Community lawyers welcome Transurban’s new approach to dealing with financial hardship to help vulnerable people better manage their toll road debts.
The changes under the Transurban LinkAssist Program were announced during its AGM today and include first time forgiveness programs; fee waivers; time to pay arrangements and special circumstances considerations.
WEstjustice (Vic), Western Sydney (NSW) and South West Brisbane (QLD) Community Legal Centres were three of more than 50 organisations involved in Transurban’s recent pilot projects in Werribee VIC, Blacktown NSW, and Ipswich/Logan QLD.
Western Sydney Community Legal Centre Limited’s Principal Solicitor Louise Coady said community legal centres help people who can’t pay their toll debts because they’re experiencing homelessness, domestic violence, or severe financial disadvantage.
“These people often face a choice between paying road tolls along with their add-on fees, or keeping food on their table and a roof over their family’s head,” she said.
“These problems often escalate, and these people are usually in crisis by the time they come to see us to get legal help.”
Community Legal Centres Queensland Director James Farrell said Transurban’s pilot project proved a more nuanced and supportive approach was needed to ensure people’s circumstances were taken into account.
“Transurban’s new approach will provide clearer information, links to community support services, and more sensible ways for disadvantaged people to deal with their debts,” he said.
WEstJustice CEO Denis Nelthorpe said this was an important step forward, saving money and stress for disadvantaged people.
“Victoria’s infringements system punishes many of our most marginalised and disadvantaged people, and there’s a need for broad reform,” he said.
“Positive changes, like those Transurban has adopted today are an important step in the right direction.”’