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Push to waive ‘excessive’ COVID-19 fines issued to more than 1500 teenagers 

Neil Mitchell
Article image for Push to waive ‘excessive’ COVID-19 fines issued to more than 1500 teenagers 

A youth legal rights service is pushing for fines issued to children and teenagers during the COVID-19 pandemic to be waived.

More than 1500 teenagers received fines for breaching the Chief Health Officer’s directions, with the fines totalling $2.3 million.

Advocacy and human rights officer at Youthlaw, Tiffany Overall, says the fines, some of which were more than $1600, are “unprecedented for children”.

“These fines are up to 10 times higher than we’ve ever seen imposed in a children’s fine system before,” she told Neil Mitchell.

“These fines are clogging up the court system and unfortunately dragging young people into the criminal justice system.

“The reality is many young people don’t have income and don’t have capacity to pay these fines.”

Ms Overall says some teenagers who were fined didn’t know they were doing the wrong thing.

“We’re talking about very minor breaches,” she said.

“We know of a case where there’s a 14-year-old girl who spoke limited English who was fines $1652 for going away from home. Basically she was a passenger in a car that travelled more than five kilometres from a home.

“She did have her mask on at the time, so she was arguably confused.”

For example we know of a case where there’s a 14-year-old girl who spoke limited English who was fines $1652 for going away from home. Basically she was a passenger in a car that travelled more than five kilometres from a home.

“She did have her mask on at the time, so she was arguably confused.

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Image: Darrian Traynor / Getty

Neil Mitchell
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