23.8 C
Byron Shire
February 23, 2024

Music festivals ‘ignored’ with new drug laws

Latest News

An adventure of a different kind

Two years ago adventurer Emma Scattergood discovered that a journey doesn’t always involve travel. In 2022, Emma was told she had stage 3 invasive lobular breast cancer. 

Other News

Plan for looming battery crisis

Industry-led voluntary schemes will fail to address the environmental risks arising from battery disposal, according to the Total Environment Centre, as they release a plan for urgent regulation to establish an effective, mandatory product stewardship scheme to safely collect and recycle all battery types in Australia.

Affordable housing summit next week

As the affordable housing issue shows no signs of easing in the near future, key figures in the housing, property, and finance sectors will come together to tackle the country’s housing challenges at the ninth Affordable Housing Development & Investment Summit

Bob Brown arrested in the Styx

Yesterday Dr Bob Brown was arrested alongside activists Colette Harmsen and Ali Alishah in a logging coupe on the edge of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. All three were taken to the Bridgewater Police Station.

‘Mandatory’ pesticide spraying deferred at Bruns pod village

Flood-affected residents have had a last-minute reprieve by the NSW Reconstruction Authority, who had planned to spray controversial pesticides at the Bruns pod village.

Delivering employment pathways for diverse women

Local organisations in the Lismore electorate can now apply for funding for programs that empower women from diverse backgrounds to thrive in the workforce.

Australian cycling legend’s legacy for Byron Bay Wildlife Hospital

The family of Australian cycling champion Sir Hubert Opperman has left a significant donation in his name to Byron Bay Wildlife Hospital to help it continue providing lifesaving veterinary care for Australian wildlife.

Music festivals are likely to be negatively impacted by new drug laws. Photo Jeff Dawson

The state government’s crackdown on drug use at music festivals is likely to have a negative impact on the organisers of these events, including local festivals such as Falls and Splendour in the Grass, the state’s peak body for contemporary music says.

And it says the crackdown is unlikely to reduce drug-related injuries or deaths at festivals because it focuses on punitive measures rather than harm minimisation.

NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian announced on October 23 that she would adopt the recommendations of an expert panel set up in response to the suspected drug-related deaths of two people at Sydney’s Defcon Festival last month.

Charged with finding ways to reduce such deaths at festivals, the panel recommended a raft of new penalties and regulations.

These included introducing a new maximum 25-year penalty for drug dealers who sold substances that resulted in a death, and on-the-spot fines of up to $500 for drug possession.

The panel also recommended that the government introduce a new licensing regime, requiring organisers to adhere to stringent safety management plans for their events, and establish an inter-agency committee to assess risk.

But the managing director of Music NSW, Emily Collins, said that the proposed changes had significant flaws, both in terms of the impact on festival organisers and their effectiveness in keeping people safe.

Though music festivals in Byron Shire regularly come in for criticism from residents in relation to noise and general amenity, they remain a major contributor to the local economy and a source of entertainment.

Ms Collins said, ‘Currently it looks like pretty much every single festival in NSW will be considered “high risk” by the indicators they’ve listed.’

‘This unfairly targets regional festivals (who might not have a major health facility nearby), summer festivals (as the weather is listed as risk factor), and small/boutique festivals who might not have the resources to comply with some of the high-risk safety measures.’

Ms Collins said that the recommendations would also add an extra layer of complexity to the ‘already incredibly complex process’ of organising a festival.

The expert panel appeared to have ignored the lengths organisers already went to in trying to keep patrons safe, including working closely with other agencies such as Councils and local health services, Ms Collins said.

She attributed this, in part, to a lack of consultation with organisers.

Panel membership questioned

‘Myself, two festival operators and an academic attended a 90-minute meeting with the premier’s expert panel in which there were about 14 other non-festival groups [but that was it],’ she said.

Significant questions have also been raised about the effectiveness of the new measures to reduce drug-related harm.

‘Given that most evidence suggests that heavy-handed policing doesn’t deter dealers or drug users, it’s unlikely it’ll have the impact they’re hoping,’ Ms Collins said.

‘Experts in this field say that a health-focused approach has the best impact on the safety of festival-goers, and not just drug safety, but general safety.

‘Unfortunately, if someone has taken an illegal substance, reports say they’re very unlikely to seek help from police because they fear getting in trouble.’

The organisers of Falls Festival and Splendour in the Grass were either reluctant or unavailable to comment when contacted by The Echo.

However, Bluesfest chief operating officer Steve Romer said his event welcomed ‘any efforts to make attending festivals safer’.

‘Bluesfest already operates under very stringent licensing regulations, including annual risk and safety management plans in liaison with law enforcement authorities, and will always support any improvements to licensing arrangements,’ Mr Romer said.

A spokesperson for the NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet said: ‘the current ad-hoc and inconsistent regulatory approach to music festivals does not ensure community safety and is a source of frustration to promoters’.

‘The inter-agency committee will seek to work with promoters to assist them in meeting their obligations.’

 


Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Even the media are not responsible enough to write it straight.
    There have been deaths from illegal drugs and drug taking and dealers could be thugs who prey on a place where teenager frequent.
    And the Government have not the strength to close it down with the strong arm of the law but have the weakness to let illegal drug taking to continue to deplete the bodies, the minds and the sinews of our young people.

  2. How many people die from alcohol related deaths every month?!? Wheres the bloody crack down on alcohol?!?! This is a money grab joke that will help no one….

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Police confirm two babies dead on February 11 in Mullumbimby

NSW Police have confirmed that at about 2am Sunday 11 February, emergency services were called to a home in Mullumbimby following reports of a concern for welfare.

Just what the doctor and nurses and midwives ordered

It seems like nurses and midwives are always struggling under the weight of poor patient-to-staff ratios. It is hoped that an influx of new workers could help ease the load. This will be a welcome relief for local staff.

Affordable housing summit next week

As the affordable housing issue shows no signs of easing in the near future, key figures in the housing, property, and finance sectors will come together to tackle the country’s housing challenges at the ninth Affordable Housing Development & Investment Summit

Lorikeets on the mend as paralysis season eases

A poorly-understood phenomenon where lorikeets in the region becoming paralysed and unable to fly is thankfully coming to an end for 2024, says WIRES wildlife vet, Dr Tania Bishop.