18 people admitted to hospital, 73 people arrested.
Festival season kicked off over the weekend in Sydney, with Listen Out and Knock Out taking place on Saturday the 1st of October. The festivals both draw crowds in the tens of thousands.
18 punters were admitted to hospital over an alleged drug overdose between the two festivals, 73 people were arrested for drug possession and three were arrested for supply of illegal drugs.
The only drug safety policy at the festivals was an offering of amnesty bins for attendees to be able to throw out their drugs without getting arrested. That initiative was implemented based off a recommendation from a coronial inquest into drug-related deaths at music festivals. All the other recommendations were rejected however, which includes getting rid of sniffer dogs, reducing the use of strip searches and introducing pill testing.
In May of this year the National Drug And Alcohol Research Centre released a report that suggest that one in three young people who attended large music festivals reported that a reason they would not seek help in a drug health emergency is fear of getting in trouble by police.
Co-author of the study and drug and alcohol specialist Dr Jonathan Brett commented, “We need to rethink the black-and-white policy of ‘say no to drugs’.
“They are hypothetical situations ... but the power of the study is they were reporting it at the event, so they were in that frame of mind.
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“Reform doesn’t have to be about pill testing, but it should focus on a harm-reduction approach rather than a punitive one."