Following the tragic deaths of two young attendees at the Defqon festival over the weekend the NSW Premiere Gladys Berejiklian has announced the creation of a drug safety panel to address concerns at music festivals.
The panel will include Police Commissioner Mick Fuller and the Chair of the Independent Office of Liquor & Gaming Philip Crawford as well as other health officials to determine if festivals are doing enough to protect punters – something we’ve covered before and prove festivals are already doing as much as humanely possible to do so.
Other things up for discussion mentioned in the press release are harsher penalties for drug dealers and if new penalties should be created to punish those in possession or attempting to sell illegal substances.
A third mention in the release is for further ‘drug education’, something that top health officials as well as ex and current police have been calling on for years but doesn’t seem to be the focus over the consistently misguided ‘zero tolerance’ policy that has resulted in a costly system that is making near zero changes in the behaviour of those attending music festivals and choosing to consume drugs.
Something else that would have been a no brainer to even just discuss but was left out was the topic of pill testing (that was successfully run and identified deadly components at this years Groovin The Moo) and amnesty bins, that allow the safe disposal of drugs when entering festivals, an alternative to ingesting them or dropping them for other people to potentially pick up.
This comes amongst news that drug detections were unknowingly recorded twice for over 7 years by NSW Police in what could have resulted in over 80,000 false possessions and possible policy change as well as the skyrocketing costs and low strike rate of drug dogs that recorded at times, only 50% to 60% correct identifications.
It’s times like this it’s worth pointing out the safe injecting rooms that allow a clean and safe environment for those choosing to use drugs but also offer education and support for those looking to step away from drugs.
Ultimately everyone wants the same thing, for people to be safe and avoid tragic deaths. It’s just moving forward and using logical steps and tools to do so.