As the NSW Deputy Coroner’s report on six music festival deaths recommends that pill testing be implemented in NSW, the ACT Greens have again called for a static pill testing trial to be established in the ACT.
The Government should develop a static pill-testing model in close consultation with medical and community groups to ensure that regular access to pill-testing is feasible and appropriate to the ACT community’s needs.
“I am not surprised to hear of the coroner’s recommendation relating to pill-testing. The Greens know that pill-testing is a successful harm minimisation activity, and a key step to save lives in festival environments,” Greens spokesperson for Drug Law Reform Shane Rattenbury said today.
“The NSW coroner is an independent judicial body that has today, after exploring the evidence in relation to the deaths of six young people at music festivals between December 2017 and January 2019, come to the same conclusion of other medical bodies – that pill-testing reduces harm from drug use.
“The evidence is mounting up. The AMA strongly backs pill testing trials, and there is a live conversation occurring in New Zealand even amongst conservative political parties, that could see the issues positively progressed.
“This year we have had the Pill Testing Australia Consortium evaluation of the Groovin’ the Moo pill testing trials; and the first interim report from the Australian National University evaluation team who are also evaluating the ACTs ground-breaking trial. Cleary, it is just a matter of when not if we see this sensible initiative become a reality, so I would be very pleased to see the ACT take the next step.
“We know that the war on drugs hasn’t worked. We must accept that despite all the efforts on enforcement and education, some young people still take illicit drugs. The right thing to do is to try to minimise the tragic harm and deaths that can result.
“We also know that people also consume illicit ‘party drugs’ outside of music festivals. We believe a fixed pill-testing site is not only possible here in Canberra but highly appropriate to deal with the realities of regular recreational drug use in the ACT.
“So far, ACT pill-testing trials have been run entirely on volunteer time, to ensure that fewer young people come to harm as a result of their illicit drug use. The ACT Government has contributed in-kind support through approval processes and partnerships. We now need a funding model that makes this sustainable, whether through Government funding, philanthropic support or contributions from festival organisers, given how important pill-testing is as a public health measure.
“In countries like the Netherlands, regular pill-testing is already the norm, with testing available at health centres on a regular basis.
“In potentially saving young lives, the Greens believe this is money well spent.”