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Every Music Festival Where A Death Occurred This Summer Has Been Deemed 'High Risk'

Every single music festival where a young person died of a suspected drug overdose this past summer has been deemed 'high risk' by the NSW government.

Defqon.1, Knockout Games Of Destiny, Lost Paradise and FOMO festival are included in a list of music festivals deemed high risk, released on Saturday.

Each festival made headlines over the past few months for the tragic deaths of one or more of its attendees.

Diana Nguyen (not pictured), Joseph Nguyen Nhu Binh Pham, Callum Brosnan, Joshua Tam and Alexandra Ross-King all died after attending music festivals this summer. Photo: Supplied.

Others on the list of 14 events include the popular St. Jerome's Laneway Festival, Ultra music festival, This That, and Electric Gardens.

"The NSW Government wants music festivals to thrive -- but serious drug related illnesses and deaths have demonstrated that we need to help make a small number of them safer," Minister for Racing Paul Toole said in a statement.

The government relaxed its stance on music festivals this week, ahead of a 'Don't Kill Live Music' rally attended by thousands.

One of the signs from the Don't Kill Live Music rally this week. Photo: AAP.

Festivals are determined to be high risk where a serious drug-related illness or death has occurred in the past three years, or where the Liquor & Gaming Authority determines there may be a significant risk of one occurring in the future.

Under new legislation coming into affect on March 1, low risk festivals will obtain a free licence, while high risk ones will pay a $650 fee.

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However, festival operators say risk assessment documents have still not been made available, and those determined to be "high risk" have not seen the guidelines under which they were assessed.

Operators of the 14 "high risk" music festivals were only alerted by text message late on Friday night, Music NSW says.

"The process has lacked integrity and transparency -- and there are just as many questions left unanswered by the government's latest announcement," it said.

More than 30 event organisers and industry leaders,  backed by NSW Greens MP Cate Faehrmann and Independent Sydney MP Alex Greenwich, sat down for a "crisis meeting" this week.

"There is widespread confusion about the details and impact of the new regime," a consensus statement said.

Already two music festivals -- Psyfari and Mountain Sounds -- have cancelled their 2019 events, while a third has moved interstate.

FOMO Festival, where Central Coast teen Alexandra Ross-King died, is among those considered high risk. Photo: Facebook.

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Toole acknowledged the concern and uncertainty among festival operators on Saturday, but said it's designed to support operators -- particularly those dealing with the "evolving challenge" of illegal drug use.

“We know that most operators, including operators of higher risk festivals, work hard to do the right thing – now they will have access to more expert advice and support to help them run safer events," Toole said.

However, Faehrmann rubbished that statement, claiming the legislation -- the details of which are still not clear -- will be devastating for festivals, urging the government to instead adopt harm reduction measures.

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“We still haven’t seen what the new licensing rules will entail but they will be onerous. They will be over-the-top. They will be expensive and may still drive many of these bigger festivals interstate or force them to shut down altogether," she said in a statement.

“These are festivals that bring dollars into regional economies, they provide hundreds of jobs and they allow homegrown talent to perform in front of tens of thousands of fans."

This week, an estimated 20,000 people rallied in Sydney's Hyde Park against the new legislation, calling for a rethink of the legislation.

Speaking at the rally, former Red Wiggle Murray Cook said it was "obvious there's been no consultation with the industry or any due diligence" in researching the effects of these laws.

"These proposed laws are framed as a response to safety issues," Cook said.

"Of course, everyone here would agree that safety is a very important issue, the problem with it is how the government's gone about it."

Which NSW Festivals Are Classified High Risk?

* Days Like This, Camperdown, March 2019

* Transmission, Sydney Olympic Park, March 2019

* Up Down, Newcastle, March 2019

* Defqon. 1, Castlereagh, September 2019

* Subsonic, Monkerai, November 2019

* This That, Newcastle, November 2019

* Knockout Games of Destiny, Sydney Olympic Park, December 2019

* Lost Paradise, Glenworth Valley, December 2019

* FOMO, Parramatta, January 2020

* Electric Gardens, Centennial Park, January 2020

* HTID, Sydney Olympic Park, January 2020

* Rolling Loud, Sydney Olympic Park, January 2020

* Laneway, Rozelle, February 2020

* Ultra, Parramatta, February 2020

Contact the author: abrucesmith@networkten.com.au