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Byron Shire
August 6, 2021

Amnesty bins to be used at music festivals

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Police at Falls Festival. Photo Tree Faerie.

Scout Wallen

Amnesty bins will be provided for festival goers to discard their drugs without the fear of prosecution by the police. 

This comes as the major part of the NSW government’s response to the Deputy Coroner’s recommendations following the inquest into the deaths of six patrons at NSW music festivals.

Although these recommendations included actions such as safe pill testing and a permanent drug checking facility, Premier Gladys Berejiklian said that amnesty bins will provide an easy way for festival goers to discard their drugs with ‘no questions asked.’

‘The recent deaths at music festivals are tragic reminders of the dangers of illegal drugs,’ Ms Berejiklian said.

‘We will continue to send the strong message that drugs can and do kill.’

Greens drug law reform and harm reduction spokesperson, Cate Faehrmann, said that this protocol will not be effective at reducing harm. 

‘The war on drugs has proven that a focus on getting people to not take drugs doesn’t work – if we can’t keep drugs out of prisons we’re not going to keep them out of festivals,’ said Ms Faehrmann.

‘It’s disappointing that amnesty bins are the only recommendation from the Deputy Coroner’s report that the Premier has listened to.

‘If the government was serious about saving lives they’d make reducing the harm from drugs their priority not their failed crusade of reducing drug use.’

Political parties are divided over pill testing, with only the Greens categorically in support.

Pill testing

An evaluation into the second pilot program of pill testing in the ACT was released on 10 December, a collaboration between Harm Reduction Australia and Pill Testing Australia. 

The Australian National University Medical School, Social Research & Evaluation team confirmed that the Australian front of house pill testing model developed by Pill Testing Australia reduces the harm for people that may engage in drug use at festivals.

The independent evaluation concluded that patrons felt more knowledgeable about how to prevent the potential harms of drugs after accessing the service and the service did not give a so-called ‘green light’ to drug use.

‘All those who had a very dangerous substance detected disposed of that drug in the amnesty bin,’ the evaluation read.

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  1. This demonstrates just how much the police, and Gladys, value the lives of our children. They obviously believe it is better to lose a few lives per festival, rather than to re-evaluate the outdated, unworkable and thoroughly discredited pollicy of prohibition, which has been proven to increase the risk of overdose and paranoia. Makes you proud to be an Australian, now that the wowsers and authoritarians have taken over ! Come the Revolution ! G”)

  2. Allan… As usual the same old rhetoric from the same old politicians. I firmly believe the War on Drugs has been a total waste of time and resources. We need progressive leaders in our entire country. It is not happening. Having lived through over 6 decades I have a sense of despair regarding political and policing attitudes to drugs. Very sad for our young people.

  3. How is an amnesty bin different to an existing rubbish bin?
    Why does Gladys think placing an amnesty bin at the festival gates will help people decide to throw away the drugs they purchased to consume at a festival? Without any intervention to advise on the quality or content of the drugs: it is just absurd! And hypocritical…. after she has repeatedly said her aim is reduce harm; and she won’t be commenting further until after the coronial has finished; then later, she’ll consider all the coroner’s recommendations.
    Compare that to what she said last week about Sydney’s bushfire-impacted air quality: “This is a serious health issue…..we will be guided by the scientific experts about the health impacts of this”.

    Bit like their attitude to climate science really, pick and choose bits of the science to agree with. Lies. Excuses. Spin. No actions of substance that will have any impacts.

  4. Prohibition, whether alcohol/sex work/drugs/abortion/gambling is the inevitable moral hazard promulgated by one group deciding that another group’s pleasurable pursuits are immoral.
    Drugs, in general, aren’t illegal because they are dangerous.
    They are dangerous because they are illegal and quality control is left to the criminal class with their well known concern for safety & well being.


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