Researchers at Perth’s Curtin University want Aussie festival-goers to have a say in the future of music festival drug policy, so they’ve set up an anonymous online survey which lets punters share their thoughts on issues like pill testing and police sniffer dogs.
The ‘Drug Use At Music Festivals’ survey is open to anyone in Western Australia or Victoria who has attended a music festival in the last 12 months, and the research team behind it are keen to hear from both those who do take drugs at festivals and those who don’t.
The researchers hosting the survey — Professor Simon Lenton, Dr Monica Barratt and PhD Candidate Jodie Grigg — hope to use the results of the study to make evidence-based drug policy recommendations.
Ms Grigg, a Research Associate from the National Drug Research Institute (NDRI), tells Music Feeds that the survey aims to investigate drug use (including alcohol) at outdoor music festivals, while developing a list of recommendations to help reduce the risk of drug-related harm.
“The survey asks festival-goers about their history of attending festivals, their use of drugs — including alcohol — at festivals, motivations for using drugs, their positive and negative drug-related experiences and access to and barriers to health or support services,” Ms Grigg says.
“It also asks festival-goers about any precautions they take to minimise the risk of harm, the perceived availability of harm reduction strategies like free water and first aid, their experiences with police and drug detection dogs and their attitudes towards current and potential harm reduction initiatives like drug detection dog operations and introducing pill testing and drug checking.”
Ms Grigg says the research team is very interested in the experiences of people who choose not to take drugs or consume alcohol at festivals, because they can help to explain why some people are deterred from using drugs.
“We believe it’s important to have balanced input from all festival-goers,” Ms Grigg says. “Additionally, it helps to provide information on the prevalence of drug use at festivals — for example, what proportion uses alcohol only, what proportion uses an illicit drug, what proportion uses neither alcohol nor an illicit drug.”
Ms Grigg says the survey is only open to residents of WA and Victoria because a national project would require further resources. “Part of the research involves looking at the associated state regulation, processes and policies, and given each state is different, it was decided to focus on two states only,” she says.
In December 2015, a Music Feeds poll found that 83 per cent of over 10,000 respondents were in favour of Australian festivals introducing drug testing procedures at their events.
Since then, a group of politicians and health experts have called for pill testing and an overhaul of Australian drug laws, while some senior police and politicians are reportedly backing pill testing trials at Australian music festivals set for later this year.
The ‘Drug Use At Music Festivals’ survey closes at the end of June, and around 1,000 people have already completed the survey so far. Individuals who participate in the survey can also enter the draw to win a $500 JB Hi-Fi voucher for their troubles.
To take part in the survey, head to the Curtin University website. For more information on the research project, head here. The final results of the survey will be made publicly available on the project’s website in 2017.