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A community response to alcohol and other drug issues in the City of Yarra

Law making around alcohol consumption in public spaces

The City of Yarra has proposed a revised local law to manage the public consumption of alcohol after a two-year process of consultation and review with stakeholders. 

The Yarra Drug and Health Forum has been represented on a Council convened Public Drinking Reference Group, have held two community forums around the issue, one in December 2019, and the other in August 2021, and have participated in making a submission to Council in July 2021, and participating in the public consultation on the draft new law.

Yarra Drug and Health Forum’s submission to Council in July 2021 pointed to the evidence that showed that public drinking laws are often harmful to the Aboriginal community and other  vulnerable groups including people who are experiencing homelessness, mental illness or drug dependence, and encouraged adopting public health and community capacity building approaches in lieu of a local law. Our online forum Laws to regulate public drinking – pros, pitfalls, evidence and alternatives on Monday 9 August featured a keynote presentation from Professor Rob Moodie on public health approaches to public drinking and included local stakeholders from legal services and police in a panel discussion.


Watch our August forum on the topic of public drinking


This forum formed a complementary contribution to the Council led consultation and review processes. 

We commend the City of Yarra for their thorough and careful consideration of how to achieve the desired outcomes for the law in terms of managing unwanted impacts on community safety and amenity while assuring that unintended harmful impacts for vulnerable people by the new local law are anticipated and managed. 

These include:

  • nuancing of the local law to address concerns regarding bringing vulnerable people to the unwanted and unwarranted attention of police.The proposed new law starts with a statement that explains that it is not to be used in situations where a person appears to be physically, psychologically, socially, culturally or economically vulnerable. 
  • There are also specific rules in the Procedures and Protocols Manual that direct anyone enforcing the law to first consider circumstances and offer appropriate support instead of punishment. In this way, the proposed new law is not intended to be used against anyone experiencing vulnerability or stop them from accessing support.
  • There isprovision for any infringement notices to be referred to and reviewed, and potentially repealed, by Council Social Policy staff, as well as supporting referral of vulnerable people to appropriate services, 
  • Council propose to review the operation of the local law in 2 years (2023), and attend to any unintended consequences, including any unnecessary interaction of the community with law enforcement, evaluate the effectiveness of the law. Monitor and report on any data , including observations of police and other stakeholders, including the Aboriginal community, health and legal services.

Yarra City Council  are now inviting submissions on this proposed local law until 5pm on Wednesday 29 September 2021. You can download the proposed Local Law and proposed Procedures and Protocols Manual and make your submission online here:

https://yoursayyarra.com.au/drinkingpublic

Law Making Around Alcohol Consumption In Public Spaces
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