STILL A WORK IN PROGRESS: VCGLR

In News & Releases by Clyde Mooney

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The VCGLR has remained steadfast in its response to criticism by the Auditor-General and media, maintaining it continues to work smarter and play better with others.

A report into Regulating gambling and liquor was produced by the Victorian Auditor-General that highlighted a number of criticisms with the regulator’s methods.

Failings were ceased upon by opportunistic media, accusing licensed venues of “getting away with serving drunks and minors because lazy liquor licensing inspectors aren’t working late into the night”.

Media coverage focused on the report’s negatives, highlighting a description of “short and largely superficial” the VCGLR’s 12,474 inspections, due to inspectors finding “only” 5,483 breaches.

The majority of these were minor infractions such as failure to display licences and notices, but significant breaches included 15 instances of serving intoxicated persons, 17 instances of serving or allowing minors on the premises, and 25 notices for selling alcohol without the proper licence.

The fact that “only” 12 per cent of inspections were carried out after 10pm was deemed tantamount to dereliction of duty.

But the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation is un-phased by the criticism, welcoming the Attorney-General’s comments and putting some perspective on its role.

“The report shows that significant work remains to establish the VCGLR as a modern world class regulator, but importantly, it also notes that there are a range of initiatives already underway to improve performance,” a VCGLR spokesperson responded to PubTIC.

“The VCGLR has undergone significant challenges since its establishment in 2012, including a 30 per cent reduction of budget and staff. Some of the issues raised in this report and associated recommendations will have further resource implications, which the VCGLR is yet to work through.

“The VCGLR is committed to improving our approach to all inspections with a wide program of work currently underway across the organisation to ensure inspections are as effective as possible and are in line with our legislative objectives.”

The regulator notes a number of measures mentioned in the VAGO report that didn’t make the news, including:

  • training staff and providing material to support a more risk-based approach to licensing activities
  • providing training to cross-skill all licensing staff in both gambling and liquor
  • review and improve compliance activities to be more responsive and risk based
  • addressed weaknesses in quality assurance for licensing processes
  • improved relationships with the department and Victoria Police