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Know The Law

Underage drinking

Illicit drugs

Drink spiking


Underage drinking

It’s now illegal for an adult or a minor to give alcohol to someone who is underage without their parent’s approval, even on private property.

Throughout Australia, it’s illegal for staff of licensed premises to serve alcohol to minors. Except in limited circumstances in some jurisdictions, it’s also illegal for adults to purchase alcohol on behalf of minors on licensed premises. It’s now also illegal in most states and territories in Australia to give alcohol to anyone under the age of 18 on private property, even in homes, without the young person’s parent or legal guardian agreeing first. Anyone who supplies alcohol, including both adults and minors, to someone who is under 18 can be charged and receive a hefty fine. This means if someone who is under 18 gives alcohol to someone else who is underage, the person who supplied the alcohol can be fined. This legislation is called secondary supply law.


Why are secondary supply laws important?
Almost 40% of underage drinkers get alcohol from their parents, and only five per cent buy it themselves. So a good deal (55%) of underage drinking happens when young people get alcohol from people who are not their parent or legal guardian.

The Australian Alcohol Guidelines suggest that for people under 18 years of age, not drinking alcohol is the safest option.


Find out about secondary supply laws in your state:

Australian Capital Territory

New South Wales

Northern Territory




Western Australia

Note: South Australia does not currently have secondary supply laws.

For more information about the laws around alcohol and other drugs, contact the Legal Aid Commission in your state or territory.

More information about secondary supply.


Illicit drugs

If your child is caught with a small amount of an illicit drug, they may not be charged with a criminal offence, but be required to attend an education program or treatment. This is part of drug diversion programs that some states and territories use as a way of giving first time offenders help rather than entering them into the criminal justice system.
More information on drugs and the law.


Drink spiking

Drink spiking is often associated with a drug being added to someone’s drink to facilitate sexual assault. However, it’s more common for a friend or acquaintance to add alcohol or more alcohol than expected to the victim’s drink as a joke. Unfortunately, although the intention often isn’t to cause the person harm, there can be serious physical and mental consequences of unintentionally drinking too much alcohol. For this reason there are serious penalties for drink spiking including fines and imprisonment.

More information on drinking spiking


Please note: This information does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon in this way. The information is correct at the time of publication. For information specific to your situation contact a legal aid service in your state or territory.


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