Australian Festival Association pushes for governments to support pill testing trials

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Following a suspected drug-related death over the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, the Australian Festival Association has released a statement pushing for pill testing trials in music festivals across the country.

In the statement, the AFA wants state and territory governments to have regular roundtable conversations with industry bodies and those who are on the ground during festivals, such as paramedics and police. The AFA also said regulators should “adopt an evidence-based, health-focused approach to drug regulation”.

“As festival promoters, the last thing we want is someone to be hurt under our care. We need to be able to legally implement preventative strategies, not just reactive ones, and include any harm minimisation tools that are available,” the statement read.

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

The AFA formed in 2018 with the intention of developing the relationship between governments and industry. The 2019 board will include organisers from Splendour in the Grass, Falls Festival, Groovin the Moo, Laneway Festival, Download Festival and more.

State governments have remained firm on rejecting pill testing trials, including Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews. The AFA wishes to make it clear that pill testing is not the silver bullet to stopping drug consumption at festivals, but rather a method of potentially minimising harm.

“We do not believe that 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.

“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.”