have been suspended). If your licence has been cancelled, you will have to reapply. 5.3.2 Paying off the fine by a WDO Fines are paid off at these rates: ACTIVITY RATE Unpaid work for an approved organisation $30.00 per hour -You can do a minimum of 10 hours and a maximum of 35 hours of work per month. Agreed courses or treatment programs $350.00 - $1,000.00 ....................................................................... -The amount will be determined on a case by case basis by the SDRO. The maximum amount of work or activities you can do under a WDO is 300 hours for an adult (100 for a child). If you have finished your WDO and still have fines unpaid, you can apply to set up a Time to Pay plan for the rest or apply to have the rest of the fine/s written off. If you do unpaid work as part of your WDO, you, the persons directing you to do the work, and anyone who owns/occupies the property or benefits from your work, cannot be sued in relation to that work. While you are doing your WDO activities, there will not be any more enforcement action in relation to your fine/s. 5.3.3 Varying or revoking a WDO You can apply to have your WDO varied or revoked if you wish to. The SDRO can vary or revoke your WDO too, if you don’t do everything that is listed in it. The SDRO must take reasonable steps to consult with you before doing either of these things: they will write to you and to each approved person supporting your WDO, setting out the reasons for the proposed variation and giving you at least two weeks to argue against their plan. If the SDRO does revoke your WDO and all or part of your fine is still unpaid, enforcement action will start again and you will have enforcement costs added to your fine again. The SDRO can also vary or revoke your WDO if: • -the information you provided in your application was false or misleading (this has to be about an important thing, not something like writing in your phone number wrong); or • -your financial circumstances have improved so much that you are no longer eligible for a WDO. If you disagree with any decision the SDRO makes about your WDO you can apply to the Hardship Review Board (HRB) to review it. The HRB can direct the SDRO to make, revoke or vary a WDO, or to write off all or part of an unpaid fine (see 5.7). 5.3.4 -Becoming an approved organisation so you can support a WDO To do this, an organisation must download and fill in an approved organisation application form from the SDRO website (http://www.sdro.nsw.gov.au/publications.html#wdo), and submit it to the Director of the SDRO. Approved organisations have to: • have established OH&S policies and procedures; • agree to be subject to independent auditing; • oversee a person’s participation under a WDO; • provide reports on all active WDOs; • report any non-compliance with WDOs to the SDRO; • notify the person undertaking the WDO if the WDO has been revoked; • comply with the minimum recording requirements; and • have a complaints handling procedure. If your organisation is approved by the SDRO, it will remain an approved organisation for the rest of the pilot program. Organisations will only get approval for areas in which they have demonstrated knowledge and experience. 5.4 -Applying for a stay of an enforcement order A stay is a temporary order to stop the SDRO from continuing with its enforcement or collection procedures. You can ask for a stay when you are trying to get information and documents together for another application (such as a Time to Pay application), or if you will soon have the money to pay the fine and the enforcement costs. You need to apply for a stay in writing. You need to write down the reasons why you are applying for the stay and include any supporting documents. The SDRO can stay an enforcement order for up to 12 months. If you are in jail and you let the SDRO know that you are in jail – by filling in an Inmate Request for Information Form (IRI) – you will have any enforcement proceedings stayed until 3 months after you are released. You can get IRI forms from Department of Corrective Services staff. There is a sample letter for a stay application in Part 12: Sample letters and documents. 5.5 Applying for an annulment If you could not deal with your penalty notice, for one of the reasons listed on the following pages, you (or someone acting for you) can apply to the SDRO for an annulment. If you get an annulment, your fines will be sent to the Local Court to be dealt with – it’s exactly as if you had decided to go to court when you first got the fines. There is no time limit for making an annulment application, and quite often people who apply for an annulment have fines that have piled up over many years. 5.5.1 Why apply for an annulment? People mostly apply for an annulment when their debt is large and they don’t have any way to pay it (including through Time to Pay plans or WDOs or CSOs). There are several advantages to applying for an annulment. First, the court ‘must take into consideration the person’s capacity to pay’. If you want an annulment because of your financial situation and you have to go to court, make sure you bring evidence about your financial situation. Local Courts often reduce fines a lot because of what they know about a person’s capacity to pay. Second, the court has different options when the person with the fines has a developmental disability or an intellectual disability, or is suffering from a mental illness or condition. The court can just dismiss the charges, or dismiss them on condition that the person gets a particular treatment. There are also alternatives to criminal penalties for young people (see Part 7: Young people and fines). Before the SDRO considers an annulment application it will ask the organisation that issued the fine to review it. There have been some recent changes to the Fines Act which have introduced additional reasons to review a fine (see 2.4 and 2.5). If your application for annulment is granted and your fines do go back to court, you have all the usual options that are available in the Local Court, such as pleading guilty or not guilty, or making an application under the Mental Health (Criminal Procedure) Act, for example. 5.5.2 How to apply for an annulmentAll applications for annulment have to be in writing and sent to the SDRO. You have to make a separate application for each penalty notice or enforcement order that you want to get annulled (that is, that you want to take to court). There is a $50.00 application fee for each penalty notice or enforcement order, but one enforcement order can cover several penalty notices: if you are trying to get annulments for a group of penalty notices that are spread across three enforcement orders, for example, the fee will be $150.00. The SDRO can in appropriate circumstances, such as financial hardship, waive the application fee (which means you don’t have to pay it) or postpone the application fee (which means you don’t have to pay it up front, but it gets added to the fine). As with anything involving financial hardship, you will need to provide documents that show what your financial situation is. Your application for annulment must show that: • -you didn’t know you had been given the penalty notice until the enforcement order was made; or • -the penalty reminder notice, or the penalty notice and the penalty reminder notice, were returned to the sender after being sent to you (because you were not at the address they were sent to) and the enforcement order was sent to you at a different address (where you actually were, so you did get it); or • -you could not do anything about the penalty notice because of accident, illness, misadventure or other causes (such as homelessness); or • -you can show that there is doubt about whether or not you should have to pay the penalty or any other amount; or • -under the circumstances, there is another good reason for granting your application. The SDRO will deal with your application for annulment without you having to attend, unless the SDRO decides it wants you to be there. Either way the SDRO has to send you a letter telling you what the result of your application was. If no decision is made by 42 days after the day when your case was sent for review, the SDRO has to grant your annulment application. Because one enforcement order can be about several penalty notices, you can apply to annul some or all of the penalty notices the enforcement order applies to, and to annul the enforcement order for some or all of the penalty notices. If your enforcement order is annulled completely, any enforcement action that has already been taken has to be reversed and you will be repaid any enforcement costs or other amounts you already paid because of the order. If the order is only partly annulled, it continues to operate for the penalty notice/s that were not annulled. If your annulment application is not successful you have the right to appeal to the Local Court. You have 28 days from the date of the SDRO’s decision to send in your application to the Local Court and again there is a $50.00 application fee for each enforcement order you are appealing. The Registrar of the Local Court may waive this fee. If your application for annulment is successful, you take your case to court and you get the opportunity to argue it. You cannot annul a fine enforcement order given by a court. For information on appealing a court fine, see Part 3: Court fines. SDRO FORMS The SDRO publishes several forms: • Request review of penalty notice • Court election form • Statutory declaration • Statement of Financial Circumstances • Time to Pay application form • Centrepay deduction authorisation • Work and Development Order application form. The SDRO also publishes the following fact sheets: • SDRO Review Guidelines • -‘Having your enforced fine decided in court’ (+ application form for annulment) • ‘Were you under 18 at the time of the offence?’ • -‘How to have my enforced fine postponed or written off’ (+ information on how to apply). You can get SDRO forms and fact sheets online (http://www.sdro.nsw.gov.au).5.6 Applying to have a fine written off The SDRO has the power to write off all or part of your unpaid fine/s in a few circumstances, but it can’t do this if you have been given a Community Service Order (CSO). The SDRO can decide by itself to write off all or part of an unpaid fine, or it can do it in response to your application. There is a two-stage process: postponement and cancellation. To have a fine enforcement order postponed, you have to apply in writing to the Director of the SDRO. Your application has to persuade the SDRO that because of serious financial, medical or personal circumstances, you: • are unable to pay the fine/s now or in the future; • do not own any goods that can be seized; • do not have income that the SDRO can put a garnishee order on; • do not own any property the SDRO can impose a charge on; and • -are not able to do community service (through a CSO), or a WDO is inappropriate. You will need to include supporting documents, such as medical reports, financial documents, letters from social workers or welfare agencies, copies of court orders etc (see Part 12: Sample letters and documents). If your application is successful the fine enforcement order will be postponed for a set period, usually 5 years. During that 5 years no enforcement action will be taken against you for the fines you have not paid and your licence and registration will not be affected. At the end of that time the fine enforcement order will be cancelled if your circumstances have not changed and you have no new fine enforcement order/s (for new fines). Cancellation (also known as write off or waiver) means you never have to pay the fine. If, in that 5 years, your circumstances improve, or if you have a new fine enforcement order (for a new fine), the SDRO can reinstate any part of any unpaid fine and start to take enforcement action on any unpaid fines again. Any SDRO decision about writing off a fine can be reviewed by the HRB. The HRB can direct the SDRO to write off all or part of an unpaid fine. For more information on making an application to the HRB, see 5.7. HOW TO HAVE A FINE WRITTEN OFF 1. -Apply in writing to the SDRO, including an Affidavit of Financial Circumstances and supporting evidence. 2. -If your application is approved, payment of your fine/s is postponed for 5 years. 3. -If after 5 years there has been no change in your circumstances or new enforcement orders, your fine will be cancelled (written off). 4. Occasionally, a fine can be waived (written off) immediately. 5.7 -Applying to the Hardship Review Board (HRB) You (or someone acting for you) can apply to the HRB for a review of an SDRO decision about: • a Time to Pay application or plan; • a WDO application or order; and • writing off of all or part of an unpaid fine. You may not make more than one application for any one fine. The SDRO may suspend enforcement action while your application to the HRB is being dealt with, but they don’t have to. The HRB can do its review without you being there. It will look at your circumstances, including your ability to pay now and in the future, what civil enforcement action could be taken against you and your suitability for a WDO or CSO. The HRB can then direct the SDRO to: • make, revoke or vary an order about a Time to Pay application; • make, revoke or vary an order about a WDO; or • write off all or part of an unpaid fine. Note: The HRB cannot direct SDRO to lift RTA restrictions. For information about getting RTA restrictions lifted, see 5.10. 5.8 Remission of fines The State Governor, on the recommendation of the Attorney General, can remit fines. This means that the fine is treated as if it has been paid. You might apply for remission if your application for write off has been rejected, or if the reason you are asking for remission is different from the reasons you are allowed to use for a write off. You have to apply for remission in writing to the Community Relations Division, Department of Justice and Attorney General, and you have to give details of why you are asking for it, plus supporting documents. Usually people ask for remission on compassionate grounds. Once your application is in, any enforcement action stops and any restrictions (such as RTA restrictions) are lifted until a decision is made. The process can take over 2 months. Note: If your fine is remitted it means you don’t have to pay the fine, but the record of the offence, and any demerit points you lost, do not change. 5.9 Bankruptcy Bankruptcy is a big step, and it means serious restrictions on your life. These restrictions continue until you are ‘discharged’ from bankruptcy, which usually happens automatically after 3 years. When a person is discharged from bankruptcy, they are released from most of their debts, but not all. The Insolvency and Trustee Service Australia (ITSA) is the agency that deals with bankruptcies. It will appoint a trustee to your case. To pay your creditors (the people you owe money to), this trustee will: • -sell most of your assets (the things you own) – you will be able to keep some types of assets, such as ordinary household or personal items, tools used to earn an income (to a value of $3,350.00 at the moment), a vehicle (to a value of $6,700.00 at the moment), money in your superannuation fund, life insurance, compensation for personal injury awards. • -set the amounts that you have to pay to your creditors out of your income once you earn over a certain amount (this is only during the period of your bankruptcy); and • -investigate your financial affairs and get back money (if you have given it to someone) or property (if you have transferred it to someone for less than it is worth). Court fines are treated differently from penalty notices in bankruptcy law. The ITSA believes that you do not have to pay your penalty notice fines when you are discharged from bankruptcy. However, you do have to pay court fines when you are discharged from bankruptcy. The SDRO will stop enforcement action for court fines for the time you are bankrupt, but any RTA restrictions (such as licence suspension or cancellation of registration) you already have will stay in force even after you are discharged from bankruptcy. They will continue until the fine is paid in full or you have set up a Time to Pay plan. You should get financial advice if you are thinking about becoming bankrupt (Part 10: Useful contacts). 5.10 Having RTA restrictions removed The SDRO can remove RTA licence suspensions and cancellations of registration. They might do this if: • you have paid all your fines; or • you have a WDO; or • you have a Time to Pay plan, and: • -you have shown that you can stick to your Time to Pay plan: generally, 2-3 months of making regular payments (about 6 payments) is enough for this; or • -you have appealed to the Local Court against the SDRO’s rejection of your annulment application, or lodged an appeal or annulment application with the court; or • -you have been able to prove a connection between having your licence and being able to make your payments (if your job requires you to have a licence, say - just having to travel to and from work is not enough); or • -you have medical or domestic reasons: for example, you need your licence because you have to drive someone to and from their doctor; or • -you are a young person and you need a licence to help you get a job: you’ll need a letter from an employment agency saying that you need your licence so that you can do work for the dole or other similar schemes; or • -you need to sell your car to pay your fines; or • -you live in a remote location. This does not necessarily mean the country: for example, some parts of Western Sydney could be counted as remote because they have poor public transport; or • -you are a member of an Aboriginal community and have never had a driver licence, and/or you have enrolled in a driving school to improve your driving skills. If this is the case for you, the SDRO might lift RTA sanctions even if you haven’t set up a Time to Pay plan. Note: If you have set up a Time to Pay plan (as part of your deal with the SDRO to lift your licence suspension) and you don’t pay an instalment, your licence will be suspended again. GETTING YOUR LICENCE BACK OPTION 1: You have to: • -set up a Time to Pay plan (get a financial counsellor to help you work out what you can afford to pay); and • -show that you should get your licence back because of: • medical reasons; and/or • employment reasons; and/or • another acceptable reason. Make sure you get evidence about your reasons: a letter from a doctor, or a letter from your current or future employer. Fax or mail these to the SDRO with your application. OPTION 2: Set up a Time to Pay plan and stick to it for 6 payments in a row. Then ask the SDRO to let you have your licence back. (If you set up a Time to Pay plan using Centrepay, the SDRO will sometimes give you your licence back straight away.) OPTION 3: Apply to the SDRO for a WDO. First, decide what kind of work, activity, treatment or program you want to do to pay off your fines. Then get an application form from the SDRO website (http://www.sdro.nsw.gov.au). Once you have a WDO the SDRO will lift your RTA restrictions. If you have applied to the SDRO to get your licence back and you have not heard from them in 5 or 6 working days (Monday to Friday are working days), you can call them and ask them to lift the restrictions on your licence until they make a decision on your application. Keep a copy of everything you send to the SDRO. If they reject your application, ask them for a statement of their reasons and get some legal advice. Don’t start driving again until you are sure the restrictions have been lifted – check with the RTA and the SDRO. 6. Overview The SDRO can collect and enforce Commonwealth fines, and court fines from other states of Australia, on companies that carry on business in NSW, but not on individuals. 6.1 Commonwealth fines A Commonwealth fine is a fine for an offence under Commonwealth laws – these cover things like taxation, social security/Centrelink or customs. Commonwealth fines can only be enforced by the SDRO if a NSW court has given the fine. For Commonwealth fines, the SDRO can use RTA restrictions (licence suspension and registration cancellation) and Time to Pay plans. They cannot use civil enforcement action (garnishee orders, property seizure, examination summons and charges on land: see 4.3) or CSOs (Community Service Orders) unless a Local Court has said they can for that particular case. If you have a Commonwealth fine that you want to pay off through a WDO, you might have to get permission to do this from a Local Court. You can appeal or try to annul Commonwealth fines that are given through a NSW court the same way you can for other court fines (see Part 3: Court fines). 7. Overview Fines are a big problem for children and young people because they are likely to have difficulty paying them and they can cause a lot of problems later on. Research by the Shopfront Youth Legal Service, based on statistics from the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, shows that there are more young people than older people who are charged with public transport offences, bicycle offences and disobeying police directions, which are offences that usually result in fines. The Shopfront Youth Legal Service has published detailed guides about young people and fines in their Fines Kit (http://www.theshopfront.org/documents/Fines_kit_-_table_of_contents.pdf). 7.1 Can children be fined? Penalty notices cannot be given to children under 10. Children under 10 can’t be charged with a criminal offence either. Anyone over 10 who is charged with an offence can be fined. However, children under 14 are presumed to be incapable of committing criminal offences. Generally, penalty notices are not given to children under 14. If you are a young person and you have been given a fine and you want to fight it, or you can’t afford to pay it, get legal advice straight away (see Part 10: Useful contacts). 7.2 Alternatives to fines for young people The Young Offenders Act 1997 (NSW) sets out the ways of keeping children and young people (up to 18) out of the courts for certain offences. For many offences, the person can get a warning, or a formal caution or be referred to a youth justice conference instead of getting a fine. 7.3 Sentencing principles As well as the options above, the court has to take some other factors into consideration when it sentences children and young people: • -a person between the ages of 10 and 18 who appears in the Children’s Court can’t be fined more than 10 penalty units ($1,100.00) for one offence; • -when it gives a fine, a court must take into consideration whether or not a person will be able to pay a fine – children and young people have very limited finances; • -generally, rehabilitation (giving people skills and knowledge that means they have a better chance of not offending again) is more important than deterrence (making them so afraid of what happens that they do not want to offend again) for young people. Fines are intended to be punishment, and so may not be appropriate for children or young people; and • -a young person might not be fully aware of the consequences of their actions. 7.4 Enforcement The SDRO can use only some enforcement actions if you were given fines when you were under the age of 18. First, it cannot suspend your driver licence or cancel your vehicle registration if you were under 18 and had never had a licence when the fine was given. If you were under 18 when the offence was committed and under 21 when you were charged with the offence, you cannot be put in jail for unpaid fines. However, if you are over 18 and are fined, any fines you were given earlier, including any given when you were under 18, can be included in an SDRO enforcement order for imprisonment. ] Note: This section does not apply to commercial and heavy vehicle licences. 8. Overview If you get a fine for a traffic offence, you can also get demerit points. You don’t get a fine instead of demerit points, and you don’t get demerit points instead of a fine. Different traffic offences get different demerit points. The number of points you get before your licence is suspended is different for different types of licence: • full unrestricted licence – 12 demerit points over 3 years; • provisional P2 licence – 7 demerit points; and • provisional P1 licence – 4 demerit points. Once you have reached (or gone over) the number of points allowed for your licence, it will be suspended by the RTA. You can look at and download the complete list of offences, and their demerit points and fines, on the RTA website: (http://www.rta.nsw.gov.au/rulesregulations/downloads/demeritlist_dl1.html). 8.1 Licence suspension If you have so many demerit points that your licence will be suspended, you will get a notice of suspension from the RTA. The length of the suspension depends on the number of demerit points you have and the type of licence you have. If you have an unrestricted licence, the suspension period will be somewhere between 3 months and 5 months. If you have a provisional licence, the suspension period is automatically 3 months. You can also have your licence suspended, or be disqualified from driving, for serious speeding offences such as: • -driving more than 45 km/h above the speed limit – automatic suspension of 6 months; and • -driving more than 30 km/h but less than 45 km/h above the speed limit – automatic suspension of 3 months. These offences give you demerit points as well, so if these points mean you get to your points limit (or you get over the points limit), you may get an additional suspension period. You can start driving as soon as your suspension period is over. All your demerits points are cleared, and you start again. If you have a provisional licence and you get demerit points that do not result in a licence suspension, those points will be counted on your unrestricted licence when you get it. If your licence expires (runs out) during the suspension period, you have to renew it before you can drive again. This is important, because the RTA will not send you a renewal notice while your licence is suspended – you have to know when your licence is due for renewal and get it renewed. Offences and demerit points stay on your driving record no matter how long ago they happened. You can check your offences and points in the last 40 months on the RTA website (http://www.rta.nsw.gov.au/myrta/myrecords/index.html). Note: This licence suspension procedure is as well as RTA restrictions that are given via the SDRO for not paying a fine - they are two separate things. For more information about driving while your licence has been suspended or you have been disqualified because of unpaid fines, see 4.2. 8.2 Good behaviour period If you have an unrestricted licence and you get a Notice of Suspension because of demerit points, you can apply to have a 12 month good behaviour period instead of the suspension. You can’t do this if you have a provisional licence or you are already serving a good behaviour period. You have to apply for a good behaviour period in person at a RTA motor registry, and you have to do it before the date that the suspension is due to start (this date should be on the Notice of Suspension). If you get 2 or more demerit points while you are serving a good behaviour period, your licence will be suspended for double the original suspension time. 8.3 Appeal You can’t appeal against a suspension if it is because of demerit points, and you can’t appeal against the RTA refusing to give you an unrestricted licence if it is because of demerit points. 8.4 Licence disqualification A court can disqualify you from driving – courts disqualify you, the RTA suspends your licence. The important difference is that if a court disqualifies you from driving, your demerit points are not cleared from your record at the end of the disqualification period. If you are convicted in court for a traffic offence you will usually get demerit points (the court can also find you guilty but dismiss the matter). Therefore, if you get disqualified as well, and at the end of the disqualification period you have all (or more than all) the number of demerit points for your licence, your licence will be suspended by the RTA – in effect, you will lose your licence twice. Note: Driving while you are suspended or disqualified has severe penalties, including jail. 9. Overview Fine enforcement is mostly done by the SDRO and the Local Court. There are standards of treatment – and rights – you are entitled to when they deal with you. Some basic rights are: • the right to be treated fairly and politely; • the right to see a copy of your file; • the right to be given the reasons for a decision; and • the right to your privacy. The laws of NSW say that if these things are not happening, you can complain. 9.1 The NSW Ombudsman The Ombudsman’s Office is an independent body that deals with complaints against NSW government departments and agencies. If you feel the SDRO or the RTA is treating you unfairly or without respect, the best thing to do is complain to them directly first. If your complaint is not resolved that way, then lodge it with the Ombudsman. There is no fee, and no special form to fill in – just write to the Ombudsman and attach a copy of all the relevant information and documents. The Ombudsman will investigate if you say: • the organisation’s policies and procedures were not followed; • reminder notices were not sent or were sent to the wrong address; • -a decision about a waiver, a Time to Pay application or the lifting of a restriction was unjust or unreasonable; and • there was an unsatisfactory standard of customer service. Note: The Ombudsman cannot review or investigate court decisions. If you have a complaint about a court decision, write to the Chief Magistrate of the Local Courts or the Community Relations Division of the Department of Justice and Attorney General. 9.2 The NSW Privacy Commissioner The Privacy Commissioner’s job is to promote and protect privacy. Their office can investigate complaints about government departments and agencies, including the SDRO and the RTA. If you make a complaint to the Privacy Commissioner it has to be in writing and you have to do it within 6 months of the breach of privacy (sometimes the Privacy Commissioner can accept complaints that come in after 6 months). There is no fee and no special form to fill in. Note: There are situations where government departments and agencies are allowed to release the personal information they have about you. 9.3 Freedom Of Information (FOI) The NSW Freedom of Information Act 1989 gives you a general right to see the personal and other information (such as some departmental policy and procedure documents) that NSW government departments and agencies - such the SDRO and the RTA - have about you. You also have the right to change any of that information if it is incorrect. TO SEE THIS INFORMATION, YOU HAVE TO FILL IN THE APPLICATION FORM (OR LETTER) AND SEND IT, PLUS THE APPLICATION FEE, TO THE GOVERNMENT OR AGENCY YOU WANT THE INFORMATION FROM. IF THE DEPARTMENT OR AGENCY REFUSES YOUR FOI REQUEST (SOME OF IT OR ALL OF IT) YOU HAVE A RIGHT TO AN INTERNAL REVIEW. IF YOU ARE STILL NOT SATISFIED, YOU CAN THEN HAVE AN EXTERNAL REVIEW, WHICH WILL BE DONE BY THE NSW OMBUDSMAN, THE SUPREME COURT OR THE ADMINISTRATIVE DECISIONS TRIBUNAL. IT IS BEST TO GET LEGAL ADVICE BEFORE YOU GO AHEAD WITH AN EXTERNAL FOI REVIEW. GOVERNMENT AND AUTHORITIES Institution Location Telephone Website Legal Aid NSW Central Sydney 9219 5000 www.legalaid.nsw.gov.au Office Bankstown 9707 4555 Blacktown 9621 4800 Burwood 9747 6155 Campbelltown 4628 2922 Coffs Harbour 6651 7899 Dubbo 6885 4233 Fairfield 9727 3777 Gosford 4324 5611 Lismore 6621 2082 Liverpool 9601 1200 Manly 9977 1479 Newcastle 4929 5482 Nowra 4422 4351 Orange 6362 8022 Parramatta 9891 1600 Penrith 4732 3077 Sutherland 9521 3733 Tamworth 6766 6322 Wagga Wagga 6921 6588 Wollongong 4228 8299 LawAccess NSW 1300 888 529 www.lawaccess.nsw.gov.au State Debt Penalty Notices 1300 138 118 www.sdro.nsw.gov.au Recovery Office (SDRO) -Note: Community workers, financial counsellors and lawyers can use a special ‘hotline number’ to speak with more senior SDRO officers. To get this number, contact the SDRO. GOVERNMENT AND AUTHORITIES Institution Location Telephone Website Roads and General Enquiries 13 22 13 www.rta.nsw.gov.au Traffic Authority (RTA) Hardship Sydney South 6354 7116 www.hrb.osr.nsw.gov.au Review Board (HRB) NSW Office of Sydney 9287 7263 www.lawlink.nsw.gov.au/ots the Sheriff NSW Sydney 9286 1000 www.ombo.nsw.gov.au Ombudsman Office of the Parramatta 8688 8585 www.lawlink.nsw.gov.au/ NSW Privacy Department of Sydney 8688 7777 firstname.lastname@example.org Justice and Office of Sydney 9242 4200 the Governor of NSW Insolvency and Sydney Office 8233 7800 www.itsa.gov.au Trustee Service General Enquiries Legal State Library 9273 1558 http://liac.sl.nsw.gov.au Information of NSW Access Centre Community Head Office 9836 1333 www.dcs.nsw.gov.au/where_ Offender (Sydney) NSW COMMUNITY LEGAL CENTRES Institution Location Telephone Website CLCs NSW Ultimo 9212 7333 www.nswclc.org.au Albury Albury Wodonga 6056 8210 www.communitylaw.org.au/ Wodonga Central Coast Wyong 4353 4988 www.centralcoastlegal Community Elizabeth Evatt Katoomba 4782 4155 www.eeclc.org.au Community Legal Centre Far West Broken Hill 08 8088 2020 www.farwestclc.org.au Community Hawkesbury Richmond 4587 8877 www.hnclc.net.au Nepean Community Legal Centre Hunter Newcastle 4926 3220 www.hunterclc.org.au Community Illawarra Warrawong 4276 1939 www.illawarralegal Legal Centre Inner City Darlinghurst 9332 1966 www.iclc.org.au Legal Centre Kingsford University 9385 9566 www.law.unsw.edu.au/ Legal Centre of NSW Macarthur Campbelltown 4628 2042 www.macarthurlegal.org.au Legal Centre NSW COMMUNITY LEGAL CENTRES Institution Location Telephone Website Macquarie Parramatta 9760 0111 www.macquarielegal.org.au Legal Centre Merrylands Marrickville Marrickville 9559 2899 www.mlc.asn.au Legal Centre Mt Druitt Rooty Hill 9675 2009 — and Area Community Legal Centre North and Armidale 6772 8100 www.nnwcls.org.au North West Northern Lismore 6621 1000 www.nrclc.org.au Rivers Community Legal Centre Redfern Redfern 9698 7277 www.rlc.org.au Legal Centre Shoalcoast Nowra 4422 9529 www.shoalcoast.org.au Community (Ulladulla South West Liverpool 9601 7777 www.swslc.org.au Sydney Legal Centre University Newcastle 4921 8666 www.newcastle.edu.au/ of Newcastle Western NSW Dubbo 6884 9422 www.wnswclc.org.au Community OTHER USEFUL CONTACTS CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE Institution Location Telephone Website The Shopfront Darlinghurst 9322 4808 www.theshopfront.org Youth Legal Centre LEGAL Institution Telephone Website NSW Law 9926 0300 www.lawsociety.com.au Society Solicitor or toll free Referral Service Court Support 9288 8700 www.crcnsw.org.au Scheme Public Interest 8898 6550 www.pilchnsw.org.au Law Clearing House FINANCE / CREDIT Institution Telephone Website Financial Counsellors’ — www.acwa.asn.au/fcan Association of NSW NSW Association of — www.ruralcounselling.org.au Rural Financial Counselling Groups NSW Credit Helpline 1800 808 488 Credit.Helpline@wesleymission.org.au LEGISLATION The Fines Act 1996 (NSW) and other laws and regulations referred to in this book can be found at: www.austlii.edu.au and www.legislation.nsw.gov.au Approved organisation/person: A person or body approved to supervise and administer WDOs by the Director General of the Department of Justice and Attorney General. Annulment: Discontinuance of SDRO enforcement action in relation to penalty notices, and referral to the Local Court for reconsideration. Centrepay: Payments made directly from Centrelink benefits. Charge on land: An indication on the lands register that there is an interest to the value of the outstanding fine existing over the property. CLC: Community Legal Centre. Court fine: A fine imposed by a court. CSO (Community Service Order): An order requiring a fine defaulter to perform community service in order to pay off a fine. Examination summons: An order for a person to attend court to answer questions and supply information. Garnishee order: Where a third party, such as a bank or employer, holds funds on a fine defaulter’s behalf, the SDRO can make an order directing that third party to pay the SDRO from the fine defaulter’s funds. HRB (Hardship Review Board): A division of the NSW Treasury with the authority to review a decision made by the SDRO in circumstances of genuine serious financial, medical and/or personal hardship. Instalment agreement: An arrangement with the SDRO to make part payments towards a penalty notice over 2 months, without incurring additional costs (available to persons who are in temporary financial difficulty). Here are some sample letters you can use. 12.1 Applying to set up a Time to Pay plan To apply for a Time to Pay plan with the SDRO, you have to fill in a Statement of Financial Circumstances and a Time to Pay application form. You can download these forms from the SDRO website (www.sdro.nsw.gov.au). Read the notes at the top of the form carefully. The information that you put on the form has to be true and correct. Statement of Financial Circumstances On the Statement of Financial Circumstances form you have to give: • your personal details; • the enforcement order number/s; • -details of your employment, including self-employment and possible future employment (if you are going to start a new job soon); • -details of any people you support financially (dependants); • -details of all your and your partner’s fortnightly income, including social security/Centrelink payments, family payments; • -details of your fortnightly expenses (it is important to put down all your expenses, even things you only pay once a year, such as car registration – the once a year ones can then be divided by 26 so that you know how much they cost per fortnight); • -details of all your assets (things you own), such as property (land or house or unit), car, shares, household goods; • -details of your liabilities (debts), such as loan repayments, HECS debt; • bank or other financial institution accounts; and • -any other information about your financial situation that you think is important. Attach all the useful and relevant documents you have – such as a report from a financial counsellor, a report from a community worker, documents from your employer or future employer, pay slips, bank statements, loan repayment statements, bills, Centrelink payment advice, and anything else that you think will help with your application. Time to Pay application form For the Time to Pay application, as well as the information listed on the previous page, you also have to propose a schedule of repayments. This can be either: • a lump sum and the rest by instalments; or • all of it by instalments. When you plan your repayments, don’t offer to pay more than you can afford to pay each week, fortnight or month, and think about how long the SDRO will be happy to wait to collect the money: a plan to pay everything off in 18 months to 2 years is usually acceptable. If you want some help filling in the forms, talk to a financial counsellor or community worker and/or contact the SDRO. 12.2 -Applying for a Work and Development Order (WDO) You have to apply for a WDO with an approved organisation or person. You have to fill in the forms and attach the supporting documents listed below. You can download these forms from the SDRO website (www.sdro.nsw.gov.au). Read each form carefully and make sure everything you put on each one is true and correct. WDO application form You have to provide the following information: • -your personal details (including proof of identity, such as a driver licence number); • -your contact details (you can decide that your contact details are to be care of your supporting organisation or health practitioner); • -the enforcement order number/s the WDO will relate to; • -the address and contact details of your supporting organisation or health practitioner; • -if the application is made by someone else who is acting for you, evidence that you have authorised them to make the application; • -the reasons for your WDO request; • -the activities you plan to do under the WDO and proof that you can do them; • -an explanation of how these activities will be beneficial to you; • -a proposed time for completing the activities; • -a declaration that a ‘Working with Children’ check has been undertaken for: • you, if the activities you plan to do are child-related; or • the person/s supervising you if you are under 18; • -the dollar amount of your fine that the WDO will pay off; and • -if your proposed WDO does not pay off all your debt to the SDRO, how you intend to deal with what is left. Your proposal should be realistic about what you can do and about your personal circumstances. - 12.3 -Applying for an internal review and telling the SDRO about your special/extenuating circumstances 01 October 20XX The Director State Debt Recovery Office PO Box A2571 Sydney South NSW 1235 Dear Sir/Madam, Application for review of speeding penalty notices 11223344, 33445566 and 55667788, and camera- detected red light penalty notice 99887766. I am writing to apply for internal review of the penalty notices listed above because of the following special circumstances. I own the vehicle with registration number ABC 123, which is the vehicle the penalty notices relate to, but I was not the driver when the offences were committed. My vehicle was stolen from the street outside my home at 789 XYZ Street, Sydney NSW 2000 on 27 August 20XX. I have enclosed copies of the police report I filed on 28 August 20XX and of the letter I sent on 2 September 20XX to the NRMA asking to make a claim under my insurance policy. The NSW police have given me Event Number 9999999 in relation to the theft of my vehicle. As your records show, these penalty notices were all given after 27 August 20XX, so I could not have been the driver of the vehicle when they were given. I don’t know who was driving the vehicle at those times. NSW RTA records will show that I have had a clear driving record since I got my NSW driver licence 7 years ago. I have also enclosed a certified copy of my traffic record from Vic Roads, which shows that I had a clean driving record for 10 years in Victoria. I am asking you to: • -withdraw penalty notices 11223344, 33445566, 55667788 and 99887766; and • -remove any demerit points on my driving record in relation to these penalty notices. If you have any questions, please contact me on 9786 5342. Yours sincerely Joe Bloggs 12.4 Applying for a write off 01 October 20XX The Director State Debt Recovery Office PO Box A2571 Sydney South NSW 1235 Dear Sir/Madam, Application for write off of enforcement order 12345678. My details are: Date of birth: XX Month 19XX Address: 789 XYZ Street, Sydney NSW 2000 Licence number: 99999999 I am applying for the enforcement order to be written off for the following reasons. I suffer from severe back problems and depression. I was hospitalised 4 months ago for my back problems, which were caused by injuries that happened 3 years ago. My doctor believes that I am unlikely to be fit to return to any kind of work in the next 18 months, so I cannot do unpaid work under a Work and Development Order or Community Service Order. Because of my medical condition and because I was a bricklayer, I am not likely to be able to get full-time work unless there is a great improvement in my condition. I have enclosed a medical report from Dr Fisher. I am also having psychiatric treatment. This is because of a court order. This treatment is not suitable for a Work and Development Order. My psychiatrist, Dr Goldsmith, has been treating me since 02 February 20XX for depression, which is caused by my marriage breakup and the divorce. I have enclosed Dr Goldsmith’s report. I live with my 4-year-old daughter – I share custody with my ex-wife. I am unemployed and have been on Centrelink benefits since 15 March 20XX. I have enclosed a Statement of Financial Circumstances, which says that I get $578.00 a fortnight, and shows that it is spent on rent, food, medical expenses, schooling costs, transport and loan repayments to Ram Loans & Credit. The loan repayments are for a car, which I have to have because of my back problems. I have enclosed supporting documents, including a letter from Centrelink and my car registration. I don’t own anything of value, except furniture and personal effects, that I can sell to pay my fines, and I don’t have family or friends who can help me financially. I feel it is unlikely that I will be able to pay off my debt to the SDRO, or manage a Time to Pay plan, in the next 12-18 months. I know that you can only write off the payment of fines in extreme circumstances, but I think it would be the right thing to do in my case. I would also like to ask for all proceedings against me to be stopped while you make your decision on this application. If you have any questions about this, please call me on 9876 5432. Yours sincerely Joe Bloggs 12.5 -Applying for a stay (postponement) of proceedings 01 October 20XX The Director State Debt Recovery Office PO Box A2571 Sydney South NSW 1235 Dear Sir/Madam, Application for stay of enforcement orders 99887766 and 11223344. I live at [insert address]. I am asking for an urgent stay of these enforcement orders. The RTA has put restrictions on my driver licence and there is a property seizure order from 30 April 2009. I am 31, and used to work as a labourer. I injured my spine playing rugby 18 months ago and have not been able to work as a labourer since then. At the moment, my expenses are more than my income. I am on a disability support pension, and I need extra help from community charities and my family and friends to cover my living costs. I am having treatment from a physiotherapist, Melissa Black, and an occupational therapist, Jennifer Lau. I also get home assistance from a Community Health caseworker, Ms Isabelle Smith. I have enclosed letters from Ms Black and Ms Smith that give their opinions about my recovery and return to work. Like them, I am confident I will be able to go back to full-time work within the next 6 months. I am in the middle of writing an Affidavit of Financial Circumstances and I have asked for a report from my doctor and my financial counsellor. I will send copies to you as soon as they arrive. I would like these orders stayed until I am in a position to set up a Time to Pay plan with the SDRO, which will be as soon as I am well enough to look for work. I am also asking you to lift the RTA restrictions until I have sent in a Time to Pay application. If you have any questions or need more information, please call me on 9234 5678. Yours sincerely Joe Bloggs 12.6 -Applying to the Hardship Review Board (HRB) 01 October 20XX Fines Hardship Review Board PO Box A2571 Sydney South NSW 1235 Dear Sir/Madam, Request for review of SDRO decision on a Time to Pay application I applied for a Time to Pay plan to pay enforcement order 111222333 in instalments. My application was approved, but the payments have been set at a higher rate than I asked for and I cannot pay them at that rate. I am asking for the Hardship Review Board (HRB) to review the SDRO’s decision and reduce my fortnightly payments to $20.00, which is what I asked for in the original application. Here are my reasons. I suffer from severe osteoarthritis and pain in my shoulders caused by age and a work-related injury that happened 2 years ago. My doctor, Dr Jordan, thinks I am unlikely to be fit to return to my previous work (as a truck driver) in the next 18 months. I have enclosed a medical report from Dr Jordan. At the moment, I am on worker’s compensation. I get $600.00 a fortnight, and it is all used for food, medical expenses, transport and mortgage payments (to the Commonwealth Bank). I have enclosed copies of letters from WorkCover NSW accepting my claim and bank statements from the last 3 months. I am also struggling because my wife died not long ago and I am still paying for the funeral. I have to pay it on my own because I have no family or friends who can help me financially. All this means that I can’t stick to the payment schedule in the Time to Pay plan. I am asking the board to reduce my instalments to $20.00 per fortnight. Also, I am asking you to suspend any enforcement action against me while you are reviewing my application. If you have any questions, please call me on 9876 5432. Yours sincerely Joe Bloggs NSW Ombudsman: An independent review body that deals with complaints against acts, decisions and omissions of most NSW government departments and agencies. RTA (Roads and Traffic Authority): The NSW government agency responsible for improving road safety, testing and licensing drivers, registering vehicles and managing the state road network. Penalty notice: A fine issued by an authorised officer such as a police officer, transit officer, parking inspector or council ranger. Also called an infringement notice. Property seizure order: An order issued by the SDRO giving the NSW Sheriff the power to seize a fine defaulter’s goods/property and auction them to raise money to pay the fine. SDRO (State Debt Recovery Office): A division of the NSW Office of State Revenue that provides a centralised system for the collection, processing and enforcement of fines issued by various government agencies and authorities. Time to Pay: An arrangement with the SDRO under which a person may apply for an extension of time in which to pay a fine. For a detailed summary, see 5.2. WDO (Work and Development Order): An order requiring a person who is on a government benefit to satisfy a fine by performing unpaid work, undergoing a specified treatment or undertaking a specified program as directed by the SDRO. For a detailed summary, see 5.3.
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