Urgent Help
IS THIS AN EMERGENCY? Are you or others in danger? Do you need an ambulance or the police? 24 HOURS
Lifeline 24 hour phone line for crisis support and suicide prevention. 24 HOURS
13YARN 24 hour crisis phone line support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. 24 HOURS

COVID-19 fine reprieve welcome, but police must show compassion for disadvantaged young people with multiple infringements

A move to reverse the majority of COVID-19 fines handed out in Victoria during lockdown in 2020 must include leniency and compassion for young people who attracted multiple infringements, says the Youth Support + Advocacy Service (YSAS). 

YSAS is Victoria’s largest provider of alcohol and other drug services for young people, with 19 sites across the state. YSAS CEO Andrew Bruun said many YSAS clients have been severely impacted by the fines, sometimes up to $20,000 for one young person.  

Victoria Police data from September 2020 revealed that at that time, of the 16,565 COVID-related fines, 1,403 were handed out to under 18 year olds, and 4,298 to 18-24 year olds. 

“Many of our young people contend each day with problems that made compliance with COVID-19 restrictions extremely challenging such as family violence, unstable housing and difficult mental health issues. Some have attracted multiple fines. These extremely vulnerable young people should not be considered in the group that the State Government has identified as the ‘most egregious offenders’. 

“We support the effective public health initiatives applied by the Government to control Victoria’s devastating COVID-19 outbreak, including administering fines. Even so, fining extremely vulnerable young people and communities with legitimate reasons for not being able to comply with COVID-19 restrictions is unfair and detrimental. The revocation of these fines is both sensible and compassionate,” Mr Bruun said. 

“We work hard to enable our clients to overcome disadvantage and demonstrate to them that a better future is possible. Massive fines create an unnecessary barrier to this more constructive, healthy path and will end up with our young people tangled up in the justice system, the same one we’re working every day to keep them out of. No one wants that.”

About YSAS

The Youth Support + Advocacy Service (YSAS) is Australia’s largest, youth-specific community service organisation. Operating since 1998 as Victoria’s flagship Youth Alcohol and Other Drug (AOD) service, YSAS now employs over 350 skilled staff across 19 sites in metropolitan and regional Victoria. While YSAS continues to provide effective Youth AOD services, the organisation also has extensive experience in providing young people and families with services that support improved mental health and meaningful community participation.

The latest from YSAS

Media Release  
23.05.2024

Up to 330 young people per year who come into contact with police will be denied access to an effective program that can turn them away from crime and toward a better future.

Despite a recent rise in youth crime and concerns about community safety, the State Government did…

Media Release  
23.04.2024

YSAS welcomes the Allan government’s Statewide Action Plan to reduce alcohol-related harm, including the appointment of Victoria’s first Chief Addiction Advisor.

YSAS CEO Andrew Bruun said the plan demonstrates the government’s commitment to making evidence-based harm reduction policy and treatment available to those who most need it.

“A targeted,…

Media Release  
23.04.2024

Young people with lived experience of drug and alcohol-related harm are disappointed the Victorian government won’t create a safe injecting service in Melbourne’s CBD.

YSAS practitioners, addiction medicine specialists and experts with lived and living experience have supported the life-saving North Richmond supervised safe injecting service since its inception in 2018.

Story  
22.04.2024

John Albrecht has fundraised for febfast each year for 15 years, often raising over $10,000. Here are his top tips for boosting your fundraising efforts.

When it comes to charity fundraisers – think febfast, Run for the Kids etc. – it’s often the money-raising bit that’s the hardest. We diligently…

Story  
04.03.2024

Daniel Robinson Croft is a lived and living experience Youth Peer Advocate at Youth Support and Advocacy Service (YSAS), Australia’s largest youth-specific community service organisation focussed on youth alcohol and other drugs, mental health and youth services. Daniel frequently volunteers for various harm reduction services within Victoria and is a community campaigner for…

Story  
08.02.2024

This opinion piece was featured on ABC Health & Wellbeing on 11 February 2023.

What if I told you I’d found a tablet that could make you sleep better, think clearer, concentrate longer, run faster, and help your immune system?

That doing one simple thing could bring such a…

Media Release  
07.02.2024

One week into the month-long national fundraiser febfast over 2,000 participants have signed up to take a break from alcohol, go sugar-free of give up another vice. In the midst of Australia’s cost-of-living crisis it’s never been a more important time to support charities experiencing the double pinch of…

Media Release  
31.01.2024

National fundraiser febfast has begun— where Aussies ditch booze, sugar or another vice to improve their health and raise funds for young people facing addiction.

To mark the beginning of febfast, CEO of VicHealth Dr Sandro Demaio is available to talk about the scientific health benefits…