Punters at Falls Festival in Byron Bay celebrate Toto playing some of their favourite tunes on the third and final day of the festival.
Punters at Falls Festival in Byron Bay celebrate Toto playing some of their favourite tunes on the third and final day of the festival. Marc Stapelberg

Major music festivals ask for pill testing in NSW

THE Australian Festival Association (AFA), which includes Splendour in the Grass and Falls Festival producers, has asked the NSW Government to introduce pill testing as part of a push to keep events viable.

Event producers asked the NSW Government to open an off-site drug safety checking and education facility, to trial pill testing in a controlled environment "that gives people access to a harm minimisation service with appropriate health intervention at any time, not just at music festivals”.

In a statement signed by board member and Fuzzy Events managing director Adelle Robinson, AFA also asked the NSW Government to roll out the Music Festival Licence as a trial and for the fees for that licence to in line with current Special Event licences.

They also asked for; the roll out of a comprehensive online portal which provides harm minimisation training for event staff, patrons and young people across NSW; an off-site drug safety checking and education facility to be opened; and a assurance emergency service costs borne by events are negotiated ahead of time.

Music festival producers and directors will meet this week to discuss the Government's reaction and new regulations put in place after recent deaths at music events in NSW.

AFA announced they will meet this Friday to discuss the new Festival Licence and Interim Health Guidelines announced by the NSW Government following suggestions by an expert panel.

Ms Robinson said the industry forum will encourage members and the industry to provide feedback and submissions to Liquor and Gaming NSW and the Premier's department.

"The introduction of the new Festival Licence and Interim Health Guidelines has been too rushed and without enough consultation or consideration given to the impacts on the industry as a whole or the operational capacity each government branch has to implement these changes,” Ms Robinson said.

"Most significant changes to an industry like this would require a Regulatory Impact Statement to assess the real economic impact on an important cultural sector.”

The producer said music festivals affected by these changes have an estimated combined audience of more 750,000 patrons and contribute millions of dollars to rural, regional and urban communities in NSW.

"Last minute conditions, increased user pays police costs and liquor licenses that are issued less than 24 hours before an event have contributed to an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty for many event organisers.”



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