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Since launching in April 2018, the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR) Ararat and Sale hubs have made their mark on regional Victoria.
Funded in the 2017 Victorian State Budget, the Ararat and Sale locations were selected to maximise coverage across regional Victoria. Between them, the two hubs cover over 2300 licensed venues including 70 pubs and clubs with more than 2800 gaming machines.
As well as allowing the VCGLR to have more oversight throughout the state, the hubs have also improved responsiveness to local community issues and harm related risks.
In the 2018-19 financial year, the Ararat and Sale teams conducted over 1500 inspections, with over 250 of these relating to high-harm breaches.
Director of Compliance for the VCGLR Adam Ockwell said “Having hubs in the east and west of Victoria has enabled our inspectors to better detect high-harm breaches in regional areas, including instances of unlicensed venues selling liquor and licensees selling liquor outside approved areas”.
The regional hubs have also made significant impacts on local communities through their engagement with stakeholders and licensees. In a recent stakeholder research survey conducted by the VCGLR, Sale and Ararat inspectors received a high level of satisfaction by licensees for their inspections of licensed premises.
Mr Ockwell stated, “Our regional inspectors have been focused heavily on establishing themselves in the regions and building strong relationships within the community to address non-compliance and risks as well as identify areas of confusion by licensees” to ensure voluntary compliance with their licence obligations.
This engagement is further supported through both team’s involvement in local liquor forums, where inspectors interact not only with licensees but local council and Victoria Police.
Working closely with local council and Victoria Police has strengthened relationships and communications between the regulatory bodies. Both Sale and Ararat have taken part in joint operations with Victoria Police as well as assisted in the facilitation of inspector training with liquor licensing officers.
The first year of the VCGLR’s regional hubs has been a positive step to increasing the VCGLR’s presence throughout Victoria.