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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

Here's How the NSW Government Plans to Make Music Festivals 'Safer'

It will introduce on-the-spot fines for drug possession and new liquor licences for festivals, but it won't consider pill testing
By Libby Curran
October 24, 2018
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By Libby Curran
October 24, 2018
  shares

It's been five weeks since two young people died of suspected drug overdoses at Sydney music festival Defqon 1. A few days later, the NSW Government responded by assembling an expert panel to advise on ways to improve safety at our festivals.

Now, those panelists — including Chief Medical Officer Dr Kerry Chant, Police Commissioner Mick Fuller and Chair of the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority Philip Crawford — have revealed their recommendations, outlined in the Keeping People Safe At Music Festivals report.

The advice is mainly centred around three points: new liquor licences for festivals, improved harm-reduction education and harsher penalties for those caught with drugs. Pill testing, however, has not been considered.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has already responded to the report, confirming the government will introduce a new licensing regime specifically for music festivals, provide more support for health workers at festivals and will trial on-the-spot fines for anyone caught in possession of drugs at music festivals. The SMH has reported this fine to be around $400-500.

In a press conference after the report was released, Ms Berejiklian also confirmed that harsher penalties would be introduced for people who supply an illegal drug that causes someone's, and could see them spend 10-25 years in jail.

If you've been keeping tabs on the situation, it'll come as little surprise that pill testing wasn't even on the table, given the government's very vocal stance against the concept. In fact, in the press conference, Mr Fuller even labelled the idea of pill testing saving lives as "a myth".

Plenty of pill testing advocates have taken to social media to slam his suggestion, and the expert panel report as a whole. Most are citing extensive research that's been undertaken overseas, as well as the pill testing trial that took place at Canberra's Groovin The Moo festival earlier this year, as proof of pill testing's success as a life-saving measure.

You can read the full Keeping People Safe At Music Festivals report here.

Published on October 24, 2018 by Libby Curran

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