This article was written by Sally Crosswell

Sally Crosswell has a Bachelor of Laws (Hons), a Bachelor of Communication and a Master of International and Community Development. She also completed a Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice at the College of Law. A former journalist, Sally has a keen interest in human rights law.

Define probation (WA)


Probation is a sentencing option commonly used by courts in Western Australia for adult offenders.

How do you define probation?

Probation involves supervision of offenders in the community by Corrective Services, combined with rehabilitation programs.

It is considered when an offender is facing prison but would benefit instead from supervised rehabilitation in the community.

In deciding whether probation is appropriate, a court considers the circumstances of the offence and the characteristics of the offender.

Probation reflects a welfare approach to criminal justice, where offending is often the result of social disadvantage, such as a lack of family or economic support.

Why probation?

The rationale for probation is that it:

  • promotes rehabilitation by helping an offender to maintain normal social contacts and fulfil social obligations such as employment;
  • allows an offender to take part in programs to prevent re-offending, such as restorative justice, drug treatment, anger management, or community service;
  • avoids the negative impacts of imprisonment;
  • costs less than imprisonment; and
  • minimises the impact of a conviction on an offender and their family.

Types of probation orders

The Sentencing Act 1995 allows a range of non-custodial options, including a Pre-sentence Order, Community-based Order, Intensive Supervision Order or Conditional Suspended Imprisonment Order. Each order is typically made up of supervision, intervention and community work.

Pre-sentence Order

This probation order can be imposed for up to two years, but only if the offence carries an immediate term of imprisonment.

Community work is not available under this order, but it can include requirements for supervision, a curfew and program attendance. The offender is required to reappear in court regularly in order to monitor compliance with the order.

Community-based Order

This probation order must be for at least 6 months and no longer than two years. Standard conditions of the order are that the offender:

  • must report to a community corrections centre within 72 hours of being released by the court or as otherwise directed by a Corrective Services officer;
  • must notify the officer of a change of address or employment within 2 working days;
  • must not leave Western Australia without permission;
  • must comply with section 76 of the Sentence Administration Act 2003.

This section states an offender:

  • must perform community work as directed and satisfactorily;
  • must not possess, use or be under the influence or alcohol or drugs or other substances;
  • must submit to testing for substances if directed;
  • must not disturb or interfere with another offender carrying out duties under a community-based order;
  • must not commit any act of insubordination or misconduct that negatively affects the good order or management of a centre or conduct under a community-based order;
  • must not assault, threaten, insult or use abusive language to a member of departmental staff;
  • must comply with all obligations and conditions.

Under s76(5), a Corrective Services officer must ensure, as far as practicable, that the order’s requirements do not:

  • conflict with an offender’s religious or cultural beliefs;
  • interfere with times when an offender works or attends study or training.

If the order is breached or an offence committed during the term of the order, the Corrective Services officer will prepare a “breach report” and the case will return to court. The offender may be resentenced for the original offences, and the further offences will be dealt with.

If the term of the order ends with no breaches, the sentence is completed. A court may determine a “spent conviction” order is appropriate, where no conviction is recorded. Otherwise a conviction will be recorded.

Intensive Supervision Order

This probation order has more stringent conditions than a community-based order, and a conviction is recorded.

The offender must attend a program designed to curb criminal behaviour, such as a treatment program for substance abuse or an educational, vocational or personal development program.

The offender may be ordered to perform between 40 and 240 hours of unpaid community work, at a rate of least 12 hours a week. The work must be done with an approved non-profit agency or project, or a local council.

A curfew can be imposed for up to six months to restrict the offender’s movements during periods when there is a high risk of them re-offending. The curfew can apply for between two and 12 hours a day, and an offender can be subject to electronic monitoring.

The standard conditions of the order are the same as those for a community-based rrder.

Conditional Suspended Imprisonment Order

This probation order is the highest supervised order available as a sentencing option. A prison term of up to five years can be suspended for up to two years with conditions.

The offender is supervised and regular counselling is provided to them. A Corrective Services officer will determine the frequency of reporting. The offender must attend a program designed to curb criminal behaviour, such as a treatment program for substance abuse or an educational, vocational or personal development program.

A curfew can be imposed for up to six months to restrict the offender’s movements during periods when there is a high risk of them re-offending. The curfew can apply for between two and 12 hours a day, and an offender can be subject to electronic monitoring.

If the offender breaches the order, the matter returns to court and the offender is re-sentenced.

For advice on any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.

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If you suspect that you may be under investigation, or if you have been charged with an offence, it is vital to get competent legal advice as early as possible. Our lawyers are highly specialised in criminal law and will be able to guide you through the process while dealing with the various authorities related to your matter.

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