Alcohol & the law
It is now against Victorian law to serve alcohol in a private home to anyone under 18, unless their parents have given permission.
Adults who break the law face fines over $7,000 - the same amount a licensee would be fined for selling alcohol to a minor.
The law is part of the Liquor Control Reform Act 1998 (the LCRA), which also regulates the sale of alcohol in all licensed premises such as bottle shops, pubs and clubs to people under 18.
There have always been laws about minors and alcohol. The LCRA prohibits the supply of alcohol to minors in most circumstances. Minors are also prohibited from possessing and consuming liquor in most circumstances. Supply to minors in a private home has been an exception to these rules, but this was changed in 2011.
For more information on the rules about alcohol and minors, go to www.vcglr.vic.gov.au
Why does this law exist?
The law governing the supply of alcohol to minors in private homes is designed to give parents greater control over when, where and whether their children drink alcohol.
It also responds directly to community concerns about the substantial harm that alcohol causes to young Victorians and their families every year.
In fact, a 2009 VicHealth survey revealed 87 per cent of Victorians support the new law, and parents were even more likely to agree with the law (91 per cent).
This law is just one of a number of policy and legislative initiatives being introduced by the Victorian Government designed to reduce harmful alcohol consumption in Victoria.
How will this law be enforced?
The law will be enforced where the police have evidence that it has been broken. It's important to remember that the laws about minors and alcohol are complicated. Often, situations in which the laws may have been broken are emotional and tense, such as after a minor has been injured as a result of alcohol consumption. If you're not sure in a situation where minors and alcohol are involved, it's best to steer clear of any possible wrongdoing.
Getting parents' permission
Anyone who plans to supply alcohol to a minor in their home will need to get permission from the young person's parent or legal guardian.
Permission can be given verbally or in writing - but the person who will supply the alcohol needs to be very confident that they have the permission they need from the parent responsible. This is because if there is a question about whether permission had been given, the person who supplied the alcohol will need to prove that they had permission.
And even if you have permission from parents to supply alcohol, it's important to remember that if you don't serve alcohol responsibly, you may be breaking other laws and breaching your duty of care.
Serving alcohol to your own children
The law still allows parents to serve alcohol to their own underage children in a private home.
However, we'd encourage you to read the rest of this site - especially the sections on the harm that alcohol can cause, and how to reduce risk and harm to your child.
Alcohol consumption outside of a private home
It is illegal for a person under the age of 18 to be found in possession of, or drinking alcohol in a public place or to be found entering and remaining on a premises that supplies alcohol. People under the age of 18 are only permitted in a licensed premises if they are:
- attending an underage function approved by the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation
- with a responsible adult who is over 18 years
- residing at the licensed premises
- engaged in a training program in hospitality or training for the purposes of employment or work experience or
- unaccompanied, in a licensed restaurant during ordinary trading hours (7am to 11pm).
If a person under the age of 18 is found to be breaking any of the laws outlined above, they can be fined in excess of $500.If a licensee supplies alcohol to a person under the age of 18, they can be fined in excess of $6000. If an adult supplies alcohol to a person under the age of 18, they can be fined in excess of $6000.