The Canberra Government has finally jumped on board the bid to provide free pill testing at music festivals, approving a trial at this year’s Spilt Milk Festival on November 25.
There has been months of negotiation between the government and Safety Testing Advisory Service at Festivals and Events (STA-SAFE) to provide pill testing at festivals, having already been denied for this year’s Groovin’ the Moo back in May.
The testing will be provided and funded by Harm Reduction Australia, who have done numerous studies on the effects of pill testing at festivals. The tests will be conducted in medical tents on site, where patrons can use lab-grade equipment free of charge, providing a sample of their drug to test for any harmful contents.
This is a landmark decision for the Canberra Government, and is the first time anything like this has been provided in Australia. The ACT’s Minister for Health Meegan Fitzharris told triple j’s Hack that the testing was “not promoting drug-use, but not condemning it either” and would be a service free of judgement.
The decision reflects current services provided overseas, especially throughout Europe, where pill-testing has been the norm for quite some time, such as The Netherlands that first introduced tests back in the ’90s.
Rather ironically, the decision comes just after Victoria Police announced they were increasing police presence and the use of sniffer dogs for the Melbourne leg of Listen Out.
Despite the new trial creating even more inconsistency in security at Australian festivals, it will finally allow the government to draw comparisons between the two approaches and make informed decisions about drug policy.