Legislation to overhaul Western Australia's much-criticised unpaid fines regime has passed state parliament, which advocates say will reduce the number of Aboriginal people in prison.
The changes were sparked by an inquest into the death of Yamatji woman Ms Dhu, who was locked up at South Hedland Police Station in 2014 for $3622 in unpaid fines.
The 22-year-old had been unwell and died in hospital two days after her arrest. A coroner ruled she had been treated inhumanely.
Under the new legislation, fine defaulters will no longer be immediately taken into custody and warrants for imprisonment can only be issued by a magistrate under strict circumstances.
Garnishee orders will also allow money to be taken from a fine defaulter's bank account and salary.
Hardship provisions such as mental illness, disability, drug and alcohol problems, domestic violence and homelessness will be taken into account.
The law will also introduce a "work and development permit" scheme, and prevent licence suspensions in remote areas.
The change is long overdue in WA, which is the last remaining state to lock up fine defaulters at a cost of about $2.8 million a year.
Upper house leader Sue Ellery told MPs during Tuesday's debate there were currently 1300 outstanding warrants involving 300 fine defaulters.
Those warrants will be cancelled the day after the new laws come into effect.
Attorney General John Quigley said imprisonment remained an option for people who "thumb their noses at the system".
"However, there are people in our community who are experiencing genuine hardship ... they should not be further entrenched in poverty or forced into prison," he said on Wednesday.
Aboriginal Legal Service of WA chief executive Dennis Eggington said the amendments would help reduce the fracturing of Aboriginal families and even loss of life.
"Unpaid fines should not be a death sentence," he said.
"There is no doubt that jailing people for unpaid fines disproportionately affected Aboriginal people.
"It had a devastating and fracturing effect on children, families and communities, and exacerbated the over-representation of Aboriginal people, particularly women in the justice system, by criminalising the effects of racism, poverty and disadvantage."
National Suicide Prevention and Trauma Recovery Project coordinator Gerry Georgatos said it had taken "relentless brokering" to reform the legislation.
"Hopefully, it will not take years for the establishment of income assessed and sized fines," he said.
Australian Associated Press