New laws to strengthen Western Australia’s Banned Drinkers Register (BDR) have been passed through Parliament to improve its effectiveness in reducing alcohol-related harm.

The BDR was first introduced in the Pilbara region in December 2020, and has since been rolled out across the Kimberley, Goldfields, and more recently in Carnarvon and the Gascoyne Junction.

Under the BDR, licensees and their staff must scan the ID of a customer before the purchase of takeaway alcohol, if no ID is presented, no transaction can be made by the outlet.

The register targets individuals impacted by alcohol and restricts their access to takeaway alcohol by alerting sellers when they scan the customer’s identification.

Changes to the Liquor Control Amendment (Banned Drinkers Register) Bill 2023, which were passed yesterday, and are due to come into effect in December, require online liquor retailers to check the register before going ahead with any sale of takeaway alcohol to banned drinker areas.

The legislation allows police to register individuals for alcohol-related offences, including alcohol-related violence and drink driving, not just in or near licensed premises. Health professionals and social workers can also refer individuals.

It will also be an offence to knowingly supply takeaway alcohol to banned individuals, attracting fines of up to $10k. Police are getting powers to seize or dispose of liquor in the possession of someone on the register.

The Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries will continue to engage with key stakeholders.

Reece Whitby, WA’s Racing and Gaming Minister, said that while alcohol-related harm is a long-standing issue, he is sure that the reforms to the BDR are going to improve its effectiveness.

“This new law puts in place a clear legislative framework to support the work being done by our regional communities to reduce the harmful impacts of alcohol misuse,” he said.

“These measures benefit the community by acting as a circuit breaker to anti-social behaviour, reducing pressure on frontline staff and the broader community.”

Industry stakeholders have welcomed the amendments, saying that it is a positive move for communities across the state.

Peter Peck, CEO of the Liquor Stores Association of Western Australia (LSA WA), expects the timing of the legislation to be an effective tool against alcohol abuse in many regional communities ahead of the Christmas holiday season.

“It means the potential of domestic violence cases linked to alcohol abuse can be reduced. As a result, families and victims should feel safer,” he said.

Bradley Woods, CEO of the Australian Hotels Association of WA (AHA WA), said the passage of the legislation will ensure the BDR is far more effective.

“The AHA has supported the BDR for almost two decades and those licensees tasked with implementing it each day will warmly welcome improvements that will enhance it.

“These legislated improvements will see more known problem drinkers placed on the register, preventing them from accessing alcohol and inflicting harm on themselves, their family members, and their community.

“The AHA commends the work of the WA Government, in particular Racing and Gaming Minister Reece Whitby MLA, and thanks the Department of Racing and Gaming, for their work in securing these important enhancements.”

Michael Waters, CEO, Retail Drinks Australia, also welcomed the reforms to the BDR, which he says is an effective and robust way of targeting alcohol related harm in WA.

“We have previously worked in close consultation with the WA Government on these reforms, particularly during the stakeholder consultation process,” he said.

“We look forward to further engagement with the WA Government on the implementation of the reforms to ensure that this occurs in a sensible and practical manner for retailers and online alcohol sale and delivery providers.”

Deborah Jackson

Deb joined Intermedia in 2015 as Editor of National Liquor News and Deputy Editor of The Shout. Since then, she has also worked as the Editor of Beer & Brewer and the New Zealand title, World of Wine....

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