Yarra's local law around drinking alcohol in public places will expire in October this year, and we need to consider options for replacing it.

The current law has caused some division due to the perception that it disproportionately impacts vulnerable members of the community. In 2019 Yarra Councillors directed officers to investigate alternatives to the current local law.

Over the last two years we have carried out:

  • research
  • consultation with key stakeholders
  • benchmarking against other councils.

We have now developed a draft of a new local law, and we need your feedback to further explore and adjust our proposed approach.

The draft law would be significantly different to our current local law, taking a more targeted approach to drinking alcohol in public places. It proposes the opposite of the current local law, specifying where you are not allowed to drink rather than saying where you can drink.

Find out more and have your say

You can find out more by reading the full draft local law, or read a summary below.

Share your feedback by filling in the survey below before Thursday 19 August 2021, or chat to us in person at one of our pop-ups.

The draft law would be added to Yarra’s General Local Law as a new section on the management of drinking alcohol in public places.

It proposes the opposite of the current local law in that it includes specific places where you can't drink, rather than specific places where you can drink.

This different approach targets particular places and times that can be complex, and aims to be more responsive to the specific needs of the Yarra community.

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.
  • Within 10 metres from the boundary of a licensed venue.
  • Within 10 metres of the entrance and exit for public buildings or facilities that provide services to families and children.
  • 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. This would be from 9pm the day before until 9am the day after AFL Grand Final day.

New restrictions prescribed by Council resolution

The draft law also proposes that in certain situations new restrictions can be prescribed by Council resolution. This would would allow us to respond to exceptional circumstances as they arise and is only to be used where it is clear that there is an extraordinary and immediate risk to public safety related to the consumption of alcohol.

The Council would be required to follow specific rules as to when and how a prescription could be made, which are set out in a Procedure and Protocols Manual.

The current local law restricts people from consuming alcohol or possessing an open container of alcohol in any public place in Yarra except for public parks between 9am and 9pm, unless at a licensed venue or event.

It also specifies no consumption of alcohol in Yarra’s parks from 9pm the day before New Year’s Eve until 9am on New Year’s Day.

The draft 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 Procedure and Protocols Manual that direct anyone enforcing the law to first consider circumstances and offer appropriate support instead of punishment.

In this way, the draft law is not intended to be used against anyone experiencing vulnerability or stop them from accessing support.

  • Feedback from key stakeholders in the community, who have a range of different and sometimes conflicting needs.
  • Yarra's vibrant night time economy, the second largest in Victoria after the City of Melbourne. We need to balance the risks associated with our entertainment precincts while supporting responsible serving of alcohol.
  • The social and health issues associated with drinking alcohol.
  • How to ensure that any new law considered does not criminalise social or economic disadvantage or health issues and does not create barriers to seeking assistance.
  • Our responsibility as a local council to promote public health, amenity and community safety.
  • The current policies of State and Federal Governments and other municipalities.

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