Alcohol and the Law-What Parents need to know

Alcohol and the Law-What Parents need to know

Did you know that almost 40% of underage drinkers get alcohol from their parents, and only 5 % buy it themselves?  Therefore, a good deal of underage drinking (55%) occurs when minors obtain alcohol from a person who is not their parent, guardian or carer. This is termed as Secondary Supply.

The National Health and Medical Research Council’s Australian guidelines suggest that for people under 18 years of age, not drinking alcohol is the safest option. There have been lots of cases where a person has suffered injuries or died as a result of drinking too much alcohol after being supplied with it by an adult who was not their parent.

Regulating private supply of alcohol aims to stop that happening by deterring adults from supplying alcohol to young people without approval from the young person’s parents. Across Australia, a person who is under the age of 18 is not breaking the law if they drink alcohol on private property. However, in Western Australia and other states the person who supplied them with the alcohol could be breaking the law-unless they are the child’s parent or guardian and act in a responsible manner.

Under Section 122A of the Liquor Legislation Amendment Act 2015 (WA), it is illegal to supply alcohol to people aged under 18 in a private home without the consent of the parent or guardian. It is an offence to supply alcohol to people under aged 18 if the parent or guardian giving consent is drunk or otherwise unable to act in a responsible manner. Offenders are liable for a fine of up to $10,000 for each underage drinker involved.

How does this impact on parents who are hosting a party? We’ve all heard the horror stories in the media of out of control parties, even with careful planning. It is understandable that you may feel overwhelmed about what might happen if you host a party for your child. You must remember that the media usually only focus on parties that don’t go well, and that many parents successfully conduct parties for their teenagers with only happy memories of the event. Of course, any party you host has the potential to go awry, and there are several things you can do at the planning stage to enable things run as smoothly as possible, and to be ready for unexpected problems.

Here are examples of some of the things you can do:

·         An alcohol-free party is the safest option. Don’t supply or allow alcohol to be brought to the party and inform invitees of this on the party invitation.

·         Make the party “invitation only”

·         Negotiate ground rules with your child about what will and will not happen at the party.

·         Make sure the party is well supervised by adults: you may need to ask some friends to help. Good adult supervision can significantly reduce the likelihood of people being harmed.

·         Do not allow anyone who is obviously affected by alcohol or other drugs to come into the party

·         Let the police and the neighbours know you are having a party.

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