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Fines relief for vulnerable people through the WDO Scheme

The Work and Development Order (WDO) Scheme helps the most vulnerable people in NSW clear their fines.

Issue

woman looking sad

When someone doesn’t pay a fine, there are steps the government can take, including suspending a driver’s licence, cancelling car registration, seizing property, and garnishing wages or bank accounts.

Without a driver licence, it can be difficult to keep or find a job, especially in regional areas with limited public transport.

Driving on a suspended licence is illegal, though some still do it, accumulating more fines - and ultimately ending up in jail.

What the government did

The NSW Government introduced the world-first Work and Development Orders (WDOs) Scheme to help people who can't pay their fines.

A WDO allows someone to clear their fines by up to $1000 per month by carrying out approved activities that benefit both themselves and the community. These activities include:

  • doing volunteer work for charities
  • completing an education course
  • receiving financial counselling
  • undergoing medical treatment including treatment for mental health issues.

Suspension of a driver’s licence can also be lifted so a person can continue to drive while completing a WDO.

What was achieved

A WDO allows customers to gain much-needed skills, knowledge and treatment, and connects them to services that help them tackle issues beyond outstanding fines.

By July 2019:

  • more than 135,000 WDOs were completed or ongoing
  • $168 million in fines debt was resolved
  • more than half of WDOs involved mental health treatment plans
  • 1 in 5 WDOs were taken by Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people
  • 1 in 4 WDOs were taken by people under 25 years, breaking the cycle of fines debt early.
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