Calls are mounting for a thorough investigation into the deaths of a festival-goer at Stereosonic over the weekend.
19-year-old Stefan Woodward died of a suspected overdose in Adelaide, one week after 25-year-old Sylvia Choi passed away at the Sydney leg of the festival under similar circumstances.
Senator Nick Xenophon is calling for a coronial inquest to gain a thorough understanding of how and why Stefan died.
“Any inquest needs to look at the responsibility of the organisers, the role of police and health professionals and also any warnings that should have been given,” Xenophon told Adelaide newspaper The Advertiser.
“It seems that young people are playing a form of chemical Russian roulette at an event that was awash with drugs.”
The Advertiser notes that Attorney-General of South Australia John Rau has declined to intervene, but police have launched an investigation into the source of Mr Woodward’s drugs.
As The Australian reports, drug users posting to a website which is frequently utilised to check the safety and quality of drugs have warned that the pink ecstasy pill found on Mr Woodward is from a bad batch in circulation in Australia.
The tablet is said to have been first reported by a Melbourne man in August, who said that he and his friends experienced strong nausea, vomiting, anxiety and an increase in body temperature after taking one of the pills. “I would recommend everyone stay away from these beans as it may also ruin your night,” the man said.
It’s believed Ms Choi had bought a yellow pill stamped with a Snapchat logo and an MDMA capsule, and police believe this shows there isn’t just one bad batch.
South Australian Police Superintendent John De Candia says, “It just goes to highlight that there is no one particular drug that is an issue — all illicit drugs cause harm… If you want to be 100 per cent certain in relation to illicit drugs, the message is clear, don’t take them.”
Meanwhile, although (thankfully!) no one died following the Brisbane leg of the festival yesterday, paramedics report that 20 people were rushed to the ER to be treated for drug overdoses. Queensland authorities have told the ABC that the number of hospitalisations was staggering.
“We cannot express our concerns highly enough regarding the dangers of drug use,” Stereosonic organisers said in a Facebook post ahead of the festival’s Brisbane leg.
“We have tragically lost two lives to drugs during our festival and whilst every effort has been made to protect you and keep you safe with our teams of professional medical and security staff, …you as individuals need to make smart choices and understand the risks you are taking.
“As media reports have indicated there are various highly dangerous substances on the market and there is no way of knowing what is in them. Do not gamble with your life today.”
The tragedies have sparked calls for drug-checking at music festivals, with artists like Illy and Peking Duk both spruiking the idea, while there are also calls for the government to re-think its entire anti-drugs strategy, as the problem doesn’t seem to be improving, no matter how many police and sniffer dogs they throw at it.
So, what do you think? Should Australian music festivals implement drug testing? Have your say via our poll.