The VCGLR – in association with Melbourne Councils and Victoria Police – has released responses to the Q&A by dozens of impacted licensees at the inaugural Licensee Super Forum.
The Licensee Super Forum (LSF) took place in May in Melbourne’s Town Hall, and heralded advancement in management and collaboration around licensed venue issues between authorities and businesses.
Several hundred industry representatives gathered to hear presentations from guest speakers, followed by a collective panel made up of: Catherine Myers (VCGLR), Trevor Cornwill (Victoria Police), Paddy O’Sullivan (AHA), Ash Watson (CUB), David Staughton (keynote speaker).
Attendees were also invited to submit questions to the expert panel, which have now been formally answered and provide valuable insight into the workings and future of the licensing systems in Victoria. (See full report here.)
One highlight was certification by Victoria Police on its “innovative solutions” to keep pace with social trends, an evidence-based approach, and ongoing commitment to partnerships with stakeholders, specifically local councils, Health, Justice, the not- for-profit sector, business and academia.
“These partnerships will allow Victoria Police to gather a solid evidence base on what works, or is showing early benefits in prevention and early intervention for reducing alcohol-related harm in the community.
“Evidence suggests that the best approaches to reducing alcohol-related harms are those that incorporate a range of measures. These measures include legislative amendments, education, community engagement, early intervention programs, taxation and effective regulation of both the advertising of alcohol and the availability of alcohol.”
With assistance from the Liquor Licensing Unit and Taskforce Razon, Victoria Police are exercising ongoing measures including the monitoring and patrols of the Chapel Street entertainment area, and My City – addressing public order and licensing in and around the Central Entertainment Precinct.
My City incorporates the strategy much called for by industry of high police visibility on the street, and numbers at incidents.
“Early indications of the success of MY City have been public order crime category reductions, enhanced perceptions of public safety and increased enforcement capacity.”
A highly topical question related to the Government’s thoughts on introducing ‘lockouts’, which were quickly clarified.
“The Victorian Government does not support the lockout laws. Previous Minister for Liquor Regulation Jane Garrett said that previous attempts at a lockout in Melbourne were ‘a disaster for the fabric of our social and cultural identity’.”
There will instead be a series of alternate measures such as ongoing regular licensing inspections, further consideration of late-night public transport increases, and the continuation of the late-night licence freeze in key areas.
“Victorian Government has extended the freeze on the granting of new liquor licence applications for licensees wanting to trade past 1am in the local governments areas of Melbourne (including Docklands), Stonnington, Yarra and Port Phillip until 30 June 2019.”
The state-wide freeze on new licences to trade past 1am was lifted in July 2015, and authorities have since begun encouraging small venues with good history and which serve food or have live music to apply to extend their licence.
In considering extensions, the Commission makes special provision for accommodation hotels, and those providing live music and food. It also gives preference to small operations, stipulating patron capacity to not exceed 200 persons.
This slant toward small, restaurant-style licenses caused some consternation by existing operators, with questions relating to operations trading “outside” their conditions.
“The VCGLR will continue to review compliance actions in light of changing trends.”
Questions around patron identification brought up both the introduction of networked ID scanners, which the VCGLR stipulated would “not be commercially viable”, and the introduction of foreign driver licences as an acceptable form of ID. The latter is not allowed as per the State’s ‘Acceptable Evidence of Age’ documentation, and amendment would require a change to the legislation.
Security is a fact of business for many venues, and the forum brought to light advancements in the relevant training for licensed venues – as seen in the recently released Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) national review.
ICE & DRUGS
Licensed and public venues nationally have faced the increasing scourge of people affected by meth-amphetamine (aka: Ice). Victorian authorities are addressing this issue.
“The State Government ICE Taskforce has developed a free online training module called ‘Ice: Training for Frontline Workers’.
“With the completion of this online course, workers are able to develop knowledge and confidence in ensuring their own personal safety as well as the safety of others, [and] effectively respond to people who are affected by ice.
“Drug training is included in the Advanced Responsible Service of Alcohol provided by the William Angliss Institute in partnership with the Victorian Commission of Gambling and Liquor Regulation.”
The Future of Accords
Endemic to the forum’s mandate, many in the audience wished to better understand the guidance and future of licensee Accords, and opinions on their value.
The VCGLR provided a number of responses, and outlined its views on the self-governing bodies. It believes Accords:
- strengthen partnerships and encourage collaboration between stakeholders
- reduce the risk of incidents
- promote best practise guidelines and harm minimisation strategies
The Commission says Accords working with itself, police, government and community ultimately “maximise opportunities to attract patrons and minimise potential incidents”, and members benefit from: better access to information on compliance and licence conditions and changes to laws, help with strategies, and working relationships and networking opportunities.
It also recognises that encouraging Accord attendance can be “a challenge” and had suggestions on ways to attract more participants:
- include guest speakers
- rotate the chairing of meetings amongst licensees
- promote membership through activities such as personally inviting each licensee in the LGA
- promote the forum and the benefits it provides (eg. via relevant media)
Overwhelmingly, the feedback to PubTIC at the Super Forum was one of both value and relevance, with the City of Melbourne praised for its insight. There are continued hopes for more such events before the end of the year.