Sydney’s Redfern Legal Centre has called on the NSW government to revoke COVID-19 fines that it says have been issued incorrectly to people undertaking lawful recreation.
The centre says it is assisting a number of clients who have been issued with fines ranging from $1000 to $3000 for sitting in a park away from others, not gathering and not in an Area of Concern.
Samantha Lee, solicitor with the policy accountability practice at Redfern legal centre, says they are concerned the cases they are seeing are just the “tip of the iceberg.”
Ms Lee said the laws around social distancing have changed more than 60 times since they were first introduced and she herself struggles to keep up with them.
“What that does is it causes great confusion, not just for members of the community but for agencies such as Revenue NSW who assess the appeals.
The NSW Government website clearly states that the law does allow people to sit for relaxation, or to eat, drink or read outdoors.”
The centre is calling for better training of NSW police and the legal issuing of COVID fines.
“The actions of police should be accountable and transparent. Police are a government body and their actions should be reviewable. Accountability and transparency help to build trust in police and the process, she said.
There are also concerns about the impact of fines on First Nations communities in regional areas.
“We’re putting the call out for anyone who’s been issued a fine across NSW to contact Redfern Legal Centre and see if it can be appealed.
Unfortunately First Nations people are usually the ones who are more policed than other communities, and when new offences are introduced what happens is those who are policed are just policed more.”