SYDNEY, NSW (CelebrityAccess) — In the wake of a series of drug-related deaths at music festivals over the last four months, the newly-minted Australian Festival Association has called on the nation’s government to reconsider their drug policies.
In an open letter, the AFA said that the government’s focus on abstinence and prohibition was “unnecessarily risking lives” and advocated for evidence-based policies that focus on harm reduction.
Those policies include allowing pill testing at festivals, as well as a “multi-layered” approach to drug education, health services and policing.
“We do not believe that pill-testing is the only answer. But it is a crucial part of a broader harm reduction strategy that prioritizes 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,” the AFA wrote.
Policy recommendations from the AFA include:
- Establish on-going state-based Music Festival Regulation Roundtables to ensure better relationships between regulators, medical experts, promoters, emergency service providers and law enforcement
- Utilize 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
- Work with health, festival and drug experts to develop pill-testing trials
- 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
The AFA’s proposal comes amidst a raft of other safety-related reform measures imposed on the festival industry by the Australian government that includes a new liquor licensing scheme for festival events that will go into effect in March.