Calls To Shut Down Defqon. 1 After Suspected Overdose Deaths

But Harm Reduction Aus disagrees

17 September 2018

Article heading image for Calls To Shut Down Defqon. 1 After Suspected Overdose Deaths

There are renewed calls for pill testing at music festivals, following the deaths of two people at Defqon. 1 over the weekend.

Three people also remain in critical condition in what are believed to be suspected drug overdoses at the festival in Sydney on Saturday.

Hundreds of other attendees sought medical treatment, with NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said that perhaps it was time to ban the controversial festival from NSW.

“I never want to see this event held in Sydney or New South Wales ever again. We will do everything we can to shut this down," Ms Berejiklian said.

"I don’t want to see this ever happen again – young lives lost for no reason.

"I understand there were some deaths in the past, but to have at least two on one night when every assurance was given to those attending that it was a safe event – clearly it wasn’t when so many people have succumbed.”

Deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of the two young people who died last night at a music festival in Penrith. Of course I want young people to have fun at these festivals, but this particular one has had a bad safety record and now we have had yet another night of terrible tragedy. The number of young people who were picked up for drug offences is also quite shocking. I want to send the strongest message to event organisers. More needs to be done to address the serious drug culture at these events. Thank you to the first responders who helped save lives and get people to safety.

- Twitter - Gladys Berejiklian

Gino Vambaca from Harm Reduction Australia has told the Hit Newsroom that it is not a case of shutting down the scene entirely.

"What, you're going to shut the music industry down and festivals all around the country because people have taken drugs?

"That's like saying you're going to shut down every pub because people get drunk in pubs and cause problems.

"I understand where the premier is coming from, and that's a reaction people have...but it won't stop people from taking drugs or going 'underground' with their festival use.

"The reality is, what we found in Canberra - and this is replicated in a number of pill testing sites around the world - is that for almost half of the people, what they thought they bought and what they have is actually very different. And so they reconsider what they're going to do." 

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