06. Managing troublesome patrons

It is important that venues have strategies to manage troublesome, aggressive, intoxicated or disorderly patrons. Having a clear plan on what to do reduces the risk of these patrons causing injury to themselves or others, and maximises the opportunity for your venue to be a pleasant and safe place for people to enjoy.

Minimum Requirements

Under the Liquor Control Reform Act 1998 (the Liquor Act), it is an offence to serve an intoxicated person, and to permit a drunken or disorderly person to enter or remain on your premises. A licensee can be fined up to $23,070 if they are found guilty of either of these offences.

Licensees and staff that supply liquor under general, on-premises or late night licences are required to complete a face-to-face Responsible Service of Alcohol (RSA) program within one month of first supplying liquor, and online RSA refresher programs every three years after that. These programs teach staff, among other things, strategies to handle difficult customers.

In addition, the Liquor Act sets out a number of options to bar a person from entering a licensed premises. These are:

  • Common law power: As a licensee, you have the right to refuse entry to a person, or ask a person to leave the licensed premises, as long as the reason is not discriminatory.
  • Liquor accord: If you are a member of a liquor forum, members of the forum may agree to ban a troublesome patron from the licensed premises of forum members.
  • Barring order: Licensees, responsible persons (any person who is in management or control of a licensed premises) and police have the power to issue a barring order that is enforceable by Victoria Police. Once served with a barring order, a person must leave the venue and its vicinity, and cannot return until the barring order expires.
  • Designated areas: Some entertainment precincts in Victoria are classified as designated areas. Victoria Police have the power to ban a person from a designated area or all licensed premises in a designated area for up to 72 hours by issuing a banning notice. See the resources section at the end of this chapter for further information.

Best Practice

Things that live music venues can do to meet best practice include:

Training and Communication
  • Develop a patron code of conduct and display it at all entry points. A patron code of conduct outlines patrons’ responsibilities and the conditions of entry into the venue.
  • Ensure that bar staff and crowd controllers are aware of the expectations, policies and procedures regarding venue operations.
  • Hold a debriefing for staff and crowd controllers at the end of each night to discuss any security issues and identify areas for improvement.
  • Keep a security incident register, review it regularly and make the necessary modifications to security management to address recurring problems.
  • Include signage and other methods whereby punters can report unsafe practices and seek refuge.
  • Ensure that a staff member with first aid training is rostered on at all times and first aid materials are stocked up regularly.
  • Ensure pricing practices and promotions do not encourage alcohol misuse or rapid consumption.
  • Ensure promotions and ticketing practices do not condone violence, harassment or discrimination.
  • Promote alcohol-free beverages, low-alcohol beverages, bar snacks and meals, and encourage patrons to drink water.
Crowd Management
  • Develop a crowd management policy that aims to defuse high-risk situations and minimise the potential for antisocial behaviour to escalate.
  • Facilitate staff and crowd controllers communicating about crowd behaviour by providing appropriate communication equipment.
  • Ensure that crowd controllers clearly understand their roles and responsibilities, including diffusing issues before they escalate and the appropriate levels of physical intervention.
  • Designate an area in the venue away from the main entertainment area where potentially violent situations can be defused.
  • Establish strategies for clearing objects that could inadvertently cause injury or be used as a weapon, such as glasses, bottles and chairs in walkways.
  • Consider installing CCTV at entries and queuing areas to assist in surveillance and deter antisocial behaviour.
  • Ensure that bar and security staff have a clear view throughout the premises. This might include raising the level of the floor behind the bar, removing promotional materials or furniture that obstruct the view between the entry and the bar, or relocating lighting controls for easy access by bar staff and crowd controllers.


Things that live music venues can do to meet best practice include:

Victorian Liquor Commission (VLC)

The VLC’s website provides further information about managing troublesome patrons, including guidelines on intoxication, responsible advertising and promotions, and barring powers.

Visit https://www.vic.gov.au/liquor-licensing and click on the ‘Resources’ tab.

WorkSafe Victoria

Worksafe Victoria’s Crowd Control at Venues and Events publication provides information about controlling entry into events, dealing with aggressive behaviour and coordinating emergency evacuations.