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Underage patrons on licensed premises
The legal drinking age in Victoria is 18 years of age. Therefore, it is generally an offence for any person to supply alcohol to a minor. In many instances, it is also an offence for a minor to be on licensed premises or to purchase, receive or consume alcohol.
A person under 18 years of age is not permitted on the licensed premises unless there is a condition listed on the licence approved by the VCGLR, or the young person is:
- with a responsible adult
- having a meal
- is a resident, if accommodation is supplied
- employed by the licensee but not involved in the supply of alcohol
- completing a training program in hospitality.
Note: A restaurant and cafe licence an on premises licence with restaurant conditions permits persons under 18 years to be on the licensed premises during ordinary trading hours, which is until 11pm.
Persons under 18 years are not allowed to drink alcohol on licensed premises, unless they are with a parent or legal guardian AND having a meal.
A licensee is able to refuse entry to any person as long as the reason is not discriminatory. The licensee also has the right to ask any person to leave their premises. No special laws or forms are required to do this.
A responsible adult is defined as a person who is of or over the age of 18 years and who is:
- the younger person’s parent, step-parent, guardian, grandparent; or
- the younger person’s spouse; or
- a person who is acting in place of a parent and who could reasonably be expected to exercise responsible supervision of the younger person.
From 1 July 2014, amendments to the Liquor Control Reform Act 1998, allow liquor licensees and permittees to have minors on that part of their premises or authorised premises when:
(i) a mixed-age live music event is being held in accordance with notice given to the VCGLR and prescribed conditions and
(ii) liquor is not supplied, consumed or made available on that part of the premises.
Depending on the type of event, liquor licensees or permittees must submit either a notification or an application form to the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR):
For more information visit Minors on licensed premises - underage or mixed-age events.
A minor cannot be involved in the supply of alcohol, except if they are part of a training program that has individual approval from the VCGLR. They can, however, assist in the delivery of packaged liquor to a person over 18 years of age, for consumption off the licensed premises.
For example, a junior staff member can carry a slab of beer to a customer's car. A minor cannot sell alcohol through a check-out in a licensed supermarket.
It is an offence for any person to supply liquor to someone under 18 years of age. This is where any other person purchases liquor and illegally supplies to a minor, other than in a residence. Significant fines and penalties apply.
It is an offence under the Liquor Control Reform Act 1998 for a person under 18 years of age to purchase or receive liquor from another person. This is not a recent change.
A liquor licensee must not supply liquor to a minor or sell liquor to a person who they suspect will supply liquor to a minor.
To comply with this obligation, a licensee may decide to implement internal policies, for example, no service to people aged over 18 in school uniform or individuals accompanied by minors. This is a business decision, not a legal requirement.
Fines for service to a minor may exceed $18,000 (up to 120 penalty units) and incur demerit points.
Key offences relating to minors
The Liquor Control Reform Act 1998 includes the following offences relating to minors. Significant fines and penalties apply.
- A licensee or permittee must not supply liquor or allow liquor to be supplied to a minor unless an exemption applies.
- A licensee must not permit a minor to supply liquor on licensed premises.
- A licensee or permittee must not permit a minor on licensed premises, unless the minor is in the company of a responsible adult, eating a meal, are a resident of those premises, the licensed premises is subject to an approval granted by the VCGLR, they are engaged in an approved hospitality program or are employed by the licensee or permittee (there are exceptional circumstances that apply).
A person younger than 18 years of age must not:
- purchase or receive liquor from another person
- possess or consume liquor in a licensed premises, unless as part of a meal and in the company of their spouse, being 18 years of age or older, or their parent or guardian
- possess or consume liquor elsewhere unless an exemption applies
- enter or remain on licensed premises except if they are eating a meal, are an employee of the licensee, are a resident of the licensed premises, are in the company of a responsible adult, the licensed premises is subject to an approval granted by the VCGLR or they are engaged in an approved hospitality program
- falsely represent themselves to be of, or over, 18 years of age
- refuse or give false particulars of name, age or address
- deface a proof of age document.
It is an offence for any person to:
- send a minor to obtain liquor
- supply liquor to someone younger than 18 years of age, unless supplied in a residence by a parent, guardian or spouse or by someone authorised to do so by a parent, guardian or spouse of the young person
- give proof of age documentation to another person if they have reasonable grounds to suspect that the documentation may be used as proof of age by that person or as evidence to gain proof of age
- make a false document that could reasonably be taken as proof of age or to provide these documents to another person.
Licensees are encouraged to become familiar with the Act as it is the primary piece of legislation about the regulation and supply of liquor in Victoria, and it also provides information about other issues of non-compliance of the Act. This can be found at the website, www.legislation.vic.gov.au