NSW coroner to recommend pill testing be introduced at music festivals Pill testing explained

| 15.10,19. 10:14 PM |

NSW coroner to recommend pill testing be introduced at music festivals

Pill testing explained

NSW cabinet minister Andrew Constance says he has serious concerns about pill testing, despite reports the state coroner is poised to recommend the Government adopt the policy.
A report in The Daily Telegraph detailed the draft recommendations from a coronial inquest into a spate of drug-related deaths at NSW music festivals in the summer of 2017 and 2018.
In the leaked documents, NSW Coroner Harriet Grahame recommended pill testing be introduced, and that police body searches and sniffer dogs be scrapped.
Mr Constance, the Transport Minister, said he had serious concerns.
"What we are seeing is young people at these festivals overdosing, dehydrated, and they're losing their lives," he said.
"So I don't see pill testing as the answer."
The NSW Government has previously ruled out trialling pill testing.
A spokesperson for the NSW coroners court said the recommendations had not been finalised, and that findings would be handed down on November 8.
Pill testing advocate David Caldicott — an emergency doctor at Canberra's Calvary Hospital David Caldicott — gave evidence at the inquest and said "saturation policing" could be a problem at festivals.
Dr Caldicott has been researching drug related deaths at music festivals for almost two decades.
"There's an abundance of evidence in support of pill testing, and saturation policing probably makes festivals more dangerous," he said.
Dr Caldicott said pill testing was "only controversial in the eyes of people who haven't looked into it and read about it, in the eyes of science and medicine these moves are not at all controversial".
Gary Christian, from Drug Free Australia, told the ABC: "The reason that we have deaths is that some people don't tolerate MDMA, and other individuals mix their drugs, and no amount of pill testing will ... stop them from dying."
Julie Tam, the mother of Josh Tam, who died aged 22 at the Lost Paradise festival last December, said she was surprised by the leak and urged for the findings to be presented positively.
"It's important that we look at any of the new approaches in a positive or at least hopeful way," she said.
"It's not to say that every suggestion or recommendation is going to be perfect or palatable for everybody, but I think it's important that we wait until the final recommendations come down and we judge them based on those."
She said the comprehensive nature of the inquest had been a "comfort" to the parents of those who died at NSW music festivals last summer.
Decriminalising drugs for personal use was not a "green light", she said, but would help to improve information for young people and allow them to dispose of drugs without fears of charges.
She urged the NSW Government to take on board the recommendations as an opportunity to try new measures.
"At the end of the day, it's about saving lives," she said.
"We've lost too many and we either stand back and go 'we'll keep doing what we're doing and accept that there is a certain amount of carnage that goes along with us making this stance', or we do something different and hope that we make something better.
"I would hate to think that we've lost Josh for no reason, but if we get something different, if we get some new approach and some changes that save one other child's life, then that's the very best we can hope for.
"That's the only thing we have left."


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