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Pubs to face regulatory scrutiny throughout footy finals

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Authorities have put pubs on notice ahead of the pending football finals series, warning of plans to target key compliance-related areas in licensed venues. The Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR) says inspections will focus on intoxication, capacity and under-age breaches, as well as trading hours and responsible service issues.

“The VCGLR will be working closely with Victoria Police to ensure licensees are meeting their obligations and keeping compliant by inspecting venues across Melbourne leading up to and over the Grand Final long weekend,” the regulator announced.

These targets are in line with the “basic drivers of compliance” in the liquor and security industries, according to AusComply, which are: patron safety, community expectations and risk profile reduction.

“Although not new, compliance is featuring more now than it has at any time in our past,” AusComply’s Jason Thomas told PubTIC. “One of the greatest risks to a venue is the failure to understand or adequately prioritise compliance requirements. Mistakes can be very costly, not only in fines and breaches, but can significantly increase insurance premiums, management costs and legal expenses.”

VCGLR suggests licensed venues can “assist in the reduction of harm” with voluntary measures such as ticketing to control patron numbers, the promotion of free drinking water and a restriction on the number of drinks per purchase.

Thomas says authorities look favourably upon what’s known as a “culture of compliance” and recommends accurate tracking and readily provided information on:

  • Refusals and removals for signs of intoxication and other reasons
  • Regular head counts to ensure patron capacities are properly managed
  • The identification of and subsequent action taken for underage patrons
  • Adherence to trading hours and local licence conditions
  • Implementation of RSA & RSG obligations
  • Perimeter patrols, toilet checks, slips, trips, falls
  • Staff training and certifications
  • Key operational management decisions and initiatives etc

A former police officer, Thomas says most venues still use paper-based systems, which need to be collated and information provided to the inspector. He and business partner Clive Dillen have spent years perfecting their digital compliance product for the Australian pub industry, and report ongoing work with State regulators across the Eastern seaboard to bring ‘best practise’ to a turbulent regulatory environment.

The AusComply software records all operating compliance information, allowing it to be easily reviewed or shared and demonstrating ongoing proactivity. Being cloud-based it is mobile, accessible from anywhere.

“By far the most common regulator visit will be a random and unannounced site visit,” says Thomas. “So the best way to minimise the impact of these visits, is to become known by your local regulators as a compliant, well-run venue.”

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