WATCH: Rainbow Serpent Makes The Case For Pill Testing At Festivals

Rainbow Serpent Festival release a video with an important message about substance use.
Our eclectic team of writers from around Australia – and a couple beyond – with decades of combined experience and interest in all fields.

Festival thought leaders Rainbow Serpent have created a timely and considered video making the case in favour of pill testing as well as urging their patrons to reconsider taking pills.

Festival spokesperson, Tim Harvey narrates the four-and-a-half minute video that features medical professionals noting the challenges festival organisers face preventing attendees from consuming drugs, regardless of the resources that are applied.

“If we are to stop these horrific tragedies from happening, we all need to acknowledge the failure of zero tolerance and demand our governments consider proven, evidence-based strategies we know will reduce harm and save lives,” Mr Harvey says.

“We call on state governments around Australia to acknowledge the global evidence showing the benefits of pill testing.”

“To our patrons considering taking drugs at Rainbow, we ask you to reconsider. The risk is very real.”

Despite a full-time medical staff operating 24 hours a day, as well as security and a dedicated police presence, Rainbow Serpent still deals with dangerous drug use every year.

Blame is pointed towards an increasingly dangerous climate in the illicit drug environment. “It is evident our society faces are more volatile and treacherous drug landscape than ever before,” Mr Harvey says.

Emergency medicine specialist at Canberra’s Calvary Hospital and senior lecturer at ANU, Dr. David Caldicott has attended many Rainbow Serpent Festivals to observe medical practices and has previously stated the event sets the standard internationally for remote emergency medicine.

“Rainbow is very committed to reducing harm and the way to intervene with consumers is at the point of consumption,” Dr. Caldicott says in the video.

The festival emphasises its current policy of supportive, judgement-free harm-reduction. In this light, the video suggests the best way to avoid dangerous drug use is to avoid drug use entirely. “To our patrons who are considering using drugs at Rainbow, we ask you to reconsider. The risk is very real,” Mr Harvey says.

In related news, the NSW Users and AIDS Association (NUAA) is calling on the NSW Government to implement a pill testing trial at the ULTRA Festival (24 February, 2019) in Parramatta.

NUAA, a NSW Health funded agency with 30 years experience providing evidence-based harm reduction, runs the DanceWize NSW programme promoting festival safety. "We have been approached by organisers of the ULTRA Music Festival Australia, which will host 20,000+ young people in Parramatta Park on February 24th to support the establishment of a pill testing trial at the event," NUAA said in a statement.

"NUAA, Pill Testing Australia and The Ultra Music Festival Australia have contacted Premier Berejiklian offering to operate a testing pilot at this event. Our organisations stand ready to support this badly needed harm reduction intervention at the earliest possible opportunity."

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