Will the change of government in Victoria mean some good news on the alcohol front?
Sarah Jaggard, Community Mobilisation Policy Officer of the Australian Drug Foundation, has written previously at Croakey about Victoria’s laggardly tendencies when it comes to enacting legislation targeting the the secondary supply of alcohol to minors.
(Under such laws, an adult must not supply alcohol to a young person at a private place unless the adult is a parent or guardian or has specific permission of a parent or guardian of that young person. As well, the adult must supply alcohol in responsible manner and ensure that it is consumed safely.)
But Jaggard says there are signs of a sea change on this issue in Victoria.
Sarah Jaggard writes:
It’s almost the end of the year and I’m going to talk about secondary supply one last time if it kills me. And you can breathe a hopeful sigh of relief – as can I – because my days of pontificating about it may well be drawing to a close.
Last month, the Coalition released The Victorian Liberal/National Coalition Plan for Liquor Licensing (which for some reason has since disappeared from their website).
And on page 11, in betwixt all the policies on licensing, there it is. A pledge to introduce secondary supply legislation:
“Under current Victorian law, at a party or in someone’s home anyone can supply alcohol to a child. The Liberal/National Coalition believes that parents know what’s best for their children, and that parents alone should be able to make choices about their child’s alcohol consumption. Banning the supply of alcohol to minors without parental consent will assist in reducing the consumption of alcohol by people aged under 18. The law is already in place in NSW, Queensland and Tasmania and it is time for it to be adopted in Victoria.”
Rumour has it that the Coalition is looking at adopting the NSW model, whereby a person cannot sell or supply liquor to a person under the age of 18 years in a licensed premises or any other place. A parent, guardian and spouse of a minor is exempted from prosecution. A person convicted of the offence is liable for a penalty of up to $6000.
Research suggests that once the law is implemented, it has to be effectively communicated before it can have a deterrent effect. The policy has been in place for over twenty years in NSW, and it’s still unclear as to whether the public is well informed of the restriction.
It’s crucial that the introduction of this legislation is accompanied by a comprehensive communication and education campaign targeting parents and teenagers. More importantly, the impact of the introduction of the legislation needs to be closely evaluated and monitored to identify its effectiveness, any unintended consequences and any amendments required.
So after a solid year of whinging by me (and a good ten years of squeaking by others), secondary supply is well and truly on the agenda.
All it took was a change in Government.