The legal drinking age across Australia, including in Victoria, is 18 years of age. The Victorian Government has, for many years, provided strict rules and regulations in relation to liquor and persons under the age of 18. Licensees across Victoria are subject to these rules and regulations, with many unaware of the specific requirements associated with minors. During our time as both inspectors and consultants, we have seen many licensees become confused with the requirements associated with licensed venues and underage patrons.
First and foremost, it is generally an offence for any person to supply alcohol to a minor. In many circumstances, it is also an offence for a minor to be on licensed premises or to purchase, receive or consume alcohol. It is important for all licensees to be aware of their requirements.
WHEN ARE MINORS ALLOWED ON LICENSED PREMISES?
A person under the age of 18 is not permitted on a licensed premises unless there is a condition listed on the licence approved by the VCGLR, or if the minor is:
- In the company of a responsible adult;
- Having a meal;
- Reside on the premises (if accommodation is provided on site);
- Employed by the licensee but not involved in the supply of alcohol (other than the delivery of packaged liquor to a person over the age of 18, and that liquor is for consumption off the licensed premises);
- Completing a training program in hospitality;
- In attendance at a live music event, or other sanctioned event, which is subject to an approval from the VCGLR (alcohol free events).
Minors can also remain on a premises which has an On Premises Licence with restaurant conditions, or a Restaurant and Café Licence, and it is prior to 11pm.
ARE MINORS ALLOWED TO DRINK ALCOHOL ON LICENSED PREMISES?
The only circumstance where a minor can consume alcohol on a licensed venue is if they are consuming a meal AND are in the company of their Spouse, Parent or Legal Guardian. If this circumstance does occur in your venue, you need to remember that the supply of liquor to that minor is at the licensee’s discretion and that the burden of proof lies with the customers. It is recommended that you put in place house policies which cover these sorts of situations.
CAN MINORS SUPPLY LIQUOR ON A LICENSED PREMISES?
Similar to allowing minors to consume liquor on a licensed premises, there is only one circumstance where a licensee is permitted to allow a minor to supply liquor to a customer for consumption on the licensed premises. This is where a minor is engaged in a training program that has the written approval of the VCGLR. A licensee in this position needs to ensure they are adhering to all conditions which the VCGLR has provided in conjunction with that written approval. A minor can be employed to deliver packaged liquor to a person over the age of 18 years (i.e. a junior employee in a supermarket carrying liquor to a customers car)
EVIDENCE OF AGE DOCUMENTATION
Under current regulations, there are specific forms of identification that should only be accepted as evidence of age. These are:
- An Australian drivers licence
- An Australian or foreign passport
- A ‘Proof of Age’ as issued by the Victorian Government (or another state alternative)
- A Victorian learner permit
- A Keypass card
Licensee’s need to ensure that house policies are in place stipulating that these forms of identification will only be accepted at the venue.