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Refugee fights driving fines with the help of Suncoast CLS

A client from a non-English speaking background had arrived in Australia as a refugee approximately 8 years ago with his wife and young daughter.  The client held several lowly paid casual jobs to support his wife and daughter but needed a higher income as they had decided to apply for Australian citizenship which was expensive. 

He had decided on training to become a taxi driver and made the relevant applications however received a “show cause” letter from the Department of Transport advising him that due to 3 driving offences that they were going to refuse his application unless he gave them a reason not to.  Upon review of the letter and the offences, Suncoast Community Legal Service, together with USC Law Clinic students under their supervision, wrote a submission to the Department explaining the unfortunate set of circumstances which led to the driving offences. 

The client had obtained a drivers’ licence on his arrival in Australia but did not appreciate it was a restricted licence so when he was caught speeding on one occasion he lost his licence.  His licence was suspended for 3 months due to expire on 15 May.  The client interpreted this to mean he could resume driving on 15 May and was unfortunately picked up by the police on 15 May and he was charged with driving on a suspended licence.  Upon a full explanation of the circumstances and the unintentional error of the client, the Department decided to issue the client with a taxi licence. 

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