Victorian parties renew call for drug testing after music festival overdoses

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Victorian parties renew call for drug testing after music festival overdoses

drug testing
words by staff writer

“Growing up and experimenting should not be a death sentence."

In the aftermath of multiple overdoses at a Flemington rave on the weekend, the Victorian Greens, the Animal Justice Party and Legalise Cannabis Victoria are intensifying their appeals to the Labor Government for pill testing across the state.

The Pill Testing Pilot for Drug Harm Reduction Bill, currently before Parliament, aims to establish pill testing services in time for the 2024 summer festival season.

Keep up with the latest music news, features, festivals, interviews and reviews here.

The bill outlines the creation of a mobile pill testing service for major music festivals and a fixed-site service for more detailed year-round analysis, with licensing for two years initially and the potential for a four-year extension following a review.

The urgency behind these calls has been renewed by recent events at a festival in Flemington where eight people are in critical condition due to a suspected drug overdose.

Last year, a coalition of 77 peak bodies, unions and health services signed an open letter urging the state government to implement pill testing and a public early warning system for dangerous drugs. Despite this, the government has yet to embrace the offer from public health experts to conduct a free drug testing trial at a festival this summer.

“We need to respond to events like these with action. Thoughts and prayers aren’t going to cut it,” says Acting Leader of the Victorian Greens, Aiv Puglielli MLC.

Statistics and research from various countries where pill testing has been implemented indicate its positive impact on harm reduction. In the ACT, where pill testing services are accessible, there has been a notable decrease in the number of individuals choosing to consume substances after receiving health information.

This suggests that pill testing not only provides a safety net but also fosters awareness and informed decision-making among potential drug users.

Animal Justice Party Member for Northern Victoria, Georgie Purcell MLC, adds, “Growing up and experimenting should not be a death sentence. But the reality is, far too many young people are not making it home from parties or music festivals.”

“The evidence is clear: pill testing saves lives. It doesn’t encourage drug use, it just simply makes it safer for those who do. And it’s time for the Victorian Government to commit to it.”

For more information on drug testing in Australia, head here