The NSW Government has released a statement promising to improve safety at music festivals by implementing recommendations made by an expert panel.
These recommendations come after New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian vowed to shut the entire Defqon.1 festival down following two deaths from suspected overdoses at the 2018 event.
The recommendations focus on improving regulations and licensing, in addition to strengthening drug and alcohol education, and providing more support for frontline health workers at music festivals.
“The expert panel has recommended that more be done to educate festival-goers about the dangers of taking illegal drugs and we will be strengthening our work in this area,” said Minister for Health Brad Hazzard.
The NSW Government will also create a new offence that means drug dealers will be held responsible for any deaths they cause.
“Together with ongoing, high visibility policing at music festivals, these measures will send a very strong message that illegal drug dealing and drug use will not be tolerated in NSW,” Minister for Police Troy Grant said.
“Drug dealers who prey on our young people, and seek to profit by peddling illicit substances at music festivals, are on notice,” Ms Berejiklian added.
According to the press release, the NSW Government will also trial on-the-spot fines for people who are caught in possession of illegal drugs at music festivals, rather than issuing a court attendance notice.
In response to these proposed recommendations, Take Control Campaign spokesperson and drug treatment expert Kieran Palmer says the focus on harsh criminal penalties and law enforcement actually makes problems worse, and that drug problems need to be treated as a health issue.
“Our drug laws are already hurting people and this is just more of the same. This is just continuing the same strategy that hasn’t worked for 50 years – why would it start working now?” Mr Palmer said.
“The fact is young people continue to get drugs easily, but don’t know what they are taking. Dealers are caught every day, but more simply replace them. We need to do things differently and take a health and safety approach. The measures recommended by the government simply won’t work” Mr Palmer added.