Friday, September 25, 2015

Community Safety Family Violence Moreland Community Legal Centre, Melbourne calls for amendment to Victoria’s Infringements Act Abusive Partners Notch Up Fines Herald Sun September 24, 2015 Financial/ Economic Abuse Spurious Court Actions Covert Bullying



Moreland Community Legal Centre calls for amendment to Victoria’s Infringements Act

September 24, 2015 2:03pm
Domestic violence victims can be left with bills and unpaid fines accrued by their former abusive partners.
DOMESTIC violence victims are being dragged into court to defend massive fines that their abusive partners notch up, a community lawyer says.
Moreland Community Legal Centre principal lawyer Mehernaz Sadafi has called for Victoria’s Infringements Act to be amended so fines racked up in the names of family violence victims could be revoked.
She said abusive partners were frequently amassing tens of thousands of dollars worth of fines in the names of their partners, who were often unaware of the debts until receiving a warrant.
“Just as mental health, homelessness, and drug and alcohol dependence can be considered as a reason for a fine to be removed, family violence should be able to be considered,” she said.
“The Infringements Act needs to be amended, as this is becoming prevalent and there is nothing in current legislation to protect (family violence victims).”
Ms Sadafi said she argued for seven hours across two days to overturn $40,000 in vehicle fines, which had been amassed by a partner using a car registered in a woman’s name.
They related to red light, speeding and parking fines, and CityLink and EastLink toll charges, which incurred hundreds of dollars in administration fees for non-payment.
The action was eventually successful, but Ms Sadafi said the court ordeal further damaged the woman’s mental state.
“She broke down in the dock when she was giving evidence, as she thought she was going to go to jail and never see her kids again,” Ms Sadafi said.
“Family violence needs to be considered at the start of the infringements stage so these vulnerable women do not have to go to court.”
Ms Sadafi said she argued for seven hours across two days to overturn $40,000 in vehicle fines, which had been amassed by a partner using a car registered in a woman’s name.
Ms Sadafi is also representing a woman who had $100,000 in debts in her name after her former partner took out large loans in her name.
Moreland Council has thrown its weight behind the campaign for an Infringements Act change, and will look at the overlap between family violence and its rates and infringements processes.
Mayor Meghan Hopper said she would contact other councils urging them to support the campaign and would write to Attorney-General Martin Pakula and Family Violence Prevention Minister Fiona Richardson urging changes to the Act.
A spokeswoman for Mr Pakula, Christine Tyrrell, said the government would wait for recommendations of the Royal Commission into Family violence, which is due to report its findings to the government in February, before considering substantive changes to the Infringements Act.

http://m.heraldsun.com.au/leader/north-west/moreland-community-legal-centre-calls-for-amendment-to-victorias-infringements-act/story-fnrvvn43-1227542069711

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