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Apply for a fine conversion order

If your client wishes to convert his or her outstanding fine into an order to do unpaid community work, your client can make an application to the Magistrates' Court under section 65 of the Sentencing Act.

Important changes from 31 December 2017

From 1 July 2017, the Infringements Act 2006 (Vic) was changed as part of Victoria's fines reform process, including new ‘social justice initiatives' that affect people experiencing vulnerability. On 31 December 2017, the Fines Reform Act 2014 (Vic) commenced, creating Fines Victoria. This resulted in significant further changes to the infringements system and substantially shorter timeframes for dealing with infringements and fines.

Please be aware of these reforms in relation to any infringements assistance that you are providing to your clients.

We are in the process of updating Homeless Law in Practice. Justice Connect Homeless Law pro bono lawyers should read our further materials about the changes here (password needed), before doing any fines work after 1 July 2017. Please speak to your supervising lawyer, team leader or Homeless Law staff for more information.

Your client will need to attend a Magistrates' Court and submit an application with the registrar. There is no fee payable to submit this application. The registrar will usually only grant an application where your client is unemployed or if there is some exceptional reason why the fine cannot be paid off by instalments.

The registrar is likely to ask your client questions about their financial situation and request to see your client's financial records or documentation to support your client's application. In some cases, your client may be required to swear an affidavit as to their financial situation.

If your client's application to convert a fine to community work is granted, your client will be asked to sign a form and be required to report to community corrections by 4pm, usually on that day or the next day. It will be up to community corrections as to when and where your client is required to work and the type of work your client will need to perform. Your client will be required to do a minimum eight hours of work and the conversion is one hour for each 0.2 penalty unit (0.2 penalty units equals $30.33 as at 1 July 2015) owing (
section 69O).

Your client should consider whether they will be able to do unpaid community work and to comply with the strict conditions.  If your client does not comply with the conditions, they could face more severe consequences.  Accordingly, when advising your client about the option to do community work, you should keep in mind whether the client:

  • has options available to him or her (for example, an application to vary or cancel the order);
  • consents to a conversion order;
  • is eligible for a conversion order; and
  • would be able to comply with the conditions in the conversion order.


Your client will be eligible for a conversion order if:

  • the outstanding fine does not exceed an amount equivalent to the value of 100 penalty units ($15,167). This rate is applicable for the year 1 July 2015- 30 June 2016 and will vary each financial year according to the definition of 'penalty unit' under section 5(3) of the Monetary Units Act 2004 (Vic);
  • your client agrees to work a minimum of 8 hours and a maximum of 500 hours; and
  • your client consents to performing unpaid community work.

Conditions of a fine conversion order

If your client is ordered to do unpaid community work, then he or she will effectively work off the outstanding amount of the fine at a rate of 0.2 penalty units ($30.33 as at 1 July 2015) per hour (section 69O of the Sentencing Act). 

Your client cannot work more than 20 hours in a seven day period unless he or she has requested to do so and signs a written consent to working additional hours. 

The total number of hours worked cannot exceed the following time periods (section 69Q of the Sentencing Act):

Number of hours


376 to 500

24 months

251 to 275

18 months

126 to 250

12 months

51 to 125

6 months

50 or less

3 months

Your client will also be subject to the following conditions:

  • your client cannot commit, whether in or outside Victoria, an offence punishable by imprisonment;
  • your client must report to, and receive visits from the Secretary during the period of the order;
  • your client must report to a specified community corrections centre within two clear working days after the order comes into force;
  • your client must report to, and receive visits from, a community corrections officer;
  • your client must notify the Secretary of any change of address or employment within two working days after the change;
  • your client cannot leave Victoria without the permission of the Secretary; and
  • your client must comply with any instruction given by the Secretary that it is necessary for the Secretary to give to ensure that he or she complies with the order (section 69V of the Sentencing Act).

Breach of conditions of a fine conversion order

If your client contravenes the conditions of a fine conversion order, he or she may be charged under section 83ADA of the Sentencing Act.  A proceeding for an offence under section 83ADA of the Sentencing Act is commenced by filing a charge sheet under section 83AG(1).

A proceeding under section 83AG of the Sentencing Act, must be commenced within 12 months of the date the fine conversion order ceases to be in force (section 83AH). Once a proceeding is commenced, the Court may issue a summons or warrant to arrest your client under section 12 of the Criminal Procedure Act. If your client is arrested, he or she will brought before the Magistrates' Court under section 83AI of the Sentencing Act.

If the Magistrate finds your client guilty of the offence, the Magistrate may impose a fine of up to $1516.70 (i.e. 10 penalty units) (section 83ADA of the Sentencing Act).

Where your client is found guilty under section 83ADA of the Sentencing Act, in addition to sentencing your client, the Court must under section 83ASA(1) of the Sentencing Act:

  • vary the order in any manner set out in section 83ASA(3) of the Sentencing Act (for example, cancelling the order and making no further order in respect of the offence, varying the order, reducing the number of hours required to be worked under the order or attaching a new condition to the order); or
  • confirm the order originally made; or
  • cancel the order and re-sentence the client; or
  • cancel the order and make no further order with respect to the offence.

A court, in determining how to sentence the client must take into account the extent to which he or she has complied with the order (section 83ASA(6)).

In sentencing a person for a contravention of a fine conversion order, if the Court considers that the orders under sections 83ASA(1) and (3) of the Sentencing Act are not adequate because:

  • of the nature of the offence; and
  • of the characteristics of the offender; and
  • the offender has intentionally refused to pay the fine or instalment and to perform unpaid community work,

The Court may impose a sentence of imprisonment of one day for each penalty unit or part of a penalty unit then remaining unpaid up to a maximum of 24 months (section 83ASA(7) of the Sentencing Act). 

Variation or cancellation of a fine conversion order

Either your client or a representative of the state (such as a community corrections officer or a police officer) can apply to the Magistrates' Court to vary or cancel the fine conversion order (section 68) or an unpaid community work order (section 69J) while it is in force.

The Magistrate may confirm, vary or cancel a fine conversion order (section 67) or fine default unpaid community work order (section 69I) and re-sentence your client under the Sentencing Act if the court is satisfied that:

  • the circumstances of your client have materially altered since the order was made resulting in your client being unable to comply with the order;
  • the circumstances of your client were wrongly stated or were not accurately presented to the court before the order was made; or
  • your client no longer consents to the order.

The Magistrate must decide what order it will make on the basis of its assessment of the extent to which your client has complied with the order.

Part payment of outstanding fines to reduce community service


While the conversion order is in force, your client can pay part of the outstanding fines which will reduce the number of hours that your client is required to work (calculated by 0.2 penalty unit ($30.33per hour)) (section 69U of the Sentencing Act).