'I Can't Imagine What You Go Through': Emotional Scenes As Pill Testing Petition Delivered
A petition with 100,000 signatures calling for pill testing to be introduced was delivered to NSW parliament house on Friday morning, as authorities prepared for a long weekend of music festivals.
Senior Labor figures including opposition leader Michael Daley and shadow health minister Walt Secord met with petition starter Adriana Buccianti, whose son Daniel died from a drug-related overdose at the Rainbow Serpent festival in 2012.
A visibly emotional Daley reaffirmed his position to hold a drug summit should Labor win the state election, one which would look at pill testing as a harm reduction measure.
"Daniel would be 41 today," Daley said.
His voice choking up, he turned to Buccianti and added: "I can't imagine what you go through every day, and I hope I never do."
Daley, a father of four, said his emotions were driven by the knowledge that parents simply don't know what their kids get up to.
"When you see the faces of these kids like Daniel, who haven't come home -- they're not other people's kids, they're our kids. They're good kids," he said.
"So. I am emotional about this."
Buccianti launched her Change.org petition in 2016, but it exploded in signatures following the tragic death of Central Coast teen Alex Ross-King at the FOMO music festival.
“My world fell apart when police arrived at my door to tell me my boy had died at a festival," Buccianti said.
"There's no other word to describe it but horror. What devastates me further is knowing we have a way to help stop this madness."
Daley said his position on pill testing had not changed, but that he was open to hearing evidence it worked, pointing to injecting rooms being established after the historic 1999 drug summit convened by former Premier Bob Carr.
"People were furiously opposed to that, but no one could say now that it didn't work," Daley said.
"Community views move, and they change with time. Nothing is constant."
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has remained firm in her position against pill testing, saying she fears it would do more harm than good. She was not present at a demonstration of a pill testing machine by the Noffs Foundation this week.
It comes as authorities in NSW prepare for a long weekend of music festivals, taking extra measures where possible to keep young people safe.
Electric Gardens, Hardcore Till I Die and Rolling Loud Australia festivals are going ahead this weekend -- which unfortunately coincides with a heatwave predicted for Australia Day.
All three festivals will have boosted medical teams, additional free chilled water, larger shaded chill out areas and more roving peer educators in an effort to keep people safe.
Festival-goers are urged to seek medical tents immediately if they've taken drugs and feel unwell, said NSW Health's Dr Kerry Chant, adding that no one seeking medical assistance will face legal consequence.
"MDMA can kill," she said.
“If you’re at a festival this weekend, look after yourself and your mates.
“If you or a friend is confused, dizzy, too hot, vomiting or has a fast heart rate, get to the medical tent fast. You won’t get into trouble, health staff are there to help you.”
Meanwhile, in Victoria, police are vowing to crack down on illegal drug activity at the Rainbow Serpent Festival -- the same festival where Daniel Buccianti died.
"For anyone who is intending to take illicit drugs, we'd simply say don't do it," Ballarat Local Area Commander Inspector Dan Davidson said.
"Drugs are manufactured by criminals who have no regard for the well-being of those taking them."
In direct opposition to police viewpoints, some medical bodies remain firmly in support of pill testing.
On Friday, the Australian Nursing & Midwifery Federation became the latest medical group to call for pill testing.
“Supported by a significant volume of international evidence, Australian experts, nurses, doctors and others working in drug and alcohol services, are increasing their calls for pill-testing trials,” ANMF general secretary Annie Butler said.
“Policing and law enforcement strategies, while necessary at times, are simply not effective in preventing harm.
"Australia has an internationally recognised reputation in its approach to harm minimisation with regard to drug and alcohol use but we are falling way behind in our approach to pill-testing."
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