Community participation in liquor licensing refers to the involvement of local communities in liquor licensing processes. Specifically, it concerns how communities can influence decision making in a number of ways, including objections or submissions to new applications, or complaining about an existing licensed premises. This resource focuses on objections. Racing, Gaming and Liquor can be contacted to discuss the complaints process for existing licences.
The involvement of community voices in the liquor licensing process is provided for by the Liquor Control Act 1988, which lets the community object to proposed licences and ask that the licence either not be granted, or granted with certain conditions placed on it.
Under the Liquor Control Act 1988, all communities have the opportunity to participate in liquor licensing processes.
There is strong international and Australian evidence linking the availability of alcohol with levels of alcohol consumption, and associated harms from alcohol.    The ‘availability of alcohol’ refers to the density of bottle shops and drinking venues, and their trading hours, in a local area.
Regulating the availability of alcohol through mechanisms like harm minimisation-focused liquor licensing can help reduce harms from alcohol.
Communities have an important part to play in the liquor licensing process and influencing decision making to prevent alcohol related harms. It is critical to have community voices involved so the process is transparent and more representative of the needs of the local community.
The influence of objections in liquor licensing decision-making is complex. A community objection is not a veto. Community objections to liquor licensing applications are one of several considerations that are taken into account by decision-makers.
Although it is difficult to say what weight is given to community objections, and how objections influence decision-making, we know that action to prevent alcohol harms is more effective when community members and partners work together.
Local Drug Action Teams (LDATs) are well placed to respond to potentially harmful liquor licence applications and ensure that community voices are heard in the process. Community participation in liquor licensing may be more effective when your LDAT’s objection is further supported by a number of independent individual objections from other community members. The number of objections may be seen by decision-makers as an indicator of the negative social impact granting the licence may have.
It is worth noting that objections can be struck out if they are repetitive or don’t provide the required amount of proof.