DUBBO Local Court Magistrate Andrew Eckhold has expressed concern about the welfare of a 12-year-old boy being dragged from place to place by a "couch surfing" mother unable to secure stable accommodation.
The 41-year-old mother was on her own with the boy because her partner was in a rehabilitation centre. The woman, who cannot be named to protect the identity of the child, was brought before the court on charges of failing to pay for accommodation at a Dubbo hotel.
"It's not the first time you have done this,''' Magistrate Eckhold said. "You spent a night in custody for an offence that carries a $55 fine. Something must be very wrong with the welfare system or your management of it.''
A solicitor said the mother of the woman's partner had been supposed to pay the $173 bill for motel accommodation and meals.
"It is very difficult to find somewhere to live when you are struggling on welfare payments,'' the solicitor said.
"There is a long Department of Housing waiting list and she is trying to get enough references together to obtain private accommodation.
"My client has been forced into couch surfing, moving from place to place when and where she can find people willing to provide assistance. She is out there on her own trying to find work but it is not easy to get a job without stable accommodation.''
The woman was convicted and ordered to pay $83 court costs and $173.90 compensation to a Dubbo motel. No further penalty was imposed.
Magistrate Eckhold urged the woman not to re-offend.
"Stay out of trouble,'' he said.