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Parties

Parties are lots of fun. Meeting up and hanging out with friends can be a great way to spend a weekend. But things don’t always go according to plan. Uninvited guests, people getting drunk, and property damage are some of the things that may go wrong at parties and the consequences aren’t fun. So, 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 NSW. If you are from a different state, make sure you select the correct state under the link 'change state' on the banner above. If you want more information or legal advice about throwing parties and your rights and responsibilities, please send us a Lawmail

Avoiding Gatecrashers

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 your 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;
  • no pass-outs;
  • 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:

  • calling them on 13 14 44
  • going to your local police station or
  • logging onto the website MyNight at least 72 hours before the party and posting, faxing or handing it in person at the police station closest to the party venue. 

Remember to tell the police if the party gets postponed, relocated or cancelled.

Alcohol

If you’re having a party at licensed premises, like a club or pub, it is illegal for staff to give alcohol to anyone under the age of 18. In fact, in some areas it is illegal for people under 18 to even be there unless they are in the company of an adult responsible for them (like a parent). It is also illegal for someone under the age of 18 to consume alcohol:

  • at an unlicensed restaurant (unless you are with your parent/guardian); or
  • in a public place (unless you have a reasonable excuse or you are accompanied by a parent or guardian).

Although there are no laws that make it a crime to drink alcohol in a private home, if your guests are under 18, you can’t serve them alcohol unless you have permission from their parents. If you provide alcohol to anyone under 18 you might have to pay up to $11,000 and/or 12 months prison in aggravated circumstances (if alcohol is given to young children or there is a large amount of alcohol involved).

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. If you have guests who are planning to drink there are a number of options:

  • organise a taxi
  • offer them a couch to sleep on
  • organise a designated driver (someone who takes a night off from drinking to drive others home).

Drink Spiking

Drink spiking is against the law. This is when people add alcohol or another substance to someone else’s drink without their knowledge. In Victoria, it is against the law if you put a substance in another person's drink that is likely to interfere with their bodily functions, (for example, by putting them to sleep or causing them to pass out) and you can face up to five years imprisonment. It doesn’t matter if this was just a joke or a prank. Check out the Kids Helpline Safe Partying page for some great advice on managing alcohol.

Drugs

It’s illegal to have drugs at your house or on your body (e.g. in your pocket). If you are found to have drugs in your possession, you may face big fines or even be imprisoned. For more information on the penalties you could face for possessing or using drugs please check out our Drugs page.

Sexual Assault

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.

Medical Emergencies

If there is a medical emergency, you should call an ambulance on 000.

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, so even if the person appears to be all right, get help and advice.

Noise Regulation

It is against the law to make offensive noise’ in NSW. Offensive noise is noise that either because of its level or type affects the comfort of a person outside the premises. The most common complaint from neighbours is the level of noise at parties. The best way to avoid complaints from your neighbours is to give them some warning of your party. Leave them a note or tell them in person. In NSW, there are restrictions for the use of musical instruments and sound systems, which are common at parties. The restricted times are:

• Sunday to Thursday 10pm to 8am

• Friday, Saturday and days followed by a public holiday: 12 am to 8am

This means that during these times the volume must be low enough not to be heard in your neighbour’s house. If the police are called regarding ‘offensive noise’ from your house, they may issue a noise abatement direction. This will require you to stop the making the noise or allowing that level of noise to occur.If you continue to make or allow ‘offensive noise’ you can be fined up to $3, 300.

Injuries and Damage to Property

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 Being Sued page.

Emergency Contact list

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 000;
  • Local police: 131 444
  • Local taxi;
  • Poisons Information Centre 131 126;
  • Local hospital
  • A responsible person’s number.

For more tips on party planning visit:

Relevant topics

For more information or legal advice, please send us a Lawmail.

 

This page was last reviewed in March 2015.


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