Victoria is often held up as a leader in health – but in at least one area, it is behind the ball.

Sarah Jaggard, Community Mobilisation Policy Officer of the Australian Drug Foundation, is hoping that a new call to ban the secondary supply of alcohol to minors may be taken up by the Victorian Government.

Sarah Jaggard writes:

I hold the issue of secondary supply of alcohol to young people close to my heart, so you can imagine my thrill when this popped up in my daily lunchtime perusal of the news: “New Victorian alcohol laws recommended after inquiry…the Victorian parliament should make it illegal for anyone other than a parent, guardian or spouse to supply alcohol to children in homes, an inquiry has found.”

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Tossing my lunch aside, I conducted a swift bit of Googling and found that the Victorian Parliament’s Drugs and Crime Prevention Committee have tabled their final report on the Inquiry into Strategies to Reduce Assaults in Public Places in Victoria. (You read the report in its 368 page glory here)

It’s not just a half baked mention of secondary supply buried in the depths of the report either – it’s an actual recommendation: “The Committee recommends that the Victorian Government enact secondary supply legislation to make it illegal for anyone other than a parent, guardian or spouse to provide alcohol to a minor in a private setting.”

The Drugs and Crime Prevention Committee has been pushing this baby for a while. In 2006 they recommended that the Liquor Control Reform Act 1998 be amended to prohibit secondary supply in private residences but this advice was not accepted by the government, which cited the difficulties associated with enforcing such a law.

Sure, this is another great step forward, but when will the Government heed our call?

After all, we’re not asking for much. Just a little piece of legislation that states that an adult must not supply alcohol to a young person at a private place unless the adult is a parent or guardian or has specific permission of a parent or guardian of that young person. And that the adult must supply alcohol in responsible manner and ensure that it is consumed safely.

Tell me honestly – who would argue with that? There are only benefits to the legislation as far as I can tell – apart from the fact that it would put a brake on young people’s access to alcohol, it would also reduce alcohol related harm. It also allows parents to give their children alcohol, so it doesn’t interfere with parents’ rights.

And the word on the street is that it wouldn’t be hard to put into effect – police officers could enforce such a law by issuing an infringement notice as is the case for other non-criminal offence.

The prospect of secondary supply legislation has been sitting in the Government’s hands for at least four years. NSW, QLD and TAS have all implemented legislation – when will the Victorian Government listen to their advisors and follow suit?

Do we have to wait for another young person to die? I hope not.

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