BRUCE NOTLEY-SMITH: We need an approach that balances the rights of parents to make private decisions about how to educate their children about alcohol with the community’s expectation that adults should only give alcohol to young people in a responsible way.
BRUCE NOTLEY-SMITH: We need an approach that balances the rights of parents to make private decisions about how to educate their children about alcohol with the community’s expectation that adults should only give alcohol to young people in a responsible way.

New rules on grog

A REPORT into the laws governing the provision of alcohol to minors by parents or guardians in NSW has recommended a change to a requirement of "responsible supervision".

Premier Barry O'Farrell called for the report by the Parliamentary Social Policy Committee in response to concern about teenage drinking in the community.

The committee found the laws are not well understood and there is not enough guidance about what is acceptable if a parent or guardian chooses to provide alcohol or authorise its supply.

But the report rejected the idea of a blanket ban.

"There is no single solution to address the prob- lems that come from excessive alcohol consumption, particularly among young people," said committee chairman Bruce Notley-Smith.

"We need an approach that balances the rights of parents to make private decisions about how to educate their children about alcohol with the community's expectation that adults should only give alcohol to young people in a respon- sible way. This is why we have recommended strengthening the law to require 'responsible supervision', and to promote education and clear public information".

Responsible supervision would be determined by factors including the age of the minor; the amount and type of alcohol being consumed; whether the adult and/or the minor is drunk; and whether food is being consumed with alcohol.

The report has also recommended a public education campaign around the issue and calls for a greater range of penalties to be available to magistrates.

Maximum penalties are $11,000 or 12 months jail. Fines were found to be not always appropriate.

Instead they have recommended courts be given discretion to decide whether counselling would be appropriate for the adults and minors involved.

They looked at secondary supply (illegal sale or supply of alcohol to people under 18) and found, although there are "practical complexities" in enforcing these laws, they have value as a deterrent and "send a message to the community about what is acceptable".



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