The harm reduction groups responsible for Australia’s first pill testing trial have offered to host a free pilot program in Tasmania.
Pill Testing Australia have made the offer to all state and territories governments, in response to a number of drug-related deaths at mainland music festivals in recent months.
Dr David Caldicott, an emergency medicine specialist and Pill Testing Australia member, said any government serious about harm minimisation should take the offer up.
“Governments need to see first hand how pill testing will help keep young people safer and reduce the death toll,” Dr Caldicott said.
“That’s why we are offering a free pilot pill testing program to any state or territory government that wants to examine the evidence.
“Any government that is truly serious about keeping their young people safe should take it up.”
Australia’s only pill testing trial to date was conducted at Canberra’s Groovin the Moo Festival in April, 2018.
Earlier this month, Tasmania’s Party in the Paddock organisers announced their plans to offer a high-grade, professionally facilitated pill testing at the 2020 event, but acknowledge it did not have government support.
Health Minister Michel Ferguson has previously said pill testing trials sent a dangerous message, with the state government maintaining its zero-tolerance approach to all illicit drugs.
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- Alcohol, Tobacco and other Drugs Council of Tasmania supports pill testing at festivals
- Royal Australasian College of Physicians urges Tasmanian Government to support pill testing
Harm Reduction Australia president Gino Vumbaca said pill testing was a practical step to help control the problem.
“The hard truth is that decades of a punitive approach where we focus on arresting young people has not worked,” he said.
“It is time to take practical steps to make parties and festivals safer for our kids.
“Pill testing is not a silver bullet but its a practical step we can take to get more control of the problem.”
Take Control spokesman Matt Noffs said all governments had a responsibility to end festival deaths.
“This is a medical intervention and it’s about having a doctor in a tent at every festival,” he said.
“It’s an intervention, a final safety net when, despite every measure, despite the police gauntlet, these kids are about to take drugs.”
“Governments around Australia have a responsibility to end festival deaths with all the available evidence, and that includes pill testing.
“Every government should take Pill Testing Australia’s offer up.”
The state government has been contacted for comment.
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