While he was homeless and living under severe financial stress, John (not his real name) received a series of transport/train fines.
By the time he came to see the Homeless Persons’ Legal Service (HPLS) John owed about $2000 to the State Debt Recovery Office (SDRO) and they had started taking money from his bank account. At one stage John’s entire disability support pension was taken, which was very distressing for him.
HPLS helped ensure that this money was returned to John (almost immediately) by advocating on his behalf to the SDRO. HPLS also helped him put together an application to write-off the debt. This involved helping him to get references from a Centrelink social worker, his doctor and to gather his financial records. The application was successful and John’s debt was entirely written off.
Not only has this assisted John financially but the outcome has also helped improve his mental health as he is no longer living in fear that he will be made homeless again because he can’t pay his fines.