More Than A Dozen Ill, 50 Charged After Music Festivals Drug Operation
A teen was allegedly caught with nearly 600 drug capsules and several people were rushed to hospital in critical conditions after Australia Day music festivals in Sydney.
Six young men aged under 25 were in critical or serious conditions leaving the Hardcore Till I Die festival at Sydney Olympic Park on Saturday while eight people left the Electric Gardens Festival in Centennial Park in an ambulance.
But by Sunday morning, all 14 were either in stable conditions or had been discharged from hospital.
Drugs were thought to be a factor in 10 of the 14 cases, NSW Health said. Each festival had extra high-level critical care medical teams and more harm reduction measures, such as roving drug educators and free electrolyte drinks.
NSW Police said 10 people had been charged with drug supply offence and a further 47 with drug criminal infringement notices after the festivals at Olympic Park and Centennial Park.
Police reported a 17-year-old boy had been charged with several offences after he was allegedly found with 579 capsules and more than $2000 in cash, while another 25-year-old man was allegedly found with 100 MDMA tablets.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian, whose government footed the bill for the extra protection, said she hoped and prayed people were starting to get the message to not take illicit drugs.
"I know some people are advocating one solution or another but there isn't one solution," she told reporters on Sunday.
"It's a complex issue.
"We want young people to feel they can have a conversation, we want young people to get help when they need it."
The premier and health department thanked staff and volunteers at the two festivals for ensuring attendees' safety.
"The additional critical care staff contributed significantly to the positive outcomes seen overnight," a NSW Health spokeswoman said.
Emergency Services Minister Troy Grant said the government needed to wait to see if the new on-the-spot fines for drug possession have any effect.
He said there was no doubt the police force's disruption of three large drug operations in the lead up to the festivals had an impact in the quantity of drugs in and around these festivals.
Extra safety measures will also be in place at hip-hop festival Rolling Loud at Sydney Showgrounds on Sunday.