Victoria’s long-running Rainbow Serpent music festival has called on state and territory governments to “untie the hands of promoters” and allow festival organisers to offer pill testing services at Australian events.
In a video message released this week, Rainbow Serpent organiser Tim Harvey says, “If we are to stop these horrific tragedies from happening, we all need to acknowledge the failure of ‘zero tolerance’, and demand our governments consider proven evidence-based strategies we know will reduce harm and save lives.
“We call on state governments around Australia to acknowledge the global evidence showing the benefits of pill testing and to untie the hands of promoters and allow us to deliver world’s best practice care for our patrons.
“We promise, changing your mind costs a lot less than a human life.”
The video, which you can watch below, also encourages festival-goers to party safely and seek medical help if they or someone they know requires attention during Rainbow Serpent 2019, scheduled for this Australia Day long weekend.
“To out patrons who are considering using drugs at Rainbow [Serpent], we ask you to reconsider. The risk is very real,” Harvey says.
Harvey’s statement comes after 19-year-old Alexandra Ross-King died from a suspected drug overdose at the Sydney leg of FOMO Festival on Saturday. Her family have since called on New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian (who doesn’t support pill testing) to change her mind, following five festival deaths in six months.
Police said they were “disappointed” with a number of “serious offences” which allegedly occurred at Rainbow Serpent’s 2018 event, including drug possession and drug driving. A 22-year-old man died after reportedly drinking amyl nitrite at the event in 2017.
Australia’s first major pill testing trial took place at the Canberra leg of Groovin The Moo in April 2018, and discovered “deadly” contaminants in a number of samples tested.
Earlier this month, a number of Australia’s biggest music festivals released an open letter calling on state and territory governments to allow pill testing trials at local events, in an attempt to prevent drug-related deaths.