The Dealing with Fines project was established in 2022 as a result of COVID. Walgett community members received the highest rates of COVID fines in NSW, and a COVID-related underspend enabled the employment of the Dealing with Fines team at the DEG. It has emerged as an exemplar of Yuwaya Ngarrali's strategy and strengths. It combines three key roles that Dharriwaa Elders Group and Yuwaya Ngarrali can effectively play: direct support to community members; collaborating with and building capability of both ACCOs and mainstream agencies; and advocacy and public engagement grounded in research.  

In its first year of operation, 94 people in Walgett were supported to have their fines written off or to participate in WDO activities to clear their fines, amounting to the reduction of $178,112 worth of fine debt while enabling people to access mental health and drug and alcohol treatment and support at WAMS, and to grow skills and contribute positively to their community. These outcomes have been achieved through a strong community-led team at the DEG, along with expert support from Peta MacGillivray, the Aboriginal Legal Service Civil Law team, and Legal Aid NSW. Sustained advocacy by DEG and YN and analysis of fines and policing data has helped draw attention to how fine debt locks people out of education and employment and increases criminalisation. Our advocacy also contributed to systemic efforts to have COVID fines withdrawn.