After announcing plans for the expansion and strengthening of the Banned Drinkers Register (BDR) earlier this year, the Western Australian Government has now confirmed the trial has rolled out in a new region.
The Government announced the BDR trial was now up and running in the Carnarvon and Gascoyne Junction region earlier this week.
The trial aims to reduce alcohol-related harm by restricting problem drinkers from accessing takeaway alcohol. Under the scheme, anyone buying takeaway alcohol must have their ID scanned against the BDR at the point of sale, with the scanner notifying staff if the customer is on the register.
Racing and Gaming Minister, Reece Whitby, said the latest move was another targeted response to problem drinking.
“Alcohol-related harm is a long-standing, complex issue. There is no easy fix. The Banned Drinkers Register will not be a cure all but I’m confident it will help address alcohol-related violence and anti-social behaviour in Carnarvon,” he said.
“We’re rolling out a campaign to ensure Western Australians are aware of how the register works and what identification is required when buying takeaway alcohol.
“Our Government is committed to working with local industry, WA Police and the community to reduce alcohol-related harm in the region.”
The liquor industry has long been a supporter of the BDR initiative trial, since before its launch in WA in 2020. It has again supported the decision to expand the trial into a new area of need.
Retail Drinks CEO, Michael Waters, said: “Retail Drinks has long supported the use of a Banned Drinker Register (BDR) as a targeted, localised policy measure to help minimise levels of alcohol-related harm and problem drinking.
“When considering the expansion of the BDR to other new regions, we’d urge the WA Government to engage and collaborate with all relevant industry stakeholders to ensure that the BDR is implemented in areas where it can be most effective in addressing local issues.
“We look forward to continuing our dialogue with the WA Government on the BDR, particularly as legislation proposing significant BDR reforms is currently before the WA Parliament.”
Liquor Stores Association of WA CEO, Peter Peck, said this expansion was a positive for liquor retailers, as it gave them the opportunity to demonstrate that issues of alcohol-related harm in the Carnarvon region were stemming from other forces.
“We are extremely happy with this news, because now we are going to be generating data for the Government through the BDR system, which will prove that the alcohol-related dysfunction in the town isn’t coming from off-premise retailers,” Peck said.
“Hopefully that will mean there will be a greater focus on sly grogging. And also, with this spotlight on Carnarvon, it will not only look at liquor retailers but put a greater focus on other Government departments, like child protection, which can better step up to the mark [to address issues in the area].”
Earlier this year, the WA Director of Liquor Licensing announced new liquor restrictions in Carnarvon which came into effect in early May. These restrictions limited the amount of alcohol that can be purchased by a customer in one day, and also the timing of when takeaway alcohol could be sold, banning it on Sunday and Monday and only allowing it between 12pm and 7pm on other days.
The BDR trial in Carnarvon will also support these regional restrictions by monitoring sales using the Takeaway Alcohol Management System, stopping customers from shopping around to buy alcohol above the daily limits.
Legislation is currently on the table with the WA government, to strengthen the BDR trial around the state. Peck said it will be important to see the impact this strengthening can have, and where the initiative can be improved even further.