NSW refuses to pardon thousands of kids for breaching COVID health orders

Report reveals NSW Police issued over 3,628 'unfair' fines to children throughout the era of lockdown madness.

NSW refuses to pardon thousands of kids for breaching COVID health orders
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Between 2020 and 2022, NSW Police issued 3,628 fines to children for breaching COVID-19 Public Health Orders, with most fines targeting low socio-economic areas, a recent report has revealed.

The highest fines reached AUD $5,000, though most were fixed at $1,000, significantly above the $1,100 maximum set by the NSW Children’s Court for child offences.

A recent report titled 'Children and COVID-19 Fines in NSW 2023,' funded by universities and legal advocacy groups, criticises the police for undermining public trust.

"Fine amounts for NSW COVID-19 PHO breaches were far too high for children to pay, and this caused significant hardship and distress," the report stated. It further labelled the fines as a policing failure, arguing they unfairly punished those unable to pay.

The report highlighted that police overlooked children's special circumstances, such as mental health issues, cognitive impairments, disabilities, or unsafe home environments, which often justified their presence outside the home.

Despite compelling examples from other states and countries where children were exempt from such fines, the NSW Government has not agreed to withdraw the penalties.

Advocacy groups condemned the governance as "heavy-handed and unfair," asserting that PHO policing unjustly drew children into the criminal justice system, worsening already strained relationships between police and over-policed communities.

The coalition behind the report proposed twelve recommendations, including improving communication, increasing field discretion, and reducing maximum fines for children to AUD $40.

They also suggested converting outstanding fines to Fines Act cautions or withdrawing them altogether.

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  • By Avi Yemini

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