Steve's story - bringing underlying circumstances to light to secure fair legal outcomes
Supporting Steve to set aside parking fines caused by homelessness.
Steve’s circumstances may never have been taken into account if IMCL hadn’t taken on his case and represented him in court.
He was fortunate enough to own a car, but was homeless. Whilst accessing crisis accommodation in our area, he’d racked up parking fines in the thousands of dollars. He wasn’t eligible for a local parking permit given his impermanent residental status and was forced to park in one and two hour spots. He was stuck between a rock and a hard place.
A financial counsellor at Ozanam helped him write to the local council to have the fines waived because he’d received them as a consequence of his homelessness. The council rejected his application, questioning the connection between the fines and his homelessness. As a result, Steve was sent to court. Before his hearing date, his counsellor let us know.
Steve told us that getting all the fines had made him "feel worse" . He explained that he was focussed on trying to find a place to live, "and then you know ,getting these fines was another thing on my mind, another stress in my life, another thing over my head. Steven identiefied the many challenges that people experiencing homelessness face, and the absurdity of fining people like him. “If you’re sleeping rough, you have no money, so how are you going to pay the fines? A lot of these people have got a mental illness or substance or alcohol issues; so fines are just going to be on top of having no money and having no home!” he said.
Fortunately the law is not always a blunt instrument, and we had an opportunity to put our case to a Magistrate, who agreed that Steve’s fines were indeed caused by his homelessness and for that, he shouldn’t be penalised. As a result, the fines were waived, enabling Steve to focus on finding stable accommodation.