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8 Nov. 2019

NSW Coroner recommends Premier and Cabinet permits and facilitates front of house medically supervised drug checking

The NSW Coroner has released the findings of the inquest into the feath of six patrons of NSW music festivals. To read her recommendations to the NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet, please read below:

  1. That the Department of Premier and Cabinet permits and facilitates Pill Testing Australia, The Loop Australia, or another similarly qualified organisation to run front of house medically supervised pill testing/drug checking at music festivals in NSW with a pilot date starting the summer of 2019–20.
  2. That the Department of Premier and Cabinet, working with NSW Health and NSW Police, fund the establishment of a permanent drug checking facility, similar to the Dutch model known as the Drug Information Monitoring System (DIMS).
  3. That the Department of Premier and Cabinet, working with NSW Health, research and support the development of technology to allow for the most sophisticated and detailed drug analysis to be made available on site at music festivals.
  4. That the Department of Premier and Cabinet, working with NSW Health, research and support the development of early warning systems at music festivals generally and arising from front of house and/or back of house drug checking. 
  5. That the Department of Premier and Cabinet, working with the NSW State Coroner, NSW Police, FASS and NSW Health, develop protocols for the open sharing of information between these agencies regarding drug trends and monitoring of drug deaths.
  6. That the Department of Premier and Cabinet facilitate a regulatory roundtable with the involvement of relevant State and Local government and key industry stakeholders, including the Department of Health, private health providers such as EMS Event Medical, NSW Ambulance and NSW Police, the Australian Festivals Association, harm minimisation experts and promoters, to ensure appropriate minimum standards for policing, medical services and harm reduction are mandated at music festivals. 
  7. That in developing any new music festival regulations the Department of Premier and Cabinet, working with the Australian Festivals Association and other relevant stakeholders, give consideration to the submission of the family of Joshua Tam (MFI-C). 
  8. That the Department of Premier and Cabinet facilitate the holding of a NSW Drug Summit to develop drug policy that is evidence -based and focused on minimising harm to users and 136 the community (previously recommended in the Opiates Inquest examining six deaths – findings delivered on 1 March 2019), the Department should give full and genuine consideration to, among other issues:

    a. The development of a best practice model of and guidelines for drug checking/pill testing including for front of house operations at music festivals and fixed site services operating in the community.
    b. Targeted education programs, designed for different age groups, with a focus on harm minimisation with respect to stimulant drugs at music festivals.
    c. Decriminalising personal use of drugs, as a mechanism to reduce the harm caused by drug use.
    d. Expanded regulation of certain currently illicit drugs.
    e. Redefining illicit drugs as primarily a health and social issue rather than primarily a law enforcement issue, and the implementation of law and policy that best achieves that goal. 

For more of the recommendations and to read the entire report, please click here.