A NSW brother and sister, who both live with intellectual disabilities, have been left shaken after police issued them both $1000 fines because they went shopping together.
Wagga siblings Kevin Lamont, 32, and Karise Livingstone, 22, went to the shops together on Friday morning, where they were stopped by police and told they would each be fined $1000 for breaking the public health orders.
When their brother Nathan Lamont found out, he was frustrated and upset that the police did not exercise their discretion.
"When speaking to my siblings, it is not difficult to gauge that they have intellectual disabilities," he said.
Nathan said he understood police officers have an essential role in enforcing the public health orders but added that his siblings were not the people who should be targeted. He said it was a gross over-application of the public health orders, and they had lacked compassion.
"People need to place themselves in the shoes of those with disabilities even for a second to attempt at understanding and comprehending the challenges they face on a daily basis," Nathan said.
"Their cognitive impairment means they cannot always understand information when it is delivered to them, especially because the rules keep changing. They were not aware they could not shop together."
Nathan said he would be advocating for his two siblings and would attempt to have the fines revoked, adding any penalty would be an intense financial burden.
Riverina Disability Advocacy Service executive officer Martin Butcher said the quick changes to rules could be confusing for anyone.
"It is difficult for people with intellectual disabilities to know what the current rules are," he said. "Police need to use discretion and compassion, and you need to take into consideration disability when enforcing rules and the level of a person's capacity to understand the rules before handing out a fine."
A NSW Police spokesperson said that on Friday morning, officers stopped a vehicle on Gurwood Street for the purpose of random testing and saw three occupants.
Officers spoke to the occupants in the vehicle - a 31-year-old male driver, a 32-year-old man, and a 22-year-old woman - regarding their reasons for being away from home - which the two passengers did not provide a lawful excuse for.
The passengers were fined $1000 each, and the woman was issued a caution for not wearing a mask.
NSW Police did not respond to questions from The Daily Advertiser about whether officers are trained to assist members of the community that have intellectual disabilities.