RSA for International Students

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RSA Infographic

What you need to know

Alcohol is a serious subject in Australia and the government has detailed requirements on who can serve and sell alcohol in the different states and territories.

These requirements affect anyone who sells alcohol on licensed premises face to face, are involved in the sale service or promotional activities. .

If you’re looking for a job in the hospitality industry, it’s likely that you’ll need to attain an RSA certificate.

Most countries do not require an RSA certificate. Therefore, you may be wondering why you need this qualification at all.

The laws in Australia are so rigorous that workers who serve alcohol to drunk or underage people can face fines of thousands of dollars.

However, an RSA can be a huge bonus when going to work into the hospitality industry especially if you hold a student visa. 

This is due to the fact that you’ll learn a bit about drink sizes, alcohol strength and when and how to serve alcohol.

It can stand you in good stead when starting a new hospitality job, especially if you haven’t had any experience of serving alcohol in the past.

Photo of international students toasting

What is a Responsible Service of Alcohol Certificate?

An RSA certificate is a qualification that you receive after completing a training program. 

This program needs to be completed and the certification attained, to legally serve alcohol in any licensed venue in Australia.

Once your training is successfully completed, you’ll receive your RSA certificate – statement of attainment, probably through the post.

You’ll need to hold on to this certificate to show to potential employers when interviewing for or starting a new hospitality job.

Why Do I Need an RSA?

You cannot legally work at a licensed venue without an RSA.

As mentioned already, Australia’s laws around alcohol are no laughing matter.

For example, if you serve alcohol at a licensed venue without an RSA, or to a drunk patron or person below the age of 18, you can be subject to enormous fines.

These fines can be up to $11,000.00, and don’t just apply to you – your manager and the venue will also be fined.

Therefore, it’s so important that whoever is selling and serving alcohol knows their responsibilities.

The RSA qualification is also a benefit for employers for other reasons.

The training provided teaches you some of the basic knowledge required to work in a licensed venue.

Drink sizes, alcohol strength and identifying drunken patrons are some of the included details.

Photo of an expert barman serving a cocktail

How Do I Get an RSA?

You’ll need to find a qualified provider to do the RSA course.

For international students, the provider must be a Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS) approved provider.

Although some providers offer online RSA courses, international students must complete the in-class program.

Finding a provider is relatively straightforward, by searching online. Otherwise, your university will have advice on providers to contact.

Once you’ve registered for your course, you’ll undertake a lesson which includes the following:

  • How to spot intoxication (drunkenness).
  • The serving size of drinks.
  • Case studies on when people have done the right or wrong thing.
  • Fines and penalties.
  • Times when alcohol can be served.
  • Where alcohol can be served.

How Much Does an RSA Cost?

The prices can vary from provider to provider.

Usually, an RSA certificate can cost you anywhere between $50 and $150. 

When do I Need an RSA?

You need an RSA certificate when coming into contact with an alcoholic beverage in a licensed venue.

Licensed venues can include bars, nightclubs, pubs, restaurants, bottle shops, events, sporting clubs and even some cafes which serve alcohol.

You’ll also need an RSA when working as a ‘glassie’ or ‘barback’, which is someone who collects and washes used glasses in a bar or nightclub.

It also includes working as a waiter if you’re carrying drinks to tables. 

An employer may request you have an RSA even if you’re not serving, just to be safe.

Photo of international staff at restaurant

How Can I Renew My RSA?

As mentioned, the laws can differ from state to state. 

Therefore, if you are moving interstate during your stay in Australia, you may need to renew you RSA.

Your RSA will usually be valid for about 5 years in the state you registered in.

If you’re not moving interstate, you won’t need to worry about renewing it for quite a while.

When the time does come to renew it, you’ll need to contact your provider and may have to do a short renewal or refresher course.

Best of luck with your RSA course, and happy (and responsible) serving!

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