Image for Aussie Festivals & Musicians Urge NSW Premier Not To Shut Down Events, Following Defqon.1 DeathsImage: Defqon.1 / Facebook

Aussie Festivals & Musicians Urge NSW Premier Not To Shut Down Events, Following Defqon.1 Deaths

Written by Tom Williams on September 24, 2018

A group of over 60 Australian festivals, musicians, health specialists and industry figures have issued an open letter urging New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian to begin an “open dialogue” instead of shutting down music events, following two recent deaths at the Defqon.1 music festival in Sydney.

Premier Berejiklian pledged to shut down Defqon.1 following the deaths of a 23-year-old man and 21-year-old woman at this month’s event, and pill testing advocates have since renewed their calls for drug testing services to be introduced at local festivals.

Today’s open letter — collated by MusicNSW and signed by artists like Peking Duk and Flight Facilities, as well as festivals like Splendour In The Grass, Laneway Festival, Falls Festival, Download Festival, Bluesfest, Groovin The Moo, Field Day and Listen Out — sees the signees call for “an open dialogue about better solutions for safety at music festivals”.

Writing “in light of recent events”, the signees call for the NSW Government to “include music festival representatives on any expert panel established to consider health and safety issues at music festivals”.

“We are focused on ensuring live music and entertainment is a positive and safe experience for everyone, and the recent deaths due to drug use are heartbreaking and deeply troubling. The safety and well-being of people attending music festivals is of utmost importance. Our expertise, experience, skills and research can assist you,” they say.

“Recreational drug-use occurs in a variety of public settings. Placing bans on music festivals will do very little to curb the impacts of drugs on our communities but may push festival-goers to less safe spaces that are harder to regulate, manage or control.”

The signees urge the NSW Government to include music industry representatives in any conversations about drug use and public safety at music festivals, including the Government’s recently announced panel into ‘Ensuring Safety At Music Festivals’.

“We are the voice of music in NSW,” the letter reads.

“Please do not shut us out of this important part of the discussion. Together we can develop safe, legal, and practical means for ensuring festivals are safer, enjoyable places for all people in NSW.”

Read the letter in full, below.

Following the deaths of two people at this year’s Defqon.1 in Sydney, the father of a young man who suffered a fatal drug overdose at the event three years ago came out against the NSW Government’s plan to shut down the festival.

“There’s nothing wrong with festivals – it’s the bloody pushers who go in there and sell drugs to them. It’s not the festival that kills people,” he told the ABC.

An Australian-first pill testing trial took place at the Canberra leg of Groovin The Moo in April, with the program’s final report deeming the trial an “overwhelming success”.

In August, a $100,000 fundraiser was also launched to help support the roll out of pill testing programs at more Australian music festivals, following the successful Groovin The Moo trial.

RELATED: Pill Testing Might Still Happen At Spilt Milk 2018, Just Not On Festival Grounds

Open Letter To The Premier Of NSW

Dear Premier Berejiklian,

In light of recent events, we have come together to request the NSW Government include music festival representatives on any expert panel established to consider health and safety issues at music festivals.

We are focused on ensuring live music and entertainment is a positive and safe experience for everyone, and the recent deaths due to drug use are heartbreaking and deeply troubling. The safety and well-being of people attending music festivals is of utmost importance. Our expertise, experience, skills and research can assist you.

Music festivals in NSW attract 350,000 attendees a year (LPA 2016). They employ thousands of people, support small businesses and cultural tourism, and provide inclusive spaces for many different communities to come together for a positive experience. They are vital not just to the NSW economy, but also to the social and cultural vibrancy of our cities and towns.

Recreational drug-use occurs in a variety of public settings. Placing bans on music festivals will do very little to curb the impacts of drugs on our communities but may push festival-goers to less safe spaces that are harder to regulate, manage or control.

Any attempt to address concerns about drug use and public safety at music festivals cannot be effective unless music industry representatives are part of the conversation. We already work collaboratively and successfully with numerous state and local authorities and we request that this collaboration extends to participation in, and consultation with, the NSW Government’s ‘Ensuring Safety at Music Festivals’ panel.

We also request that any expert panel meet with the following in order to work together on an effective, strategic and collaborative approach to festival safety;

  • music industry representatives
  • health and safety specialists
  • experts in drug research and policy development

We are the voice of music in NSW. Please do not shut us out of this important part of the discussion. Together we can develop safe, legal, and practical means for ensuring festivals are safer, enjoyable places for all people in NSW.

Regards,

MusicNSW

Signees:

Alex The Astronaut

Architects of Entertainment

Australian Drug Law Reform Initiative

Australian Music Industry Network (AMIN)

BBE – FOMO Festival

Ben Mostyn, Founding member Australian Drug Law Reform Initiative

Byron Bay Bluesfest

Cattleyard Promotions – Groovin the Moo

Chugg Entertainment

Cloud Control

Crowd Manager

Dashville – The Gum Ball, Dashville Skyline

Dr Bianca Fileborn, Lecturer Criminology (UNSW Sydney)

Dr Caitlin Hughes, Criminologist and Senior Research Fellow (UNSW National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre)

Dr Monica Barratt, Social Scientist and Senior Research Fellow (UNSW National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre)

Dr Phillip Wadds, Lecturer Criminology (UNSW Sydney)

Dr Will Tregoning, Executive Director, Unharm

DSEM

Electronic Music Conference

FBi Radio

Field Day New Year’s Day

Finely Tuned Productions

Flagmen

Flight Facilities

Force Events

Fuzzy Operations – Listen Out, Harbourlife,
Curve Ball

GAS Audio Services

Good Things Festival

Hamiltons Hospitality

Handsome Tours – Fairgrounds

Hardware Corporation

Heaps Gay

Helen Gibbon, Foundation member Australian Drug Law Reform Initiative

Hermitude

Humm

ISEC SECURITY

KLP

Lost Paradise

Lucky Seven Co – Output Festival

MJR Presents – Sydney Summer Series

Morse Code PR

Ms Michala Kowalski, Research Assistant Drug Policy Modelling Program (UNSW National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre)

Nina Las Vegas – NLV Records

NYE in The Park

One Day Entertainment – One Day Sundays

Peking Duk

Pure Music Co

R-Events

R-Training

Red Square Music – Mullum Music Festival, Bello Winter Music

Reddawn Australia

Reddawn Group

RSA Marshals

Rubin Events

Secret Sounds – Splendour In the Grass, Falls Festival, Download Festival

Secure Events and Assets

Set Mo

SLAM (Save Live Australia’s Music)

Spectator Safety

St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival

Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras

This That Festival

Thundamentals

Ultra Australia

Verandah Productions – Secret Garden Festival

Wine Machine

Yours & Owls

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