Underage drinking addressed in Victorian Liquor Act changes

22 May, 2018 by
Vanessa Cavasinni

As part of the Liquor and Gambling Legislation Amendment Bill 2018, the Victorian Government expects to close a loophole that allows minors to drink on licensed premises with parental permission.

A current provision in the state’s Liquor Act allows parents to purchase an alcoholic beverage for teenagers on licensed premises when it is to be consumed with a meal. A recommendation from the Australian Hotels Association Victoria (AHA Vic) will see the new bill remove the provision entirely.

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“That provision has been around for some time, however as a general rule publicans in Victoria do not encourage anyone under age to consume [alcohol], notwithstanding that there is the provision within the Act. So we recommended that that provision be abolished, as it is a bit of a loophole, and our house policies in pub venues often stipulate that under no circumstances will minors be served liquor,” says AHA Vic CEO, Paddy O’Sullivan.

While hardly any adults try to purchase drinks for their children in pubs, O’Sullivan said removing the antiquated provision would clear up any uncertainty and reflect current attitudes towards alcohol consumption by minors.

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“As a general rule publicans do not allow that to happen. It’s not the look you want – it doesn’t reflect community attitudes, it’s not appropriate. So notwithstanding what’s in the law, publicans have set their own rules in that regard and now the law is just catching up to the rules that the pubs themselves have set.”

Red tape reduction

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The other major inclusion in the Bill that the AHA pushed for is the reduction of bureaucratic red tape. The main component of that is to do away with the requirement of venues to keep an RSA register, in addition to having all of their staff’s RSA and refresher certificates on hand.

“We’ve made a case that RSA certificates and refresher certificates should be maintained without the need for a separate document, being a register of all those other certificates,” stated O’Sullivan.

“In the past we’ve noted that the number one non-compliance issue in Victorian liquor law is the failure of a venue to maintain a fully completed RSA register, whereas the venue would have RSA and refresher certificates for all of the staff anyway.”

The Bill, including both amendments, has passed the Lower House of Victorian Parliament and is expected to be passed by the Upper House later this week.

Image credit: Timeout