The Work and Development Permit (WDP) scheme is a new initiative to provide vulnerable and disadvantaged people with a non-financial option to address their fine debt. A WDP allows an eligible person to work off their fine debt by participating in certain activities and treatment. The WDP scheme commenced on 1 July 2017.
A person must undertake a WDP under the supervision of a sponsor. A sponsor is an organisation or a health practitioner accredited by the Director, Fines Victoria to support the WDP scheme.
An organisation or a health practitioner may apply to become a WDP sponsor to assist their clients to deal with their fine debt and to encourage engagement with services. If an eligible person is already engaged with an organisation or a health practitioner that is not yet a WDP sponsor, the organisation or health practitioner can contact the WDP Team to get information about becoming a sponsor (see details below).
Only a sponsor may apply for a WDP on behalf of an eligible person.
To participate in the WDP scheme a person must be engaged with a sponsor and must:
- have a mental or intellectual disability, disorder or illness
- have an addiction to drugs, alcohol or a volatile substance
- be experiencing homelessness
- be experiencing acute financial hardship, or
- be the victim of family violence.
The types of activities that a person can undertake as part of a WDP include:
- unpaid work
- treatment given by a doctor, nurse or psychologist
- courses, including educational, vocational or life skills courses
- counselling, including financial or other types of counselling
- drug and alcohol counselling, and
- mentoring (for a person under 25 years of age).
When applying for a WDP, a sponsor will help a person to choose the activities that are best suited to their needs.
An eligible person can undertake a WDP to reduce or work off their infringement fine debt. There are some circumstances in which a fine cannot be included in a WDP, for example if:
- a person has been served a seven day notice in relation to the fine and the seven day notice period has expired
- the person has been arrested
- property has been seized in relation to the fine, or
- the fine is a court fine.
While a person is undertaking a WDP, enforcement activity is suspended in relation to the fines that are subject to the WDP.
Other options to deal with fines
A WDP is one of a number of options available to deal with fines. Some of the other options to deal with fines include:
- payment (including payment by instalments)
- internal review (including on the grounds of special circumstances)
- enforcement review
- electing to have a matter determined by a Magistrate , or
- the family violence scheme
The most appropriate option to deal with fines will depend on a person’s circumstances. To help decide which option is the most suitable, a person may wish to seek legal advice, for example, by contacting a community legal centre via the Federation of Community Legal Centres or Victoria Legal Aid
The WDP scheme is established under Part 2A of the Fines Reform Act 2014. The scheme is supported by the WDP Guidelines. The WDP Guidelines are made by the Attorney-General under section 10L of the Fines Reform Act 2014 and set out certain requirements and details relating to the scheme.