Community service – an overview
Community service is unpaid work that an offender is ordered to do by a court. People can also apply to do community service instead of a fine. You may have to do community service if you’re sentenced to one of these orders:
- Community Service Order
- Fine Option Order
- Work and Development Order
- Graffiti Removal Order
- Intensive Correction Order
General requirements for offenders doing community service
- Report in person to the Probation and Parole District Office as stated on their order
- Do community service work in a satisfactory way as directed
- Report to and receive visits from a Probation and Parole officer as directed
- Follow all reasonable directions from their supervising officer
- Advise their supervising officer of any changes to employment or address
- Finish community service hours within the timeframe noted on the order.
What type of supervision is provided to offenders doing community service?
- Training (including workplace health and safety training)
- Making sure the offender is able to complete community service (including a check of any physical or mental health issues which could cause problems with doing the work)
- Checking requirements of the order are fulfilled.
How much time do offenders have to complete the order?
Generally, community service hours must be completed within 12 months. If the hours are not completed within the timeframe then extra time can be requested through the courts with a good reason.
What sort of work do you do on community service?
Community service projects are run by local groups, such as nursing homes, councils and sporting clubs. You may work inside or outside. You can ask to be placed at a project, but you do not have the right to choose where you will work. As much as possible, your community service will be organised so that it does not interfere with your work, education, religious or family commitments.
Getting to the work site
You will usually need to find your own way to and from the work site. Supervising officers will try to find a project within reasonable travelling distance from your home.
What about meals?
You must bring your own food to the work site. The on-site supervisor will allow you time for morning and afternoon breaks and lunch. Meal breaks will not be recognised as work unless you work at least six hours during the session. You must not leave the work site without permission from the on-site supervisor.
What if you can’t attend or break the rules?
If you fail to obey the order you are sentenced to without reasonable excuse, you may be returned to court for action. The court may give you a warning, fine you for breaking the rules or cancel the order and re-sentence you for the original crime.
A Probation and Parole officer will check your progress with community service and take action if you don’t follow the conditions of your order. An on-site supervisor will also check your progress at the project. If you are unable to go to community service you must tell the district office as soon as possible on the day you will be absent. You are also required to let your on-site supervisor know that you will be away.
If you are sick, you must provide an original medical certificate, dated on the day of your absence. The certificate must state the period of time you are unfit for work.
If you can’t go to community service because of paid work, you may need to provide proof, such as a letter from your employer or a payslip.
Having problems doing the work
Probation and Parole officers are there to help you complete the order. You should tell your officer about any problem you have that affects your reporting or the way you perform community service work. You can then work with your officer to overcome these problems.
What if you move to another address in Queensland?
You may move anywhere in Queensland, however, you must tell your supervising officer of any change of address or employment within 2 business days of the move. You should talk to your officer before moving so that arrangements can be made to transfer your supervision.
What if you want to leave Queensland?
You must get written permission to leave Queensland, even for a short visit. If you go without permission, you will breaking the rules of your order and may be taken back to court. You cannot do your community service outside Queensland.
Community Service Order
A community service order is made under the Penalties and Sentences Act 1992 (Qld) s100-108 which can be:
- Between 40 hours and 240 hours
- Given in addition to a probation order.
The court may or may not record a conviction for a community service order.
Fine Option Order
A Fine Option Order allows you to do community service instead of paying a fine. The fine is changed to community service, usually at a rate of $22 per hour. You must be able to show that you can’t pay the fine and that you are a suitable person to do community service.
To apply for a Fine Option Order contact the relevant magistrates court.
Work and Development Order
If your debt has been registered with the State Penalties Enforcement Registry (SPER), you can apply for a work and development order to convert the debt to unpaid community work.
To apply for a work and development order, phone SPER on 1300 365 635.
Graffiti Removal Order
An offender sentenced to a Graffiti Removal Order will be required to perform unpaid graffiti removal, in partnership with local organisations or councils for the number of hours stated on the order.
Intensive Correction Order
If you’ve been sentenced to an Intensive Correction Order, you will be required to complete up to 12 hours of community service and/or programs each week.
If you fail or refuse to attend community service and/ or programs as directed without a reasonable excuse, you could be returned to court. This may result in your order being cancelled altogether and you may have to serve the remainder of your sentence in prison or you may be re-sentenced and receive a new penalty.