In this Yuwaya Ngarra-li (YN) Partnership webinar you will hear from key representatives of the Dharriwaa Elders Group, Aboriginal Legal Service and UNSW Sydney about their work to address fine debt in Walgett.

The Dharriwaa Elders Group (DEG) has witnessed the detrimental impact of fines in their community, leading to cycles of financial hardship, poverty and criminalisation. Fines, issued as civil and criminal penalties, can result in secondary criminalisation when individuals are unable to pay, leading to further interactions with police. During the COVID pandemic, the over-policing in Walgett resulted in the highest rate of public health order fines in NSW, disproportionately affecting Aboriginal community members.

As a response, DEG, with support from YN, has established its Dealing with Fines project, which aims to improve access to justice and reduce criminalisation. It focuses on assisting people to resolve their fine debt through access to culturally appropriate legal services and advice, and culturally appropriate Work and Development Orders (WDOs) to address community priorities and social needs.

The panel includes:

  • Peta MacGillivray, Yuwaya Ngarra-li Senior Research Fellow (Law & Justice), UNSW 
  • Zoe Sands, Yuwaya Ngarra-li Project Officer, Dharriwaa Elders Group 
  • Lauren Stefanou, Principal Solicitor (Justice Projects, Policy & Practice), Aboriginal Legal Service 
  • Dr Rebecca Reeve, Yuwaya Ngarra-li Senior Research Fellow (Quantitative Research), UNSW.