The Liquor Stores Association of WA (LSAWA) is hosting a members’ forum and Sundowner networking event at the Flying Squadron Yacht Club on 14 March, with The Hon. Paul Papalia MLA confirmed to attend.

The event will be a useful experience for LSAWA members, as Peter Kapsanis, LSAWA Media and Government Relations Manager, told The Shout.

“The purpose of the forum is to bring together our members, to catch up, to network, but most importantly, to give them an opportunity to raise their concerns around the issues that matter most to their business,” he said.

As Minister for Police, Corrective Services, Racing and Gaming, Defence Industry and Veterans Issues, Papalia’s attendance will enable LSAWA members to have their say on government policies.

“It will be a year out from the state election so hopefully it’s an opportunity for the government to listen and for our members to influence and shape the future of the industry,” Kapsanis said.

Additionally, Papalia’s presence is evidence of the utility of LSAWA to its members.

“They can have their say, and that’s one of the value adds and the benefits of being a member of LSAWA because we do have strong government relationships. We do have that insight and that connection to the ears of government. It’s an opportunity to highlight that to our members.

“Not every industry gets an opportunity like this. We’re very fortunate. We’ve worked hard behind the scenes to build these strong relationships with the relevant ministers and government of the day. They realize and appreciate that our industry is an important part of the small business sector,” Kapsanis said.

With the various pressures affecting independent liquor store owners throughout the state, Kapsanis expects the concerns raised by member to be diverse.

“The issues will depend on what part of the state the store is operating from. For the Northwest and the Kimberley, we know it’s going to be around the liquor restrictions and Banned Drinkers Register. We know there will be other businesses that might have licensing issues, we know that some metropolitan stores will raise issues around theft.

“We know that other stores will raise issues about how to attract and retain staff, and there will be other members who will raise concerns about reducing harm in the community through offending and how they can collaborate with other stakeholders such as police and welfare officers,” he said.

After the forum, members will be able to mingle and network in a less formal setting at the Sundowner.

“This is our third Sundowner event in the last four years, and they’re proving to be quite popular, quite engaging. The feedback we’ve had is that members want this opportunity to network and catch up with corporates and other retailers, to discuss and swap ideas about issues and see how businesses are going in other parts of the state,” Kapsanis said.

Kapsanis is confident that the members’ forum and Sundowner will be a beneficial experience for LSAWA members.

“The purpose of this is for members to feel empowered, to make them feel that they’ve had their say, that they’ve raised the issues that matter to their business.

“My advice to members is that if they have issues that affect their business, if they really want the government of the day to listen, to take note, and to stand up, they need to come to this meeting. The government needs to hear their concerns,” he said.

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