About the ABAC Scheme


Australia has a quasi-regulatory system for alcohol marketing: guidelines for marketing have been negotiated with government, consumer complaints are handled independently, but all costs are borne by industry.  The ABAC Scheme is the centrepiece of Australia’s quasi-regulatory system and is administered by a Management Committee which includes industry, advertising and government representatives.

Click here to download a list of frequently asked questions.

From the consumer’s perspective

Australia has one of the most accessible complaints systems in the world, accepting complaints via its online complaints lodgement system with no costs to the consumer.  There is just one ‘doorway’ for complaints – through the Advertising Standards Bureau (ASB) – which triggers two independent but parallel processes (see Figure 1 below).

Alcohol related complaints received from the ASB are all assessed by the Chief Adjudicator under The ABAC Scheme.  Some complaints may be referred on to the full ABAC Adjudication Panel and in these cases complainants are informed of the referral and sent a copy of the final determination.

Complainants who request confidentiality will be granted it and members of the ABAC Adjudication Panel are independent of the alcohol beverage industry.

From the companies’ perspective

There are four potential decision points for alcohol marketing, as outlined in Figure 2, below.  If the Adjudication Panel decides that a complaint should be upheld, the alcohol company or its agency must withdraw, discontinue or modify marketing material as soon as possible and no later than five (5) business days after the Panel determination or in the case of product packaging or marketing collateral immediately cease further orders.

The ABAC Code is not the only set of rules affecting advertising (and packaging) in Australia. Alcohol beverage advertising and packaging must also be consistent with other applicable laws and codes, for example:

  • Australian competition and consumer legislation;
  • the Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA) Code of Ethics;
  • the Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice;
  • the Commercial Radio Codes of Practice; and
  • the Outdoor Media Association Code of Ethics.

The Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA) regulatory guide provides an overview of advertising regulation in Australia.

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