BY TIM WILLIAMS
PARENTS using amateur waivers or consent forms when hosting school formal after-parties are being lulled into a false sense of security.
They are not legally protected and such documents can even void insurance policies in the event of a drunken accident, lawyers warn.
The state’s biggest provider of alcohol and drug education to high schools, Encounter Youth, says forms specifying acceptable amounts of alcohol should not be issued because they put “massive pressures” on teenagers to drink.
Parents say there has been an explosion in the use of such forms over the past few years.
One form obtained by The Advertiser specifies bringing a maximum of four drinks, that all bags will be checked on entry, that any drunk child will be asked to leave and have to be picked up, and that in a medical emergency, an ambulance will be called at the expense of the ill teenager’s parents.
Students are denied entry unless a parent has signed the form, which includes an option to refuse permission for their son or daughter to drink.
One mother of four said she had seen “a couple of dozen” similar forms over the past few years as her children progressively went through Year 12, while they were much rarer when her first daughter graduated in 2010.
Lawyers warn that even forms couched as waivers, denying legal responsibility for what happens at parties, would do nothing to abrogate a host’s duty of care to guests and would likely have very little weight in any negligence case.
Duncan Basheer Hannon partner Patrick Boylen said they were “close enough to useless” but might offer a slim chance of avoiding some liability, though only proof of adequate supervision would provide a reliable defence to a negligence claim.
“I wouldn’t have a party with hundreds of kids unless you have got security guards,” he said.
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