The Australian Festival Association Has Implored State Governments To Back Pill Testing
"Young people deserve better. Older people deserve better. Families deserve better."
The organisers behind some of Australia’s biggest music festivals, including Splendour In The Grass, Falls Festival, Groovin’ The Moo and Laneway, have written to state and territory governments calling for pill testing trials and slamming the country’s current approach to illicit drug use as dangerous and “out-of touch”.
The open letter was sent by the Australian Festival Association and comes following a spate of drug-related deaths at music festivals around the country that have fuelled calls for harm minimisation strategies such as pill testing.
“We are deeply saddened to hear of the deaths at Australian festivals during the recent holiday period and our thoughts are with the families and friends of those who lost their lives,” the letter reads. “Our thoughts are also with the medical, festival, production, security and law enforcement staff who were on the ground when these tragedies occurred.”
“As festival promoters, the last thing we want is someone to be hurt under our care,” it continues. “We need to be able to legally implement preventative strategies, not just reactive ones, and include any harm minimisation tools that are available. We believe, and have evidence to support, that a combination of robust harm minimisation strategies will help Australians make safer choices and reduce the harmful impacts of drug use on festival-goers and the broader community.”
The letter calls on state and territory governments to establish Music Festival Regulation Roundtables, develop pill testing trials, and collaborate on a national drug summit “to allow in-depth, meaningful, expert-led discussion around drug use”.
“We do not believe that pill testing is the only answer,” the letter reads. “But it is a crucial part of a broader harm reduction strategy that prioritises people’s health and safety, over criminality or laws. 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.”
Pill testing trials have been backed by the Australian Medical Association and a majority of Australians, but has been dismissed by politicians including NSW Liberal Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Victorian Labor Premier Daniel Andrews.