The proliferation of patron banning in Australia; implications for the control of alcohol-related disorder in the night-time economy

C. Farmer1*, A. Curtis2, B. Guadagno3, P. Miller4

1 Dr Clare Farmer, School of Humanities & Social Sciences, Deakin University
2 Ashlee Curtis, School of Psychology, Deakin University
3 Dr Belinda Guadagno, School of Psychology, Deakin University
4 Professor Peter Miller, School of Psychology, Deakin University

*corresponding author:

Concern about alcohol-related violence and disorder in Australian entertainment precincts has proliferated over the last decade, and has prompted a range of responses across every jurisdiction. Measures have included lockouts, increases in on-the-spot fines, tougher licensing regulation, and a steady expansion of discretionary police powers. The ability to ban troublesome individuals, from specific venues and/or wider public areas, has been introduced and extended in a range of contexts. The increasing remit of banning powers builds upon an embedded assumption that exclusion is necessary and ‘works’ as both an individual and collective deterrent. However, unlike other mechanisms which target a reduction in problems associated with alcohol-related disorder in the night-time economy, there has been only limited analysis of the implementation and use of banning powers. Banning provisions have steadily increased but with very little specific examination of their nature, extent or use, or of the effect of bans upon both individual recipients and alcohol-related disorder in general.

This paper draws together relevant patron and area banning legislation across Australia to provide an inventory of banning provisions. An examination of key differences and similarities, and consideration of how the various provisions are monitored highlights a lack clarity regarding the how banning powers are being developed and why. Banning, as a response to alcohol-related disorder, continues to be extended, but in a seemingly ad hoc and inconsistent manner. The actual effect of the various banning provisions is largely assumed, and subject to very limited scrutiny.


Dr Clare Farmer lectures in Criminology at Deakin University. Her research interests include youth crime, human rights and police discretionary powers, as well as sentencing practices. She served as a Magistrate in England prior to emigrating to Australia.

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