clubs & societies

Liquor License Regulation Changes to Affect Orientation Camps

20 December 2017

The University Of Melbourne Student Union (UMSU) clubs and societies department has proposed new liquor licensing regulations, changing the ways alcohol can be consumed on club camps.

It is now a requirement that all clubs running a camp must hold a liquor license, meaning that campers will no longer be allowed to bring their own alcohol on camps, including on upcoming orientation camps. These regulation changes will address concerns about a harmful ‘camp culture’—marked by heavy drinking and reports of sexual assault and sexual harassment.

The new liquor licensing regulations will require clubs to purchase a liquor license prior to their camp and serve alcohol in a manner consistent with the terms of the license. This means that all alcohol consumed on camp will have to be served to attendees by camp leaders.This is likely to raise camp ticket prices, particularly for orientation camps, with the provision that camp tickets will now include all alcohol. It is likely that non-drinking camp tickets will be offered for a lower price.

There are hopes that these new regulations will help propel change to the harmful aspects of camp culture. In an email sent out to all clubs, Clubs and Societies Officer Matthew Simkiss notes that the results of the Australian Human Rights Commissions survey into students’ experiences of sexual assault and sexual harassment played a role in the department’s decision to implement the new regulations.

“Components of camp culture need to change. There are definitely amazing parts of camp culture; I went on camp in my first year and it was one of the best things I did… but there is a culture of binge drinking in some camps and within some groups, and I think that needs to change,” says Simkiss.

“We are moving into a culture that focuses more on student welfare and safety than it has in the past… so people can drink if they choose to and they can enjoy themselves on camp but they don’t end up in situations where they are too drunk to look after themselves and dangerous situations occur.”

At a student’s council meeting, Clubs and Societies Officer Nellie Seale echoed these concerns.

“Behaviour on camps has not been ideal, people have gotten hurt. There’s twenty [and] twenty-one year olds looking after eighteen [and] nineteen year olds… Having this structure in place, which is legally enforced, will help protect those people”, she said.

The regulation changes will also provide greater legal protection for UMSU and clubs themselves, and ensure that clubs remain responsible and accountable for the safety of campers. By guaranteeing that all alcohol is served to campers by camp leaders in designated areas, leaders can keep an eye on campers who are becoming intoxicated.

However, the vice president of the Science Students Society, Jose Francisco Carranceja, is concerned that these new regulations may actually increase the risk to campers as they could result in campers drinking prohibited alcohol in unsafe areas away from camp leaders.

“Having a liquor license encourages campers to secretly drink large quantities of hard liquors in their cabins—where they won’t be seen with their own alcohol. To themselves and to leaders, this is far more dangerous. They’ll become much more quickly intoxicated and be too scared to tell anyone what they’ve had.”

Additionally, there have been concerns raised that these new regulation changes will increase individual responsibility for camp leaders and club executives, especially when rules are broken by camp attendees.

“What C&S has done is instead of proactively trying to work with clubs to find a sustainable culture shift, they have forcibly pushed a culture shift seemingly overnight, which has seen almost nothing but confusion and resistance from the majority of the community and leaving those organising camps scrambling for ways to deal with this,” Carranceja said.

The vice president of the Engineering Music Society, Tyler Sudholz, is also concerned that regulation changes so close to orientation camps will create difficulty for camp organisers.

“I am glad that our club is not one that runs a camp at the very start of the semester since those clubs have a tedious job to do in untangling the new regulations in a limited time frame. I do feel that the new regulations are adding to the already extensive responsibilities of club execs both in the preparation for, and during camps… and I certainly don’t want execs to have to become fun-ruining tedious enforcers of new and confusing rules.”

The clubs and societies officers attempted to pass the new regulations at students’ council on 18 December, but only 13 out of a required 14 councillors voted in favour of the new regulations. However, the clubs and societies department remain adamant that the regulation changes will still apply to upcoming orientation camps.

Read Jose Francisco Carranceja’s full statement, and the response from the clubs and societies department here.


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