Police lauded industry, as industry praises the Regulators on Knowledge Exchange stakeholder events.

The Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR) recently concluded a series of three Knowledge Exchange events, ahead of its now released three year plan for the future of liquor and gaming in the State.

The Knowledge Exchanges are ongoing events involving licensed venues, police and local government and other stakeholders. They took place at Geelong in March, Preston in June, and Wangaratta in late August.

PubTIC spoke with Steve Wilson, owner-licensee of the Grand Central Hotel, in the heart of Wangaratta, who was a vocal attendee of the last meeting.

“It’s definitely been beneficial. This kind of thing is important, especially if everyone is coming from different angles. The Police, publicans, and regulatory bodies – we all have different points of view on the same topics, so you get a good cross-section of opinion.

“I need to understand the problems faced by police, they need to understand a business operator’s challenges. When everybody works together, it improves everything.

“We want to run a good business, and keep the Police happy. I’m sure they feel the same; the hospital industry has a big workforce, and is a key factor in the community. It’s important we all get together and share information.”

Wilson brought up at the meeting Victoria’s position as the only State still allowing the ambiguous condition of ‘intoxicated’ but not drunk, requiring publicans to cut off patrons but not force them to leave, which he says “make it hard for everyone” including police.

Wangaratta local area commander Inspector David Ryan spoke at the meeting, and praised the work of industry and local licensees – around 50 of whom were in attendance.

“We need a very strong liquor industry, run by the people in this very room who are doing, from our point of view, a sensational job,” said Ryan.

One of Ryan’s points centred around late-closing licenses, which he supports. Touching on the difficulties of inter-precinct and even inter-state regulations, he suggested earlier closing times would put hundreds of kids “on the road to Albury”, 70 kilometres away, every Friday and Saturday night.

The VCGLR says it has introduced a “new vision and purpose” that reflects community expectations on gambling and alcohol, while aligning with its own regulatory approach and commitment to harm minimisation.

The NSW OLGR recently announced similar ground-breaking initiatives, offering operators the chance to put the mouth where their money is.

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