Pill testing push for upcoming GTM

Photo: Shannon Pearce

Experts have renewed calls for pill testing ahead of the Groovin the Moo festival in Bunbury this weekend.

Australia’s second pill testing trial was held earlier this year at Groovin the Moo in Canberra.

The ACT is the only state or territory to allow pill testing in Australia.

The trial was declared a success, with seven potentially deadly substances identified.

Patrons discarded their drugs after finding out they were dangerous.

Curtin University’s National Drug Research Institute director Simon Lenton said the trials showed the potential of pill testing.

“I think the two trials that have been done in Canberra had their limitations, but they are important as proof of concept demonstration projects,” Professor Lenton said.

“They show that pill testing can be done effectively at Australian music festivals.”

Professor Lenton said pill testing was important because other preventative measures were not working.

“Research that we and others have done with people who have attended Australian music festivals shows that between 60 and 65 per cent of people say that they used illicit drugs at the last festival they attended,” he said.

“That’s important in terms of you’ve got a group of people, many of whom decided to use an illicit drug despite sniffer dogs, despite the threat of being apprehended and so on, and that’s kind of the reality we have to deal with.

“While pill testing isn’t going to prevent every death or adverse outcome, we think it’s highly likely to reduce harm, based on international evidence, and that we should be doing a robust trial of it here in Australia.”

Groovin the Moo representative Janelle Morse said the company behind the festival, Cattleyard Promotions, was open to facilitating pill testing at their other events in the future.

“Cattleyard strongly supports harm minimisation strategies and we welcome the return of pill testing at GTM Canberra,” she said.

“At this stage, pill testing will not be conducted at any other GTM event.

“If other jurisdictions would like to discuss running a trial in their state, they can seek consultation with Cattleyard through their respective stakeholders.”

Professor Lenton said the likelihood of pill testing being implemented in Western Australia was low, but it was a ‘movable space’.

“I think what we’ve seen is that things are changing quite quickly and I’m sure, as things continue to change, we’ll get to a point in all states and territories around the country where the good sense in trialling this and getting some hard evidence will be apparent to everybody,” he said.

Bands performing at previous Groovin the Moo events.
Video: Shannon Pearce

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