As Australia’s two biggest cities diverge on their approaches to undesirable aspects of the alcohol industry and the late-night economy, their hospitality regulators are similarly transforming.

Late 2015 the Victorian Commission for Gambling & Liquor Regulation (VCGLR) issued the report on its three-year initiative to improve the agency through the key principles of: proactivity, collaboration, transparency, and importantly – targeted, risk-based regulation.

Meanwhile, in NSW, the Office of Liquor, Gaming & Racing (OLGR) will soon transform into the new entity Liquor & Gaming (L&G) NSW, with better capacity for inspection and enforcement including a 20 per cent increase in compliance resources and a ‘surge’ force of up to 100 inspectors.

PubTIC asked compliance expert John Mead, of Intelligent Compliance, what industry will see from the new bodies.

“The VCGLR has a developed a whole-of-organisation approach to minimise alcohol-related harm, which is all based on the responsible consumption of alcohol principles.

“The approach includes an education and communication campaign for licensees, and the targeting of high-risk venues and events.

“In NSW, Deputy Premier and Minister for Justice, Police, and Racing, Troy Grant, said the reforms are needed to allow greater compliance and enforcement capacity after the NSW Government introduced a range of tough restrictions on licensed venues.”

Mead says the greater emphasis on trading history by the regulators will both benefit operators with a history of “safe, low-risk practises”, and hurt the outliers that ultimately create more problems for the rest of industry.

“Those with a poor compliance history will be unable to remain hidden due to the increased focus by the regulators,” says Mead.

The new risk-based scheme in NSW will issue licence fees from $3,000 to $11,500 based on a venue’s history, and puts emphasis on operators to demonstrate their record of maintaining standards. OLGR’s May 2014 fact sheet cites “Venues with a good compliance record will NOT incur any additional fees”.

The Government body issued 4,348 non-compliance breaches from 2011 – 2014, bringing $2.4 million in fines. This was before the scheme even began.

Consecutively, as per the Deputy Premier’s release last October, the new L&G will be purpose-built to monitor the ‘risk’ even more acutely.

“Liquor laws in NSW have never been tougher, and we need a regulator that is equipped to effectively enforce these laws,” said Grant.

As part of the new late-night focus in Melbourne, in conjunction with police, VCGLR inspectors will be targeting compliance in gaming and late-night venues, as well as cafes, restaurants and off-premise outlets.

“Hoteliers with a good compliance record are recognised by the regulators, the police, fellow operators, and the local community, as being responsible servers of alcohol,” continued Mead.

“That is precisely why the industry, and the local communities, are benefitting from the regulatory changes.”

Intelligent Compliance provides a time-efficient, paperless system for monitoring venues’ complex regulatory liquor and gaming requirements. Using smartphone technology, it allows anywhere-anytime access to reports and data, and automatically logs a venue’s compliance history for reporting and inspection obligations.

The company was recently nominated in the 2015 Telstra Business Awards, and is currently conducting a series of Safer Bars presentations in conjunction with AHA NSW.

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