Selling Alcohol at Fundraisers: the basics

At many school and club fundraisers for adults such as quiz nights, you may want to sell alcohol – partly to raise funds and partly to enhance the event. There are simple but strict rules governing the sale of alcohol – in most instances you will require a liquor licence plus at least one person with a Responsible Service of Alcohol certification.

I speak with Michelle who has been the Approved Bar Manager at many of her school’s recent events about what is involved in getting a liquor licence for a school event.

Occasional Liquor Licences

For each event where alcohol will be served you will need to apply to your local licencing body* for an occasional/limited licence.  They will gather certain information about the event including what it is, where it is being held, how many people will attend, how much alcohol will be served and how it will be sold (ie bottles or glasses etc).

They will also collect information about the applicant – who, in most cases – will need to be the holder of a Restricted Managers Approval, which means they will have needed to achieve competency in the nationally accredited unit Provide Responsible Service of Alcohol (SITHFAB009A*/SITHFAB201).

Depending on the size of the event, the individuals who are serving/selling alcohol may also need RSA training.

The cost for an occasional licence will vary state by state, and the rules might also be different depending on if alcohol is part of the cost of a ticket, versus alcohol being sold on a separate basis. Queensland schools may not require liquor licencing at all for one-off low risk events.

The time it takes for a permit to be approved will vary based on the size of the event, For example, a good rule of thumb is two weeks for an event for less than 500 people, and a month for an event with over 500 people. (If you are planning the world’s biggest fundraiser and are expecting over 5,000 people, it could take around two months for your occasional liquor licence to be approved).

Responsible Service of Alcohol certification

The Responsible Service of Alcohol course focuses on harm minimisation, understanding your obligations under the law, and learning strategies that can be used to help make sure that customers drink responsibly. A major part of the training is ensuring that minors (people under 18 years) do not have access to alcohol.

At a minimum, at least one person will need Responsible Service of Alcohol certification at your event. This is most likely the person who applies for the Temporary Liquor Licence (ie the ‘licensee’) but might also include the people who are actually selling the alcohol as well.

RSA training requirements differ from state to state: some states such as Western Australia, South Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory will accept RSA training that has been done online with a recognised provider. New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania will not accept online training.

Training (whether online or classroom based) will vary in both cost and how long it takes – it can vary from an hour to half a day. It is prudent to discuss with your school P&C or club committee to determine who will pay for the training – in many cases the committee will pay for an individual to undertake the training on the understanding they will assist with future school events. A quick search online quickly shows that some online courses start from as little as $24.

It is recommended that you approach your local hospitality industry body which will always have updated information with regards to legislation, and they will be able to suggest an approved course.

Can you be audited by the Department?

Within the school environment, it is entirely possible that you will have a visit to ensure you are following the rules. They will check on the function and liquor license application to ensure responsible service ‘boundaries’ are in place, and the approved manager is adhering to the specifics as stated in the license application. For example, they will check that the appropriate signage is posted and that water is freely available.

There are varying levels of fines that could be issued with regards to serving alcohol. These vary based on the infringements and are clearly stated in the posters. The main infringements are underage drinking and serving intoxicated persons, but there can also be issues for allowing people to consume alcohol outside of the designated area.

What advice would you give to a school or group who was thinking of selling alcohol at a fundraiser?

Prepare your occasional liquor license in advance as there can be up to a 2 week turnaround time.

Ensure there are a few people within your school or club that hold an approved manager’s license.

*Regulatory Bodies by State

(Vic) Victorian Commission for Gaming and Liquor Regulation

(WA) Department of Gaming, Racing and Liquor

(ACT) Access Canberra

(QLD) Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation

(Tas) Department of Treasury and Finance

(SA) Consumer and Business Services

(NT) Department of Justice

Author: Shannon Meyerkort

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