Liquor licensing authorities throughout the country have asked licensed venues to ensure responsible service of alcohol during Orientation Week celebrations this February.
Liquor & Gaming NSW Executive Director Regulatory Operations, Jane Lin, said that the on-premise plays an integral role in O-Week celebrations.
“Venues have an important role to play in helping young people, who may be new to socialising on licensed premises and living away from home, to do so safely. The majority of licensed venues take their responsibilities seriously, and with their support, we hope that this year’s O-Week celebrations will be a fun, safe time for everyone,” she said.
Liquor & Gaming NSW will be monitoring responsible service of alcohol practices during O-Week celebrations through inspections and surveying liquor promotions in venues and online. Last year, Liquor & Gaming NSW saw potentially irresponsible liquor promotions during O-Week, including a Newtown pub that offered heavily discounted drinks to local university students.
In the past 12 months, Liquor & Gaming NSW has instructed venues to withdraw or amend potentially irresponsible alcohol promotions at venues, including a hotel in Cessnock encouraging patrons to ‘Beat the Clock’ by offering discounted vodka-based drinks for short time-periods late in the trading period and a hotel in Petersham offering heavily discounted drinks from 9pm to 3am every Saturday.
Liquor Control Victoria will also be conducting compliance checks throughout O-Week, with Danielle Huntersmith, Chair of the Victorian Liquor Commission, stating that liquor compliance is a shared responsibility.
“I call on all involved in O-Week to ensure that any alcohol consumption or promotion does not facilitate risky drinking. Inspectors will have a particular focus on drink spiking, underage drinking, irresponsible promotion of liquor and the sale and supply of alcohol to intoxicated people,” she said.
In Queensland, the Office of Liquor Gaming Regulation (OLGR) will be conducting compliance checks with a focus on under 18s in licensed premises. In addition, the OLGR advises venues not to offer promotions that encourage rapid or excessive consumption of alcohol, as these may attract fines or other enforcement action.
“We want to ensure that venues keep patron safety in mind during O-Week festivities. Patrons are asked to look after themselves and their friends in and around venues and be wary of drink or needle spiking when out celebrating. The OLGR teamed up with QMusic and Griffith University’s MATE Bystander program to create videos to give licensees and their staff tactics so they can safely and respectfully intervene when they see patrons being sexually harassed,” a Department of Justice spokesperson said.
Consumer and Business Services South Australia reminds operators to ensure sufficient staffing, refuse service to intoxicated people, and provide free cool drinking water and reasonably priced non-alcoholic drinks.
“Historically, there have been a minimal amount of O-Week related complaints. Regardless of the time of year, CBS reminds SA licensees of their responsible service of alcohol obligations,” a spokesperson said.
The ACT government is focusing on alcohol related violence and antisocial behaviour.
“The ACT Government is focused on supporting harm minimisation and community safety throughout the year by ensuring licensed venues adhere to their obligations under the Liquor Act. The supply of alcohol to intoxicated people contributes to anti-social and alcohol-related violent behaviours that place our community at risk of harm. Access Canberra conducts regular inspections of venues with a liquor licence or permit in line with its Liquor Licensing compliance framework as part of its ongoing compliance program,” an Access Canberra spokesperson said.
The Shout has reached out to other state and territory regulators for comment on their actions during O-Week.
DrinkWise will also continue to run the O-Week Survival Tips campaign this year, which features tips for students to drink responsibly. The geo-targeted campaign will be distributed across Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram platforms.