Music

Ultra Music Festival Is Pushing For A Pill Testing Trial In Sydney Next Month

"We encourage the government to act now to take every possible step to reduce harm in the community."

Pill Testing Ultra Australia NSW

Ultra Music Festival Australia has approached NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian about the prospect of holding a pill testing trial at their event in Sydney next month.

A statement was released by NSW Users and AIDS Association (NUAA) this morning — the organisation behind drug safety initiative DanceWize NSW — confirming they had been approached by Ultra Australia to support a trial at the festival at Parramatta Park on February 14. Both DanceWize and Ultra Australia then contacted NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian to consider allowing a trial to take place.

“Our organisations stand ready to support this badly needed harm reduction intervention at the earliest possible opportunity,” the statement read.

“DanceWize NSW has interacted with thousands of young party goers in a short period of time,” says the CEO of NUAA, Mary Ellen Harrod. “The views of young people are clear — the moment you tell them ‘don’t take that pill kids’, they switch off. They want real-world, practical measures that demonstrate that policymakers put their lives before politics.

“The DanceWize NSW team has been in operation since November 2017 and in that time we have helped hundreds of young people and done thousands of education sessions and saved lives at music festivals across the state. Pill testing is an additional measure that can be taken to support the health of young people but will only be effective in the context of peer support and education. We encourage the government to act now to take every possible step to reduce harm in the community.”

Following the death of a 19-year-old woman from a suspected overdose at FOMO Festival on the weekend (marking the fifth death in six months at music festivals across the state) the NSW Government has come under immense pressure to allow pill testing trials to take place. Yesterday, Sunrise host David Koch blasted Berejiklian over her “dogmatic” stance against pill testing, while Opposition Leader Michael Daley pledged to hold a drug summit if Labor were elected to government.

“Education is the key to keeping people safe,” Harrod continued. “Pill testing is one measure that will support education and allow young people to pause and consider their options. At the moment, it’s legal to buy reagent testing kits but we don’t allow best practice pill testing, a situation that makes no sense.

“We know pill testing works from the successful Australian trial and years of overseas experience. There is almost universal agreement that we need to do more to keep young people safe and the Ultra festival is the perfect opportunity to launch a trial of this measure in NSW.”

The premier has yet to respond. If you want to show your support for pill testing, here’s how you can do it. You can also sign the latest change.org petition here.

Ultra Australia will take place in Melbourne on February 23, and Sydney on February 24.