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Intro

Please note consultation closes 2.30pm Monday 7 November 2022

Introduction

Preventing and reducing alcohol-related harm is an ongoing priority for the State Government. The State’s vastness and diversity , present unique challenges in developing policies that help protect individuals and communities at risk of alcohol-related harm. Following consultation with industry, local governments, police and the community, the State Government is trialling a Banned Drinkers Register (BDR) to target harmful levels of alcohol use by controlling access to takeaway packaged liquor.

In December 2020, the State Government, through the Department of Local Government, Sports and Cultural Industries, started a two-year BDR trial in the Pilbara. Subsequent BDR trials commenced in the Kimberley in July 2021, and the Goldfields in March 2022.

The DLGSC engaged the University of Western Australia (UWA) to undertake an independent evaluation of the BDR Pilbara and Kimberley program trials. The Kimberley evaluation also includes the Takeaway Alcohol Management System, and is expected to be finalised in late 2022.

The interim evaluation of the Pilbara BDR trial’s first year of operation identified a range of opportunities to enhance the program’s effectiveness as a harm minimisation tool. This consultation seeks feedback on a suite of reform options to improve and strengthen the BDR.

The BDR

The BDR is a register of Western Australians who are banned from purchasing takeaway alcohol.

The BDR has been extended to packaged liquor retailers in areas where a BDR is in operation. There are three pathways to BDR registration: being subject to Prohibition Orders or Barring Notices, or through voluntary self-nomination. By prohibiting purchases, the BDR aims to restrict access to alcohol in cases where consumption levels are causing harm.

In areas where the BDR operates, anyone purchasing takeaway packaged liquor must present an eligible form of identification. Staff use a BDR scanner to scan the eligible ID at the point of sale. Scanners immediately notify staff if the customer is on the BDR, which provides them with information to determine whether the sale can proceed. A recognised strength of the BDR is its focus on restricting the purchase of takeaway alcohol by people with harmful alcohol use and on the register, without impacting on moderate alcohol consumers.

As at 5 September 2022, BDR registrations per region were as follows:

BDR registrations per region
Region Barring Notice Prohibition Order Voluntary referral Total
Pilbara547759
Kimberley10442983
Goldfields158427

BDR Pilbara trial interim evaluation: observations and recommendations

The Pilbara evaluation focused on the BDR technology and system from an industry perspective, noting that this stakeholder group, as the system’s main users, was well placed to identify issues with, and improvements to, its operation.

The evaluators observed that after 12 months of operation:

  • The BDR program has been implemented as industry stakeholders expected.
  • Industry stakeholders had anticipated a greater number of people being registered on the BDR.
  • The number of people registered on the BDR presenting to stores was relatively low.
  • There were indications people on the BDR were accessing alcohol through store hopping and/or secondary supply, albeit in small numbers.
  • Linkage of people on the BDR to support services was not strong.
  • Scanners did not operate, or were not operated correctly, in a small number of cases.
  • Scanners did not work and/or did not connect to the internet for extended periods in some locations.
  • There was no evident reduction in major crime categories relative to other regional locations without a BDR.
  • The number of people registered on the BDR had stabilised at a relatively low number. This was attributed to limited pathways to registration.

The evaluators recommended the following broad courses of action:

  • Introduce a framework to expand pathways to BDR registration.
  • Increase engagement with designated liquor-restricted premises (under Part 5B of the Liquor Control Act 1988) to create an additional pathway to BDR registration.
  • Strengthen linkages between people on the BDR and a range of services to support them to address their harmful alcohol consumption.
  • Implement a standardised automated store-level reporting framework that can more efficiently identify and resolve scanner technology issues.
  • Further investigate incidents of ‘store-hopping’ and secondary supply.

Similar improvements to the BDR have been suggested by other stakeholders outside of the interim evaluation process.

Proposed changes to optimise the BDR

In response to the interim evaluation findings, the State Government is considering a suite of legislative changes to optimise the BDR. These legislative options are highlighted below and detailed in the table below.

1. Mandatory BDR participation

  • Provide the Minster or Director of Liquor Licensing with the power to mandate licensees to participate in BDR trials or programs in the regions or locations where the BDR operates.
  • Include a sunset clause limiting the mandatory participation requirements to the duration of the BDR trial. If the program is established as an ongoing initiative, the sunset clause could be amended or repealed.

2. Enhance and expand registration pathways

  • Enact additional BDR pathways in WA, such as:
    • options for police and court-related pathways to the BDR
    • expanding the range of people who can seek to place a person on the BDR.
  • Examine elements of the Northern Territory Alcohol Harm Reduction Act 2017 that could be adapted as additional BDR pathways.
  • Expand the criteria for the issue of a Prohibition Order to include alcohol-related violence, driving under the influence of alcohol and other alcohol-related offences.
  • Provide that causative behaviour for a Prohibition Order or Barring Notice be linked to the consumption of liquor not on or in the vicinity of licensed premises.
  • Enable WA Police at or above the rank of Senior Sergeant, in areas subject to a BDR, to issue short-term, immediate Barring Notice(s) for up to 30 days.
  • Enable data sharing between DLGSC and other State Government agencies to create additional pathways for placement on the BDR. This could include, but not be limited to provisional voluntary referral, therapeutic referrals by health professionals, and protectionary referrals by, for example, the Department of Communities and the Department of Health specialist frontline staff (e.g. child protection case workers, emergency room health professionals), and other specialist service providers funded by State Government agencies (e.g. mental health or family and domestic services).

3. Minimise secondary supply

  • Create an offence for supplying liquor to someone known to be on the BDR register, in locations where the BDR is operating.
  • Create an offence for the possession of packaged liquor by a person registered on BDR due to a Prohibition Order or Barring Notice, and provide police with the power to seize and dispose of that liquor.

Enable the expansion of the BDR program to other locations during the trial phase

  • Provide a head of power to enable regulations to prescribe the locations in which the trials are being undertaken, with the potential for additional locations to be prescribed.
  • Establish a legislative framework to recognise and support the BDR trials, including the inclusion of a definition, purpose and objective of the BDR.

4. System and process enhancement

  • Prescribe the types of identification that can be accepted for scanning at licensed premises.
  • Clarify the privacy provisions in the Act to allow DLGSC to provide information about relevant support and help services to people on the BDR.
  • Introduce a requirement for licensees that sell liquor online to check if a purchaser is on the BDR before permitting a sale.
Page reviewed 07 December 2022