Banned Drinkers Register trial begins in the Pilbara

02 December, 2020 by Brydie Allen

The two-year trial period of the Banned Drinkers Register (BDR) in Western Australia’s Pilbara region has now begun, as of December 1. 

The initiative, which was spearheaded by the Liquor Stores Association of WA (LSA WA) and the Australian Hotels Association WA (AHA WA), was given the green light by the Government back in February 2020, with WA technology company Scantek appointed to support the project in August

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With the BDR now in place in the region, those living in or visiting the Pilbara will need to have their ID scanned when buying alcohol. The Scantek technology will show a green light if the sale can proceed or a red light if the customer cannot be sold alcohol due to their placement on the BDR, whether that be by way of police prohibition order or banning notice, or an individual voluntarily placing themselves on the register to remove their access to takeaway alcohol.

Banned drinkers will be directed to community services where they can access relevant support programs and initiatives. This element of the project has been widely commended in the lead up to the launch, as it not only removes access to alcohol, but also highlights resources that can support those in need to make long term positive changes. 

The BDR will be in place for two years, a period which will test its effectiveness in addressing alcohol-related harm. This evaluation is also supported by the University of Western Australia (UWA) Public Policy Institute, which will assist in measuring the BDR’s outcomes.

Both the industry and government welcomed the launch yesterday, which comes with a one month grace period to help people adjust. 

LSA WA CEO Peter Peck said the launch was a significant step forward for the industry and local community.

“As an industry we have been advocating and championing for this project over the past decade. This is not just an industry issue; it is a whole of community issue,” Peck said.

“We are excited that our members have signed up to this voluntary trial and are proud to be part of an initiative that will hopefully have a significant impact on crime in the wider community.

“The Police and our members who are independent liquor store owners have collaborated with police in Port Hedland since COVID-19 restrictions came into place and have produced some encouraging results that have shown a dramatic drop in police and ambulance call outs and assaults.

“We are confident the BDR can solidify that momentum and apply it across the region.”

AHA WA CEO Bradley Woods said that the rollout of the BDR shows the positive impact of collaborative approaches to policy.

“The BDR trial is the product of many years of work between industry, Government and the community and we hope this heralds the start of an era where policy in this space is targeted at those who require assistance as opposed to archaic, blanket restrictions that have proved ineffective and unwelcome,” Woods said.

“If the objective is to address social problems caused by those who have demonstrated an inability to drink responsibly, it is critical that we implement policies that targeted those individuals, prevent them from purchasing alcohol and provide them with the support they need.”

“The trial has the strong support of industry and we will continue to work closely with authorities throughout the trial to ensure it is successful, in the hope that it is expanded to other areas of the state.”

“We commend the work of the WA Government and in particular Minister Paul Papalia, who has understood the need to pursue targeted solutions and move away from area-wide restrictions that punish law-abiding community members.”

“We also thank the Liquor Stores Association for their collaboration in the lead up to the trial.”

Minister for Racing and Gaming Paul Papalia added: “This is the result of a lot of work overcoming many hurdles, and I am very pleased that the McGowan Government has found a way forward after extensive industry and community consultation.”

“The Banned Drinkers Register will make a significant difference to communities in the Pilbara and to the lives of individuals and their families.”

The launch has also been welcomed by a range of other local politicians, industry and community members, many of which note that the outcome of this trial could set a positive future for other similar projects across the entire state and country.

Header image, L-R: Hedland Liquor Strategy Chair Brent Rudler, Racing and Gambling Minister Paul Papalia and Member for Pilbara Kevin Michel at South Hedland Thirsty Camel.