'Potential To Save Lives': ACT Approves Pill Testing Trial At Music Festival
A pill testing trial has been approved at Canberra's Groovin The Moo music festival, with the ACT government saying it had a "responsibility" to explore the measure.
The trial, to be held at the annual touring festival's ACT leg in April, will be the second of its type to be held in Australia -- following a run at the 2018 edition of the festival.
ACT chief minister Andrew Barr announced Monday night that he had approved the trial to go ahead on April 28.
"Governments have a responsibility to not only try and prevent drug use but also to support initiatives that reduce the harms associated with drug use," he said in a statement.
Pill testing does not make taking illicit drugs safe and our message to the community will always be, don’t take drugs.
"However, pill testing provides a health intervention at the point when someone is making the decision to take a pill. By making this service available at music festivals there is the potential to save lives."
The 2018 trial led to several potentially fatal substances being identified and discarded.
"The data that came out of the first trial was incredibly informative for health and emergency services," Barr said.
"It provided information about the types of substances that are in the ACT plus it identified two potentially deadly substances in two of the pills submitted for testing."
"Given the increasing interest in pill testing, we consider this trial to be of enormous value to the debate and deliberations about harm minimisation."
Barr said there would be an independent evaluation of the trial results, which would be shared with other jurisdictions around the country.
It comes while, just over the border, the NSW government digs in on its opposition to pill testing, after a horror music festival season where at least five young people died after taking drugs.
NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian is sticking to a law enforcement approach, with new measures due to come into force in March -- which compel festivals to comply with strengthened guidelines around health responses and police on-site -- harshly criticised by event organisers and the wider music scene.
Festivals and artists have accused the government of "killing" live music.
"I can't say to a young person 'telling you a pill is safe means you're not going to die'," Berejiklian said last month.
"What we want to do, we're having new chill-out zones, where people can get water [and] help their friends get help, no questions asked, we're making sure the organisers have enough medical people onboard, and enough information for young people."