Victorian licences changes come into effect

18 July, 2018 by Andy Young

On 5 June the Victorian Parliament passed the Liquor and Gambling Legislation Amendment Act (LGLA) 2018, which will mean a number of changes for liquor licensees, some of which begin today.

The LGLA amends the Liquor Control Reform Act 1998 and VCGLR said that it is the responsibility of licensees to ensure they understand their obligations under the LCR Act and to make any necessary arrangements to remain compliant.

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Today’s changes relate to maintaining an RSA register, the positioning of alcohol adverts, removal of unconsumed liquor from licensed premises and the effect of a licence to the amenity of an area.

In a factsheet about the changes the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR) said: “The amendments make a number of important changes to the LCR Act to address harm minimisation in the community and to reduce red tape for licensees.”

Specifically today’s changes relate to:

RSA Certificates:

Currently, holders of an on-premises, general, packaged liquor and late-night licence are required to establish and maintain a Responsible Service of Alcohol (RSA) program register under the LCR Act. From 18 July 2018, it will no longer be mandatory for licensees to establish and maintain an RSA register.

Licensees will still be required to retain a copy of the most up-to-date RSA certificate or report evidencing completion of an approved RSA program issued to any staff member involved in the sale and service of liquor.

Further, a licensee must still provide information to an authorised person on request, including the name of the responsible person at the licensed premises, the name of each person who is engaged in the sale and service of liquor and the date on which each person first sold or served liquor on the premises.

If a licensee holds any other licence containing a specific condition requiring it to keep an RSA program register, the licensee need only hold a copy of the most recent RSA certificate or other report evidencing completion of an approved RSA program.

Alcohol advertising:

From 18 July 2018, licensees are prohibited from displaying or causing to be displayed, static alcohol advertising within 150 metres of the perimeter of a school. This includes:

  • banners, hoardings, signs, images or rolling static displays
  • digital billboards and panels including moving or video images
  • moveable billboards and displays.

Alcohol advertising means any information, term, expression, symbol or other thing that gives publicity to, or otherwise promotes liquor. The prohibition on static alcohol advertising prohibition does not apply where the advertising is:

  • a logo, emblem or product name on a building occupied by a person conducting a business that is associated with liquor
  • alcohol advertising within a licensed premises or on an exterior of a licensed premises
  • alcohol advertising on clothing worn by a person
  • alcohol advertising at a sporting ground or a racecourse.

A two year transition period applies to advertising displayed under a contract entered into before 28 March 2018. This means that the static alcohol advertising prohibition does not apply to advertising displayed under an advertising contract entered into before 28 March 2018 for a period of two years from 28 March 2018. Any contracts entered into after 28 March 2018 will be subject to the prohibition.

Taking away unconsumed liquor from restaurants and cafes:

From 18 July 2018, a restaurant and cafe licensee may permit a person of or over the age of 18 years to take away from the licensed premises unconsumed liquor supplied in the course of a meal provided that:

  • the unconsumed liquor is taken away in the same resealable container in which it was supplied
  • no more than one resealable container of unconsumed liquor per person is taken away.

Amenity:

The amenity of an area is the quality an area has of being pleasant and agreeable. In determining whether the grant of a liquor licence application would detract from or be detrimental to the amenity of an area, the VCGLR may consider a range of factors under the LCR Act, including:

  • the presence or absence of parking facilities
  • traffic movement and density
  • noise levels.

From 18 July 2018, these factors are being repealed as it is intended that these matters are better determined as part of the planning process. This is intended to reduce unnecessary duplication between the liquor licence and planning processes.

Removing these factors is not intended to limit the VCGLR’s ability to grant a licence that has conditions relating to parking, traffic or noise levels on the basis of its consideration of amenity.

The LGLA will also see further changes for licensees from 13 September 2018 and from 1 March 2019, with full details available on the VCGLR website.