Parties are lots of fun. Meeting up and hanging out with friends can be a great way to spend a weekend. But things do not always go to the way we expect them to. Uninvited guests, people getting drunk, and property damage may are some of the things that may go wrong occur at parties and the consequences aren’t fun. If you are hosting a party there are a number of things you might want to think about beforehand, including:
The following information applies to the Australian Capital Territory. If you are from a different state, make sure you select the correct state under the link 'change state' on the banner above.
Once you decide to have a party, a good idea is to make a guest list and stick to it. Having people you don’t know turn up to a party can cause a good time to get out of control. There are a few ways you can make sure you and your friends don’t have to worry about people you didn’t invite ruining your night:
- Have a single entry point;
- Ask an adult to act as a security guard;
- Avoid inviting people online. However if you want to invite people on Facebook or email make sure the list is controlled by you and private.
It is a good idea to register your party beforehand with the local police station. If the police are aware of your party they can:
- Help you remove gatecrashers;
- Drive by to make sure everything is ok; and
- Tell you about any complaints about noise over the phone.
You can notify the police by:
- going to your local police station; or
Remember to tell the police if the party gets postponed, relocated or cancelled.
If you are having your party at licensed premises (a place that is legally allowed to serve alcohol) it is illegal for staff to serve alcohol for anyone under the age of 18. You must be over 18 to buy alcohol or to drink alcohol in public places including pubs or nightclubs. Anyone over the age of 18 that provides alcohol to someone under 18 in a public place is also breaking the law. It is important to remember that in some areas (adults only) of licensed premises, it is illegal for someone under the age of 18 to even be there unless they are under the care of a guardian or responsible adult. If you are caught in an adult only area at a licensed premised, you could be fined up to $750.
There are no laws that make it a crime to drink alcohol supplied by your parents in a private home. If you are having a party and your guests are under 18, it is best to get permission from their parents before you serve them alcohol.
If people are drinking, remind your guests it is illegal and dangerous to drink and drive. If your guests are on their “P” plates they must not have a blood alcohol reading when they drive. If anyone has their full licence, the limit is 0.05g . Generally this means you can have two standard drinks in your first hour and one every hour after that but will depend on your weight, size and alcohol tolerance. If you have guests who are planning to drink there are a number of options:
- offer them a couch to sleep on;
- organise a designated driver (someone who takes a night off from drinking to drive others home).
It is never ok to add alcohol or another substance to someone else’s drink without their knowledge. This can be very distressing and lead to someone getting seriously hurt. Check out the Kids Helpline Safe Partying page for some great advice on managing alcohol.
If you have any illegal drugs at your house or on your body (e.g. in your pocket) you may be fined up $7500 or face up to 2 years imprisonment. However, if there are drugs at your house and in someone else’s control you will not be guilty of possession. Control means you own them or have the right to use them. For more information on the penalties you could face for possessing or using drugs please check out our Drugs page.
It is always a crime for anyone to threaten to hurt, touch in a sexual way without consent or force another person to take part in any sexual activity against their will. It is important to remember that regardless of whether or not people are drinking at your party, you want to make sure all your guests stay safe. One way to keep each other safe is to stay together or make plans to check in with each other throughout the night. For more information regarding sexual assault please read our Sexual Assault page.
It is important that if someone gets hurt or drinks too much and it is an emergency you call an ambulance on 000.
At the ambulance’s arrival, you should tell them:
- how much the person has drunk; and
- what substances have they taken.
The ambulance officers do not have to call the police unless:
- the ambulance officers are at risk of danger;
- you request that the police attend.
In the case of a drug overdose, and you don’t know whether the amount taken was damaging, you can ring Poisons Information
on 131 126, anytime and anywhere in Australia for advice. Be aware that it takes a while for the symptoms of an overdose to appear.
In the Australia Capital Territory, it is against the law to create noise which exceeds the limits stated by the Environmental Protection Regulations. Noise which exceeds these limits is classed as being an “environmental harm”. How much noise you can make depends on whether you live in a house or block of units, the day and the time of day. Noise is the most common complaint by neighbours about parties and the most common reason the police are called. A good way to avoid complaints is to give your neighbours some warning about your party.
The level of sound is measured in decibels (dB (A) and is measured from the boundary of your property. In residential areas the noise limit on Mondays 7 am to 10 pm and Sundays 8 am to 10 pm is 45 dB (A) which overall is quiet. This is the equivalent of a bird call. On Monday to Saturday (10 pm to 7 am) and Sunday and Public Holidays (10 pm to 8 am) the noise limit is 35 dB(A). This is the equivalent of the noise level allowed in a library! On New Year’s Eve, music for a party can be up to 60 dB(A) which is as loud as a conversation being had by two people standing within one meter of each other.
If your party is judged to be creating such noise as to cause “environmental harm”, then the police can order a noise abatement direction to stop the noise and you may be fined up to a maximum of $1500.
Having a party at your house is a lot of responsibility. You take on a duty for the safety of all your guests so make sure items that can injure your guests are set aside. If your guest is injured, they may be able to sue either you or your parents/guardian for negligence.
For more information, see our topic: Being Sued
Have an emergency contact list drawn up and put it in a place where it could be seen. The list should include:
- Emergency: Police, Ambulance and Fire 00
- Local Police 131 444 or 000
- Poisons Information Centre 131 126
- A responsible person’s number.
For more tips on party planning visit:
Also check out our relevant topics on Lawstuff:
You may copy and use this fact sheet.
This page was last updated on 24 February 2015.