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Can't pay your fines?

Can’t pay your fines?

A Work and Development Order can reduce your fines by up to $1000 a month.

I’ve got a fine. What should I do?

You can always do something about a fine, even if you can’t pay it in full by the due date. You can:

  • clear your fines with a Work and Development Order (WDO) if you are eligible
  • ask for an extension of time to pay
  • ask for a review
  • pay by instalments or Centrepay
  • apply to have the fine written off if you have serious financial, medical or domestic problems

Tip! Overdue fines are serious.

Revenue NSW will add more costs to your fine and can:

  • suspend your licence
  • cancel your car registration
  • take money from your bank account or wages
  • seize and sell things you own
  • make a Community Service Order

So don’t ignore a fine. If you can’t pay, get help quickly.

Noel's Story

Noel is an Aboriginal man with a young baby. He has  unpaid fines for not voting and driving an unregister vehicle. His licence has been suspended.

Noel wants his licence back so he can get to work and drive his family around. He is accepted into the WDO program at the Local Aboriginal Land Council doing voluntary work.

He volunteers every Friday, reducing his fines by $30 an hour.

Noel gets his licence back when he starts his WDO.

He completes his WDO in one month and is  now back on the road debt free.

What is a Work and Development Order?

WDOs help vulnerable people who can’t pay their fines.

If you are eligible for a WDO, you can clear your fines with activities instead of money. You can do unpaid work, counselling, courses, treatment programs and more.

WDOs are supervised by WDO sponsors. They can be a government or non-government organisation, health service, psychologist, doctor or nurse.

Any enforcement action that has been taken against you for unpaid fines such as restrictions on your licence, will be lifted when your WDO starts.

Can I get a WDO?

If you ✔tick one or more of these boxes, you could be eligible for a WDO:

I get a Centrelink benefit


I am in financial hardship


I am homeless or living in temporary accommodation


I have an addiction to drugs, alcohol or other substances


I have a mental illness


I have an intellectual disability


I have cognitive impairment (such as autism, brain injury or dementia)


I am under 18 years of age

Zoe’s story

Zoe has bipolar disorder and gets a Disability Support Pension.

She has over $7000 in unpaid fines. Zoe is seeing a new community mental health nurse who has agreed to sponsor her WDO.

As long as Zoe follows her mental health treatment plan, which includes regular appointments with her mental health nurse and taking her medication, she will clear her fines by $1000 a month.

How it works

Follow these 4 easy steps

1.Are you eligible for a WDO? Check the table above.

2Get a sponsor

Some WDO sponsors are listed on the Revenue NSW website or you can call the WDO hotline If you can’t find one in your area, the WDO Service at Legal Aid NSW may be able to help you find one.The WDO sponsor will confirm if you are eligible for a WDO and tell you what information you need to give them

3. Agree on your activities

You and your WDO sponsor decide what activities you'll do. You can find examples of activities below. Your sponsor will set up your WDO with Revenue NSW.

4. Complete your WDO hours

Complete the activities you’ve agreed to do. Your WDO sponsor will report the hours to Revenue NSW each month.

TIP! An organisation or health practitioner you are engaging with might already be a WDO sponsor. Ask them.

TIP! It’s very important that you complete the activities you’ve agreed to do for your WDO. If you don’t complete your WDO, it may be cancelled and enforcement action will start again.

WDO activities and rates




$50 per hour

Courses at TAFE, uni or college Life skills programs like cooking,

gardening, anger management, positive

parenting or learning to drive

Training courses in computer skills or preparing for jobs

Counselling (includes case management)

$50 per hour

Individual counselling or therapy to improve mental health, emotional or behavioural issues

Family counselling

Group counselling or support groups Financial counselling

Case management meetings with a social worker or case worker

Unpaid work

$30 per hour

Volunteering at a charity, neighbourhood centre, community garden or bush care program

Medical or mental health treatment

Up to

$1000 per month

Health practitioner treatment plan

Seeing a psychologist or mental health nurse under a GP's mental health care plan

Voluntary or involuntary treatment in a mental health facility or in the community

Drug and alcohol treatment

Up to

$1000 per month

Drug and alcohol counselling Residential rehabilitation programs

Supervised outpatient detoxification programs


Mentoring programs (for under 25 years)

Up to

$1000 per month

Youth mentoring program Working one-on-one with an

experienced person, such as an Elder, to

achieve your goals

Mentoring for ex-prisoners to provide post-release support

Maximum monthly amount $1000

Joanne’s story

Joanne is 17 and on Youth Allowance. She’s been couch surfing for a few months because of problems at home.

Joanne has fines of $1500 for catching trains without an Opal card and driving as an unaccompanied learner. She wants to clear her fines so she can apply for a licence.

Joanne is able to do a WDO because she is under 18. She is doing some programs at her local youth centre, including a mentoring program.

Joanne is able to clear her fines and learn some new skills at the same time.

If you can’t do a WDO

If you get a fine, ask for help. It’s important to deal with fines as soon as possible. There may be other options available to you.

Are you disqualified from driving?

If you are suspended or disqualified from driving, for reasons other than unpaid fines, a WDO will NOT lift your driving restrictions.

You may be able to have your disqualification period removed.

Legal help

Legal Aid NSW

You can get free legal advice and in some cases assistance from Legal Aid NSW. To find your closest office call 1300 888 529 or go to ‘Get Legal Help’ at www.legalaid.nsw.gov.au

The Work and Development Order Service gives legal advice, information and assistance about unpaid fines. They can help you find a WDO sponsor. To find a WDO Service in your region visit www.legalaid.nsw.gov.au/wdo

If you are interested in becoming a WDO sponsor email wdo@legalaid.nsw.gov.au

LawAccess NSW

A telephone helpline that gives free legal information, referrals to other services and legal advice in some cases. Call 1300 888 529 or visit www.lawaccess.nsw.gov.au

Revenue NSW

For information about your fines and WDOs. Call 1300 478 879 or visit www.revenue.nsw.gov.au

This publication is a general guide to the law. You should not rely on it as legal advice, and we recommend that you talk to a lawyer about your situation.

The information is correct at the time of printing. However it may change. For more information contact LawAccess NSW on 1300 888 529.

© Legal Aid NSW 2018

Order brochures online at

www.legalaid.nsw.gov.au/publications or email publications@legalaid.nsw.gov.au

Do you need help to contact us?

If you need an interpreter, call the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS

National) on 131 450 (9am – 5pm) and ask for LawAccess NSW.

If you find it hard to hear or speak, call the National Relay Service (NRS) on 133 677 and ask for LawAccess NSW or visit www.relayservice.gov.au

March 2018