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 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 Northern Territory. 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.
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:
- calling them on 13 14 44;
- going to your local police station ; or by
- downloading a ‘Party Smart’ form from the website and handing it in person at the police station closest to the party venue at least 7 days before the party.
Remember to tell the police if the party gets postponed, relocated or cancelled.
If you’re having your party at a licensed premises, for example a pub or a club, remember it is illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to drink or even carry alcohol. It is also a crime for anyone to sell or provide a person under 18 with alcohol on licensed premises. In fact, someone under 18 may not be allowed on the premises or part of the premises unless accompanied by a parent or guardian.
At a party in a private house, only a parent or guardian may serve alcohol to someone under the age of 18. They also must serve the alcohol with responsible supervision considering the age of the child, the quantity of the alcohol and the time period over which it is served. If the child is drunk this will not be considered responsible supervision.
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).
In the Northern Territory, it is against the law to spike someone’s drink. Spiking a drink is when people add alcohol or another substance to someone else’s drink without their knowledge. Though this may be considered a joke or a prank, it can be very distressing and lead to someone getting seriously hurt.
If you spike another person’s food or drink, by putting in an intoxicating substance they do not expect it to contain, you are guilty of a crime. It is also illegal if you add more alcohol to someone else’s drink than they would expect to be in there, for example giving someone a double shot when they ask for a single.
This includes situations to cause humiliation or embarrassment, meaning that just a ‘prank’ will still be breaking the law and you could face up to 2 years imprisonment. Check out the Kids Helpline Safe Partying page for some great advice on managing alcohol.
It is 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 could face a fine of up to $2533 or even prison. However, if there are drugs at your house and in someone else’s control you will not be guilty of possession. Control means the right to use or own them. For more information on the penalties you could face for possessing or using drugs please check out our Drugs page.
It is 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. At parties, lots of people may be socialising and maybe finding someone special. 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 all the details about the injury or possible overdose including:
- how much the person has drunk;
- 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, so even if the person appears to be all right, get help and advice.
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. However, you must also keep noise to a minimum, especially after midnight. Noise is the most common reason police are called to a party. ’Undue’ noise made after 12am on any day can be reported to police, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
What defines ‘undue’ noise is left up to the police , however things such as how much interference the noise is causing your neighbours as well as the time, location and volume will be important in determining whether there is too much noise.
If your party is judged to be creating ‘undue noise’, then the police can order a noise abatement direction to stop the noise. If you do not stop making noise after a ten minute period you are breaking the law and may face a fine up to $2000.
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 Law 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 000;
- local police on 131 444 ;
- Poisons Information Centre 131 126;
- a responsible person’s number.
For more tips on party planning visit:
- Northern Territory Government Parent Tip Sheet: Parties
Also check out our relevant topics:
You may copy and use this fact sheet.
This page was last updated on 24 February 2015.