Regulatory compliance in alcohol sales; exploring the policy context of liquor licensing enforcement in Victoria

Drug Type:
image - Bottle Shop
Project Main Description

In 2009 a civilian inspectorate to enforce liquor licensing legislation was established in Victoria, known as the Compliance Directorate of Responsible Alcohol Victoria (RAV).  Previously, the police had primary responsibility for enforcing the liquor licensing legislation. Understanding how the Compliance Directorate was implemented and assessing its effectiveness are potentially important contributions to the evidence base for alcohol policies.


The Directorate has substantially improved enforcement of administrative provisions of license conditions. In a climate where previously very little liquor license enforcement existed, the Directorate has been required to negotiate conflicting views on appropriate approaches to regulation, potentially undermining its capacity to pose a real threat of enforcement action for licensees who are in breach of their obligations. While civilian inspectors promote a better regulated alcohol industry, evidence indicates that provisions prohibiting sales to minors and the intoxicated (with greatest potential to impact on alcohol-associated harm) remain insufficiently enforced.

Implications for policy: Active enforcement of licensing provisions should be a policy priority with particular focus on enforcement of provisions concerning sales to minors and the intoxicated.

Implications for research: The Compliance Directorate is now being amalgamated into a new body charged with enforcing both gambling and liquor licensing. Research should be conducted to identify impacts of this merger. Turning Point will build on this program of research through collaboration with Dr Grazyna Zajdow (Deakin University) in examining the impact of the Save Live Music campaign on licensing policy in Victoria; and a Criminology Honours student placement to undertake a study of decisions by the Victorian Civil Administrative Appeals Tribunal, identifying what arguments have been successful in achieving decisions which will have the effect of restricting alcohol availability.



  • MacLean, S., & Wilkinson, C. (2010, November). Police and civil models for enforcement of liquor licensing provisions in Victoria, Australia. 69th Alcohol Problems Research Symposium, Stonecross Manor Hotel, Kendal, United Kingdom.
  • Wilkinson, C. & MacLean, S. (2010, November). Enforcing Alcohol Availability: The introduction of liquor licensing inspectors in Victoria, Australia. Kettil Bruun Society Thematic Meeting Kampala, Uganda.
  • Wilkinson, C. & MacLean, S. (2011, March). Early years of the Victorian Compliance Directorate: challenges for alcohol licensing and enforcement. Drug Policy Modelling Program Research Symposium, Sydney.
  • Wilkinson, C. & MacLean, S. (2011, April). Views on civilian licensing enforcement: The Victorian Compliance Directorate, 37th Annual Alcohol Epidemiology Symposium of the Kettil Bruun Society, Melbourne.
Project Collaborators: External

Claire Wilkinson
Centre for Alcohol Policy Research, Turning Point

Sarah MacLean
Centre for Alcohol Policy Research, Turning Point

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