Community Service Order (CSO)

The court can chose to order the offender to undertake community service work as an alternative to imprisonment. The court will specify how many hours of community service work the offender must undertake, but this will not exceed 500 hours. There can be concurrent and cumulative  CSOs but the total hours cannot exceed 500 hours.

Community service work is defined by the Act as "any service or activity approved by the Minister, and includes participation in personal development, educational or other programs."

In order for the court to be able to order a Community Service Order, it must be satisfied:

  1. The offender is a suitable person for community service work;
  2. It is appropriate in all of the circumstances that the offender be required to perform community service work;
  3. The arrangements exist in the area in which the offender resides or intends to reside for the offender to perform community service work; and
  4. The community service work can be provided in accordance with those arrangements.

The offender will also have to undergo an assessment to ascertain their suitability.

There are a number of standard conditions that apply to CSOs. The court may also specify other conditions that the offender must comply with. The standard conditions include the following:   

(a) As soon as practicable after the CSO is made the offender must report to the office where they are to do the work;

(b) The offender must not report for, or perform the community service work under the influence of drugs or alcohol;

(c) The offender must participate in any activities connected with the administration of the order in which the offender is   directed by the assigned officer or supervisor to participate;

(d) The offender must perform community service work in accordance with the directions of, and to the standard specified by the assigned officer or supervisor;

(e) The offender must provide their assigned officer with written notice of the reasons for any failure by the offender to report to a work site or attendance site in accordance with their obligations;

(f) The offender must submit to a medical examination by a medical practitioner nominated by their assigned officer if at any time the assigned officer so directs;

(g) The offender must receive visits at the offender's home within reasonable hours by the assigned officer or supervisor for any purpose connected with the administration of the order;

(h) The offender must comply with such standards of dress, cleanliness and conduct as the assigned officer or supervisor may from time to time determine;

(i) The offender must keep in good order and condition such clothing and equipment as may be issued to the offender for the purpose of performing community service work;

(j) The offender must observe such standards of safety with respect to their performance of community service work as the assigned officer or supervisor may from time to time determine;

(k) The offender must sign and attendance register on arrival at, and on departure from any work site or attendance site;

(l) The offender must not damage or deface property that is on, or forms part of, or work site or attendance site, otherwise than in the court of performing community service work in accordance with the directions of the assigned officer or supervisor;

(m) The offender must not have possession of or consume any alcohol or other intoxicating substance while at a work site or attendance site;

(n) The offender must comply with any reasonable direction given orally or in writing to the offender by the assigned officer or supervisor;

(o) If the offender is directed to do anything that they are incapable of doing, the offender must immediately advise the assigned officer or supervisor of that fact;

(p) If illness or injury is the reason for an offender's failure to report, written notice must be given along with a medical certificate issued by a medical practitioner, stating the nature of the illness or injury and indicating that its nature or extent is such as to justify the offender's failure to report.

A CSO can be revoked. An application to revoke a CSO can be made by the offender or the offender's assigned officer, on the ground that it would be in the interests of justice to revoke a CSO. This will require a consideration of the circumstances that have arisen since the CSO was made.

An application to revoke a CSO can also be made on the ground that the offender has failed to comply with the CSO without reasonable excuse. Failing to comply includes a failure to perform the required number of hours of community service work within the relevant maximum period.

If there is revocation, the court will then put in place a different kind of penalty. In determining which penalty, the court can (if it considers appropriate to do so) deal with the offender in any manner in which it could have dealt with the offender had the order not been made. The offender is dealt with for the original offence, not for the failure to carry out the CSO. The court will re-exercise their power to penalise the offender for the offence committed, taking into account that a CSO would not be suitable.