Monday, April 14, 2014


MEDIA RELEASE 19 February 2013

Melbourne City Council’s action to end the Court ‘poor box’ will hurt the most vulnerable
Victorian charitable organisations will be deprived millions of dollars from court-directed donations after Melbourne City Council successfully overturned the long-standing legal practice says the Victorian Council of Social Service.

‘Melbourne City Council’s action to end the court “poor box” will hurt community organisations who deliver important front line services to some of Victoria’s most disadvantaged people,’ said Carolyn Atkins, Acting CEO of VCOSS.

‘Court-ordered donations have directed millions of dollars to community organisations. In successfully ending the practice, the Council appears to have put their own financial benefit ahead of the needs of the most vulnerable in our community.’

‘The process, which has historical roots dating back hundreds of years, has allowed Magistrates to order that fines for relatively minor offences be paid as donations to community organisations working in the field where the offence occurred.’

‘Organisations who have received ordered donations in the past work directly with people in need and the funds from the courts have helped do things from put food vans on the streets to helping people find temporary accommodation and employment options.’

‘The last online annual report of the Magistrates Court for the 2010-11 year shows that 3,403 orders were made directing payments to charitable organisations.’

‘At a time of funding constraints, it is unacceptable to deny poor-box funds to accountable organisations who use the money to undertake activities that benefit the most vulnerable in our community,’ says Ms Atkins.

‘The donations system is also a meaningful way for people to make reparations to any harm or damage they may have caused – it promotes a more responsible and connected community.’
‘The outcome of this decision needs to be rectified as quickly as possible. VCOSS is calling on the Victorian Parliament to come together to amend the Sentencing Act (1991) to give specific provision to magistrates to be able to issue court-ordered donations.’

More information: PilchConnect media release Melbourne City Council statement

For more information, or to arrange an interview with Carolyn Atkins
contact John Kelly – M: 0418 127 153

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