These changes — the latest in a series of changes to the fine enforcement process in NSW — occurred after this paper was prepared for publication. Consequently, the fines enforcement process described in this paper is a process that was in place prior to the December 2008 changes. While many aspects of the process have remained the same, the new initiatives specifically aim to address the systemic difficulties that fines present to very disadvantaged people. Indeed, some of the options proposed by advocates and agencies, and outlined in this paper, have been included among the changes. Notably, however, the full impact of these amendments will not be evident for some years to come.
Despite the recent amendments to the fine enforcement system in NSW, we are publishing this paper as it was written prior to the changes. This is because the paper illustrates how fines and fine enforcement can present significant access to justice issues for disadvantaged people, issues which are not unique to NSW or even Australia. The paper also highlights the importance of redressing this disadvantage and why reforms to the fine enforcement system operating prior to December 2008 were necessary. Furthermore, by presenting a ‘snapshot’ of the impact of fines on disadvantaged people immediately prior to the December 2008 changes, the paper provides a useful baseline for monitoring the impact of fines on disadvantaged people in NSW into the future.