The group behind the successful pill testing trial earlier this year at Groovin the Moo in Canberra who identified and disposed of two dangerous substances, say they can’t test pills around Australian until more state governments come on-board.
Those two dangerous pills were part of 85 substances tested that ranged from “quite pure … high quality” ecstasy to Polish toothpaste, muscle rub and even spray paint but ultimately indicated where possible people would test and in this case dispose of dangerous pills.
The STA-SAFE consortium who will soon rebrand to Pill Testing Australia in coming months is made up of health experts who are proposing a progressive stance when it comes to drug use at music festivals versus the currently overly expensive and highly policed enforcement that includes drug dogs that get it wrong 60-70% of the time and often end up arresting just 1% of attendance.
STA-SAFE spokesperson Gino Vumbaca told the Sydney Morning Herald that since the trial a number of other promoters had been in contact about pill testing at their various festivals around Australia adding that “We’ve been getting calls from promoters all around the country wanting us to do pill testing, there’s been a change in momentum,”
He reasons their want of pill testing by saying that “They do a hell of a lot of work in maintaining patron safety and protecting the health of patrons. While program like ours is not a silver bullet, it’s part of a suite of measures they’d like to have available. They know what we’re offering will reduce harm, it certainly won’t increase harm.” – see some of the things music festivals are already doing to keep you safe.
Unfortunately while they can offer pill testing and music event and festival organisers are keen to see the possibility of the testing at their events they can’t do much in the way of government cooperation adding;
“We can’t do much unless we have government cooperation. We’ve been encouraging governments interstate to contact the ACT government ministers and advisors, don’t take our word for it on how we operate and how effective it is, take their word for it,”
This comes even with NSW Premiere Glady Berejiklian saying she’d be open to pill testing if she saw the evidence following a spate of drug related deaths at music festivals over the last five months.
There is likely some good news this year with the ACT Government looking to approve the same application to have pill testing on-ground at Groovin The Moo Canberra in April that if goes ahead, will hopefully see inter-state counterparts join to see and understand the process.
To date those in favour of pill testing include;
Australian Medical Association
Royal Australasian College of Physicians
National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre
Former Australian Federal Police Commissioner Mick Palmer
ACT Chief Health Commissioner Dr Paul Kelly
Independent MP Doctor Keryn Phelps
NZ Police Commissioner Stuart Nash
Music event and festival organisers
UK Festival organisers
Majority of young people and live music patrons according to recent polls
Those in Sydney can head to a rally next Saturday that looks to show that people do care about the ability to test their pills and make informed decisions when at music events and festivals.