Your Matters Matter – Carole and Anna

Humanitarian Stories

Your Matters Matter – Carole and Anna

By Elizabeth McAuley

Carole is an elderly lady, who with her daughter Anna, sought help from Salvos Legal Humanitarian in Queensland about a speeding fine for which they were not responsible. Carole is a pensioner and struggles to complete day to day tasks due to mobility issues. Anna lives with Carole as her carer and takes care of the majority of the daily tasks, ensuring that Carole is well looked after. Carole and Anna sought our help because Carole’s car had the rear number plate stolen one night when parked outside their home.

As soon as Anna realised what had happened, she contacted the police to notify them of the theft. She then did the right thing and surrendered the front number plate to the Department of Transport and Main Roads (‘TMR’). Under normal circumstances you might be excused for thinking that would be the end of the matter.

Approximately one month after surrendering the remaining number plate to TMR, Carole received a traffic infringement notice in the mail for speeding. The evidence relied upon a photo which clearly showed the stolen number plate on the rear of the vehicle. Upon close inspection, both Carole and Anna did not recognise the car with the number plate, as it did not belong to Carole. Further, the date of the infringement was after the front number plate had been surrendered to TMR. Anna called the local police station to inform them of the mistake but was told that a report had not been made of the theft of the plate and that she should have called Policelink.

This situation was causing Carole and Anna much distress as they were worried at the prospect of having to pay a fine for an infringement neither of them had committed. Anna thought she would again communicate with the relevant government agency over the mistake. With the help of a friend, Anna prepared the required statutory declaration stating that the number plate had been stolen. She also attached a copy of the TMR receipt as proof of her surrendering the remaining number plate. Unfortunately this evidence was not accepted and another infringement notice was issued.

Frustrated at their inability to convince the agency that neither of them was responsible, Anna was pointed in the direction of Salvos Legal Humanitarian by a close friend who had ties to The Salvation Army. This matter had already caused both Carole and Anna a significant amount of stress and they came into our Goodna Advice Bureau with the hope that we could do something to help them. As Carole has mobility issues and struggles to walk unassisted, attending the Bureau was physically taxing.

We told Carole that we would help her but that we required further information. We asked her to supply us with a copy of the original statutory declaration and to return to our next advice bureau which they did. We assured Carole that we would provide her with assistance on a limited basis and that we would prepare an additional statutory declaration to be sent to the Traffic Camera Office. We asked Anna to provide us with copies of the TMR receipt, the infringement notice and a night time photo of the rear of her car with the tail lights on.

We prepared statutory declarations for both Carole and Anna which attached copies of Anna’s phone records showing that she had called the police station when she said she did, the original TMR receipt and a photo of her tail light configuration to show that it was a different configuration to the one pictured on the infringement notice.

Shortly after Anna submitted the documents they received a letter from the Traffic Camera Office stating that the infringement had been withdrawn. Both Carole and Anna were delighted with the outcome considering they would have both been out of pocket a significant sum of money neither of them could afford. If we had not provided assistance, Carole would have either had to pay the infringement notice and accept the demerit points or proceed to court as a self-represented litigant. As a pensioner, Carole was unable to pay for a private solicitor to prepare these documents or represent her.

Both Carole and Anna were extremely grateful for the assistance they received as they had feared that this matter would take a long time to be resolved and they were concerned how Carole would cope having to attend court due to her age and mobility issues. Carole and Anna had found the process to be confusing and extremely stressful and said that with assistance from Salvos Legal Humanitarian, they felt as though they had someone in their corner fighting for them.

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Your Matters Matter – Carole and Anna