It is an offence for a minor to be on licensed premises in Queensland unless they have a valid exemption. The minor, staff at the premises, the approved manager, and the licensee may all be penalised for this offence.
The Liquor Act 1992 provides seven exemptions to allow minors to enter and remain on licensed premises. Each of these exemptions stands alone, but not all exemptions apply to all licensed premises or at all times of day. We have listed the exemptions below with a short explanation of the circumstances where they apply. If you already know you want to apply for an exemption for a specific purpose you can go straight to our free tool.
Exemptions Allowing Minors to Enter or Remain on Licensed Premises
1. In the company of a responsible adult who is responsibly supervising the minor.
Who is a responsible adult?
A parent, step-parent or guardian of the minor is a responsible adult. Additionally, anyone who has parental rights and responsibilities for the minor may fit the definition, which could include:
- parents who have their children’s friends with them;
- older siblings where the difference in age and maturity would suggest the older person has parental rights and responsibilities.
Who is not a responsible adult?
In simple terms, anyone who does not have parental rights and responsibilities for the minor, but common examples are:
- friends of the minor;
- boyfriend, girlfriend, or partner of the minor (some Australian states have an exception to this rule if the people are married or in a de facto relationship, this does not apply in Queensland);
- older siblings where the difference in age and maturity does not suggest the older person has parental rights and responsibilities.
What is responsible supervision?
This is not defined in the Liquor Act so licensees must use common sense when deciding if the responsible adult is providing responsible supervision. Some things to consider are:
- the size of the premises and the number of patrons present;
- levels of intoxication generally and of the responsible adult specifically;
- the location of the minor relative to the responsible adult.
2. While employed by the licensee or occupier; receiving training; or conducting a lawful business.
The minor may enter and remain on the premises for the duration of their shift, training or lawful business, but must leave the premises after this time if they have no other exemption.
Is there a minimum age to work on licensed premises?
The Liquor Act does not specify a minimum age to work on licensed premises, but does prohibit minors from working in an area where adult entertainment is being conducted. Despite this, if licensees employ minors they must comply with Queensland’s employment Child Employment Act, which makes it unlawful to expose minors to adult oriented material or acts. Therefore, even if the premises are not approved for adult entertainment, it may be unlawful to employ a minor in certain roles.
What is a lawful business?
Examples of a lawful business include:
- making a delivery;
- providing contracted services such as a trade or housekeeping;
- providing entertainment (other than adult entertainment).
This is not an exhaustive list and there are other circumstances which may meet this definition.
Can a minor serve alcoholic drinks or work behind the bar?
A minor on the premises under this exemption may be in possession of liquor if it is part of their duties or lawful business, so they can serve drinks and work behind the bar.
3. While eating a meal.
Meals are defined in the Liquor Act as food that –
- is eaten by a person sitting at a table, or fixed structure used as a table, with cutlery provided for the purpose of eating the food; and
- is of sufficient substance as to be ordinarily accepted as a meal.
This exemption applies while the minor is eating and once they have finished their meal they must leave the premises if they have no other exemption.
A common problem for food outlets occurs where minors are on the premises to eat food that does not meet the definition of a meal, such as snacks, cakes, soft drinks, coffee etc, or to pick up takeaway food. Although takeaway food may be a meal, the minor is on the premises to collect it, not eat it, and does not have an exemption. If licensees wish to allow minors to enter the premises for these purposes, they must obtain a specific approval as set out below.
4. As a resident on licensed premises.
A resident can be temporary, such as at a motel, apartment block or campground, or permanent, where the licensee and their family reside at the premises.
5. While attending a function.
Functions are events organised by someone other than the licensee where the benefit to the licensee is limited to a charge for the use of the premises and the provision of catering facilities. Examples include weddings, birthday parties, and corporate events.
6. If the club rules or permit conditions allow minors to be on the premises.
If the premises are subject to a community club or community other licence; or a craft beer producer or restricted liquor permit, minors may be on the premises if this does not contravene the club’s rules or a condition of the licence or permit.
7. For a specific purpose approved by the commissioner.
The final exemption is where a licensee wishes to allow minors on the premises for a specific purpose other than one of those listed above.
This exemption is routinely granted to restaurants and cafes to allow minors to be on the premises to purchase food (that is not a meal) and non-alcoholic drinks, or to collect takeaway food. Other licensed premises may also apply, and there is no predetermined range of circumstances where the approval will, or will not, be granted. But, licensees may need to show how minors will be prevented from coming into possession of or consuming liquor on or around the licensed premises.
If you would like to apply to have a condition added to your licence to provide this exemption, we have provided a free tool below which will send an email to OLGR to lodge an application on your behalf. The application fee is $95.85 (2020-21) which can be paid by credit card. OLGR will contact you after you lodge the application to collect payment.
When These Exemptions Do Not Apply
Minors must not, under any circumstances, enter an area approved for adult entertainment while adult entertainment is being provided. Therefore, none of the exemptions apply to these premises.
In a nightclub after 5pm the exemptions for eating a meal or being in the company of a responsible adult do not apply. All other applicable exemptions are available.
A condition of the licence may remove or limit the effect of any of the exemptions listed above.