The Western Australia State Government has announced the trial of a Banner Drinkers Register (BDR) in the Pilbara region will launch on December 1, 2020.

The government has now appointed WA company Scantek to supply and support the trial, which will determine the concept’s effectiveness in limiting alcohol-related harm by ensuring problem drinkers are not able to purchase takeaway liquor.

The BDR technology will scan a shopper’s ID to determine if they are a banned drinker on the register, and immediately alert staff if they are. Personal information on the register will remain confidential and no records will be kept by licensees, including their purchase history or whether they are refused a purchase.

Banned drinkers on the register will be directed to community services where they can access relevant support programs and initiatives. This also will help people who want to voluntarily remove their access to takeaway alcohol, who can elect to be placed on the BDR.

The Liquor Stores Association of Western Australia (LSA WA) and the Australian Hotels Association (AHA WA) have led the ‘game changing’ project, which was given the green light by the Government in February, when a tender was set for a company to support the trial.

Now that Scantek has been selected to provide the technology for the concept, the trial has been given a start date.  The expected two year trial will also be evaluated by the University of Western Australia (UWA) Public Policy Institute, which will assist in measuring the BDR’s effectiveness.

LSA WA and AHA WA have welcomed this news, commending the government for collaborating with the industry on an effective, targeted approach to the complex issue.

Brent Rudler, LSA WA board Treasurer and Chair of the Hedland Liquor Strategy said: “This isn’t just about identifying problem drinkers, it’s making sure they get the help and counselling they need. It’s not just a liquor industry issue that we’re dealing with. This impacts on the community, from Port Hedland to Karratha and out to Newman.”

“This is a community issue and given we are part of the community we have a role to play and we are willing to embrace the opportunity to ensure our community across the board is safer.”

Bradley Woods, AHA WA CEO, echoed this commitment to the BDR trial, and said it was an important milestone in the fight to address problem drinking and its associated damage.

“The announced trial of the BDR in the Pilbara represents a major step in the right direction towards a targeted, effective policy that focuses attention and resources on those that most need help when it comes to problem drinking,” Woods said.

“The AHA has long advocated for Government’s to pursue policies that target individuals rather than impose blanket liquor restrictions on entire communities – the BDR represents that targeted solution.”

Racing and Gaming Minister, Paul Papalia agreed that it was a move towards a wider solution to benefit communities and stakeholders across the whole of WA.

“While it is widely acknowledged that the issues around alcohol misuse are incredibly complex and cannot be resolved by a single solution, the BDR trial will add to our understanding of how best to mitigate these kinds of destructive behaviours,” Papalia said.

“The BDR trial and UWA evaluation will investigate the efficacy of this approach, with a view to gaining a better understanding of whether BDRs should be used more widely around the State.”

Member for Pilbara, Kevin Michel, said an important element to the initiative is that banned drinkers will be directed to community services where they can access support, which has the potential to create deeper positive change.

“This trial will add to our body of knowledge around the best ways to deal with damaging behaviour related to alcohol, to ensure we provide help to those experiencing problems with alcohol and protect our community’s most vulnerable,” Michel said.

The department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries will soon commence extensive consultations with key stakeholders like retailers, but Minister Papalia thanked the industry, namely the LSA WA and AHA WA for their continued support and work on the project.

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.

Brydie Allen

Brydie Allen is the Editor of National Liquor News. She has been with Food and Beverage Media since 2019, when she joined the company as a journalist across National Liquor News, Bars & Clubs, The...

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