Currently 15 to 17 year olds are second only to 18 to 24 year olds for emergency department presentations for alcohol related injury. This is despite the fact that 15 to 17 year olds should legally only have access to alcohol under supervision of their parents or guardians.
Parental education is having a positive impact, but our surveys between 2012 – present indicate that a substantial number of bottle shops will sell alcohol to teenagers without checking ID. All surveys have demonstrated sales rates greater than 20% and two have been greater than 40%.
Making progress in this area has required developing solid partnerships, including partnering an industry recognised shopping surveying organisation, Liquor and Gaming NSW, Central Sydney Local Health District , the two Central Coast Liquor Accords, direct involvement of our Chief Executive in communications with local Bottle Shops Re their responsibilities, and New Zealand Health Promotion Agency and New Zealand Police.
New Zealand has made world leading steps towards controlling sale of alcohol to minors through Controlled Purchase Operations. We have made similar strides with Tobacco Sales to Minors, but our law currently prevents us from organising teenagers under 18 to attempt to purchase alcohol for the purpose of enforcement.
We can however check compliance with the ID25 protocol. That protocol requires that bottle shop staff check the ID of all customers who might be less than 25 years of age before they sell them alcohol. An industry recognised shopping survey organisation, checks bottle shops compliance with ID25 with 18 and 19 year olds. The surveyors are “teenagers” who are legally allowed to buy alcohol. Failure to comply with ID25 is not illegal, but it does indicate that in that instance the bottle shop would have been at risk of making an illegal sale.
In the survey carried out by Central Sydney LHD three quarters of bottle shops did not check ID.
- We continue to communicate the risk of a prosecution through communications and presentations at our local liquor accords.
- We will continue to survey bottle shops on the Central Coast, and are currently reviewing the process and data to date.
- Local evidence in addition to the success in New Zealand might support NGOs eg FARE (Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education) in raising the issue of legislative change to allow for controlled alcohol purchase operations
To read the latest on the drinking habits of young people in NSW, 2016 click here.
Information and resources for Retailers
Retailers found guilty of selling alcohol to a minor face substantial penalties, including fines of up to $11,000 and/or 12 months imprisonment, as well as a strike for venues under the Three Strikes disciplinary scheme. Click for futher information.
NSW Liquor and Gaming have a number of resources to assist retailers avoid underage sales. These resources are available to down load here.