Australia: Cruise company granted exemption for “schoolies” concerns

Australia: Cruise company granted exemption for “schoolies” concerns

The Australian Human Rights Commission has granted a temporary exemption from provisions of the Age Discrimination Act 2004 (ADA) to Carnival (trading as Carnival Australia), which operates 12 cruise brands including P&O Cruises Australia and Princess Cruises Australia.

Carnival Australia made an application for temporary exemption from provisions of the ADA because it was seeking to prevent events occurring on board its cruise ships which would compromise its ability to ensure the health, safety and security of its passengers and crew. Carnival's application outlined its particular concerns about "schoolies" (final-year high school leavers) celebrations and the risk of secondary supply of alcohol to passengers under the age of 18 on board its cruise ships.

As a result of the exemption, all Carnival passengers under the age of 19 on cruise ships departing an Australian port between November 1 and January 7 must be accompanied by a responsible adult. Additionally, a quota of 60 passengers per cruise who are under 19 years of age and not accompanied by a responsible adult will apply for cruise ships departing an Australian port between January 8 and January 31 annually.

The commission had previously declined an application for a temporary exemption from Carnival in 2009, which would have permitted them to operate an "under-21s" policy. That policy would have required all persons under the age of 21 to travel with a parent or guardian on Carnival cruise ships between November 1 and January 30 each year.

Though the objective of the proposed under-21s policy was to discourage school leavers from taking cruises during the traditional "schoolies" period, its potential reach, according to the commission, would have extended well beyond school leavers and included, "appreciable numbers of young people in full time employment or undertaking tertiary studies."

The exemption expires mid-2013.

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