Party in the Paddock plan to offer a high-grade, professionally facilitated pill testing at the 2020 event, but acknowledge it does not have government support.
Party in the Paddock creative director Jesse Higgs said now was the time to put pressure on the people who make those decisions.
“We will need support on a government level. But we have initiated the conversation with Harm Reduction Australia, who we think will be instrumental in enabling us to provide this harm minimisation tool,” Mr Higgs said.
Organisers wanted to offer pill testing at this year’s event.
“We sincerely hope that the laws around this will change soon as we have come to the belief that pill testing has a huge role to play in event harm minimisation, alongside education and other preventative measures,” Mr Higgs said.
We have come to the belief that pill testing has a huge role to play in event harm minimisation.Jesse Higgs
“A key aspect of pill testing is that it also enables health professionals direct access to patrons at a critical time. It gives them the opportunity to counsel them and offer information that could save their life.”
The festival has been working with Dance Wize in the lead up to the 2019 event. The Victorian-based harm reduction agency has provided the festival with a number of resources, which will help people make informed decisions, organisers said.
“These resources will be available at the Info Booth. We are currently doing all that we can to make our patrons safe and we want to be able to educate and encourage everyone to make safe choices. We are using our social media and other avenues to really encourage this,” Mr Higgs said.
Festival organisers are asking patrons to take care of themselves and others at this year’s event.
“We don’t condone drug taking at PITP. In an effort to minimise the presence of dangerous drugs at PITP, police and security conduct extensive searches at entry points,” Mr Higgs said.
“However, we’re aware that these items may still have a presence, regardless of these searches.”
If a dangerous substance is identified at the festival, warning messages through festival communication systems, such as the big screen at the main stage, text messages and app notifications, will be used.
“PITP is a community and we need to look out for each other. It can be hot during the day and cold at night so make sure you stay hydrated,” Mr Higgs said.
“Know the signs and act quickly if you see them - fluctuating body temperature, collapse, fitting, vomiting, altered state of mind, rapid breathing, sweating, difficulty communicating, unconsciousness or simply feeling unwell.”
The state government has previously dismissed supporting pill testing.