ENJOYMENT: A big and well-behaved crowd joined Flume for the New Years countdown at Falls Festival Byron Bay 2017.
ENJOYMENT: A big and well-behaved crowd joined Flume for the New Years countdown at Falls Festival Byron Bay 2017. Marc Stapelberg

Music festivals request pill testing trials

THE Australian Festivals Association (AFA) has requested pill testing trials amongst other measures to minimise harm to young Australian people.

Music industry figures Jessica Ducrou (Splendour in the Grass, Falls Festival, Download) Matthew Lazarus-Hall (CMC Rocks Qld), Rod Little (Groovin The Moo, The Plot), Adelle Robinson (Listen Out, Listen In, Field Day, Harbourlife, Curve Ball) and Danny Rogers (St Jerome's Laneway Festival) formed the AFA late last year.

In an open letter, AFA asked state and territory governments across Australia to:

  • Work with health, festival and drug experts to develop pill-testing trials
  • Establish on-going state-based Music Festival Regulation Roundtables to ensure better relationships between regulators, medical experts, promoters, emergency service providers and law enforcement
  • Utilise the significant experience and expertise of the Australian Festivals Association (AFA) - the national festivals representative body - and appoint AFA members to Regulation Roundtables across the states and territories
  • Adopt an evidence-based, health-focused approach to drug regulation and commission further research into recreational drug use
  • Collaborate to convene a national drug summit to allow in-depth, meaningful, expert-led discussion around drug use.

AFA stated that it does not believe pill-testing is the only answer.

"But it is a crucial part of a broader harm reduction strategy that prioritises people's health and safety, over criminality or laws," the letter said.

"Encouraging drug abstinence instead of education is out-of-touch, proven to be ineffective and unnecessarily risking lives. Young people deserve better. Older people deserve better. Families deserve better.

"We implore Premier Berejiklian, Premier Andrews, Premier Marshall, Premier McGowan, Premier Palaszczuk, Premier Hodgman, Chief Minister Gunner and Chief Minister Barr to be open to better ideas and to work with experts on making festivals safer for everyone."

The AFA also requested a collaborative approach to the issue.

"We believe, and have evidence to support, that a combination of robust harm minimization strategies will help Australians make safer choices and reduce the harmful impacts of drug use on festival-goers and the broader community," the statement reads.

"This necessarily involves a collaborative, multi-layered approach of drug education, peer-to-peer support, pill-testing, health services and policing."

For details visit the AFA website.