New public drinking law aims to support, not punish the vulnerable

Friday 08 October 2021

This week, Yarra passed a new local drinking law to provide a more nuanced and supportive approach towards vulnerable members of the local community.

The new law allows drinking in all public places, except at certain locations and times specified in the law, and was developed via an extensive consultation process which included members of the Aboriginal and Torre Strait Islander community, service providers, liquor licensees, traders and frontline responders such as Victoria Police, hospital emergency departments and outreach workers, including those who work with people who are homeless.

Mayor Cr Gabrielle de Vietri said the new law seeks to find the balance between maintaining Yarra’s vibrant nightlife, while protecting people who may be experiencing vulnerability.

“Our new law will respond to the diverse and sometimes conflicting needs in our community and is designed to be more responsive to local social issues,” she said.

“We know that drinking alcohol can be an important part of many social situations, and as COVID-19 restrictions lift public spaces will be important for gatherings. Our new law won’t stop responsible drinking in social situations with family, neighbours and friends when they are held in public places,” Cr de Vietri said.

Responsible drinking in public places would be allowed throughout Yarra except for:

  • In Yarra's public parks and reserves between 9pm and 9am each day.
  • On the footpath adjoining a licensed venue when it is open and trading, except where the venue mainly sells takeaway liquor (like bottle shops).
  • Within 10 metres of the entrance and exit of public buildings or facilities that provide services to families and children (this includes libraries and leisure centres).
  • Around New Year's Eve, from 9pm on 30 December to 9am 1 January.
  • Around Swan Street in Cremorne and Richmond during AFL Grand Final weekend, from 9pm the day before until 9am the day after AFL Grand Final day.
  • Mayor de Vietri said Yarra has a unique and vibrant night-time economy, the second largest in Victoria after the City of Melbourne.

“It is important that we support the responsible service of alcohol while minimising any risks associated with this,” she said.

“The new law provides direction that the officers enforcing it must address the reason for a possible breach of the law first and offer the option of support through local health and outreach services or consider options other than fines.”

The new Local Law commences on 19 October 2021


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