In the Public Eye: personal stories of homelessness and fines
Anthony became homeless in his late 20s. He slept rough and couch surfed for about two years and he got about $3000 in fines for travelling on public transport without a ticket, having his feet on the train seat and possessing an open container of liquor. Anthony now feels hopeful about his future. He is in recovery, has stable housing and is looking forward to returning to work or study.
There are over 22,000 people who are homeless in Victoria. These people are living in temporary accommodation, staying in refuges, sleeping in their cars, paying over $200 per week for a bed in a rooming house, couch surfing and, for 1,092 people, sleeping on the streets.
People who are homeless are (1) more likely to get fines because they are forced to carry out their private lives in public places; and (2) less likely to be able to address the fines through payment or navigating the complex legal system.
The current fines system in Victoria does not address the underlying causes of a person’s offending. Instead it issues financial penalties that people can’t pay and increases the strain they’re already under.