A coroner has called for radical changes in the way drugs are treated at festivals after six young people died at music festivals between December 2017 and January of this year.
Grieving parents, a former police chief and a coroner have begged NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian to introduce pill tests based on & # 39; convincing & # 39; proof that it can save lives.
Deputy coroner Harriet Grahame delivered 28 recommendations on Friday after an investigation into six MDMA-related deaths at NSW music festivals.
She called on testing pills at festivals and urged the NSW police to stop using & # 39; harmful & # 39; tracking dogs at festival gates.
Ms. Grahame believes that a heavy presence of police and drug detection dogs at festivals leads young people to take dangerous risks with drugs because they choose to panic them to prevent them from being caught with illegal substances.
An NSW coroner has called for profound changes in the way drugs are treated at festivals after six young people died at music festivals between December 2017 and January of this year. (Pictured tracking dogs testing gamblers in Byron Bay & # 39; s Splendor in the Grass)
The coroner also wants to decriminalize the personal use of drugs and limit comic searches to those suspected of selling drugs.
Jen Ross-King – whose daughter Alex died of MDMA toxicity after visiting the FOMO festival in Sydney in January – called on the Prime Minister and other MPs to stop talking about their own beliefs and listen to the experts at the field of pill testing.
& # 39; I am just a grieving mother, but these are experts in their field who have been doing this for a long time & # 39 ;, she told reporters outside the NSW Coroners Court.
& # 39; Please listen to the evidence. I spent three weeks here and listened to it. It is compelling. & # 39;
Pictured: Alex Ross-King (photo) who died of MDMA toxicity after attending the FOMO festival in Sydney in January
Her comments were repeated by other parents of young people who had died from drug overdoses and the coroner – who said that medically controlled drug control was not a magical solution, but could reduce harm.
& # 39; I have absolutely no doubt that there is sufficient evidence to support an investigation into drug control at NSW & # 39 ;, Grahame said Friday.
But police commissioner Mick Fuller disputed that the methods of his troops could make the situation worse instead of better.
& # 39; It is really tragic for this and many other young lives to quit because of drugs & # 39 ;, Mr. Fuller said in a statement Friday.
& # 39; But any suggestion that the police implicitly have with regard to these deaths will be strongly defended by me. & # 39;
Mr Fuller said that the NSW Police remains committed to reducing the supply of illegal drugs throughout the state, including at music festivals.
& # 39; The community cannot ignore the fact that music festivals create a concentrated drug supply market and organized criminal groups & # 39 ;, he said.
Prime Minister Gladys Berejiklian reiterated that her government would not introduce pill testing, which was one of the most important recommendations in Mrs. Grahame's 180-page report.
& # 39; I have absolutely no doubt that there is sufficient evidence to support an investigation into drug control at NSW & # 39 ;, Harriet Grahame (photo in the middle)
"We are strongly convinced that testing pills is not the way," said the prime minister.
& # 39; There are many (other) ways in which we can of course improve safety, reduce the risk of death or injury to young people and there are certainly opportunities for us to look at it. & # 39;
Mrs. Grahame & # 39; s research investigated the deaths of Sydneysiders Nathan Tran, Joseph Pham and Callum Brosnan, Melbourne student Diana Nguyen, Brisbane who taught Joshua Tam student and Central Coast teenager Alex Ross-King.
They were all under the age of 24 and took multiple MDMA capsules on the day they participated in NSW music festivals in the 13 months to January 2019.
Mr Tam died of complications from the use of MDMA, Mr Brosnan died of mixed drug toxicity and the rest died of MDMA overdoses.
& # 39; It is correct to say that my part in this process is complete, the faces of these young people will stay with me in the future, together with the hope that improvements will be made & # 39 ;, said Graheme.
The coroner said the government raised a question of drug use at festivals with & # 39; fresh eyes & # 39; had to view.
Festival goers at Splendor in the Grass in Byron Bay in July
Ms. Grahame believes that a heavy presence of police and drug detection dogs (pictured) at festivals leads young people to take dangerous risks with drugs by taking panic to prevent them from being caught with illegal substances.
She was averse to clearly visible police and sniffing dogs that could lead to panic intake, double dosing and pre-loading.
The large-scale search for comics for young people at festivals was & # 39; of great importance & # 39 ;.
Ms. Grahame said police commissioner Mick Fuller took the lead when it came to investigating fines for drug possession on the spot, but that position was contradicted & # 39; due to his continued support in the search for revelers suspected of drug use.
& # 39; This is just one of the contradictions of the current partial approach & she said.
The coroner also recommended a drug stop for MPs and experts to discuss evidence-based methods.
She wants festival organizers to provide free cold water, sufficient chill-out areas and non-music activities in addition to other improvements.
& # 39; There are practical solutions & # 39 ;, she said.
& # 39; (But) while we continue to hide the true extent of drug use, it remains inherently dangerous. & # 39;
RECOMMENDATIONS TO PREVENT NSW FESTIVAL DEATHS
TO GLADYS BEREJIKLIAN (8):
* Facilitate qualified organizations to monitor front-of-house drugs at music festivals
* Finance a permanent community-based drug control service in the Dutch style
* Development of technology for advanced drug analysis
* Develop early warning systems for dangerous pills based on results of drug control
* Facilitating the sharing of data on drug trends between police, forensic investigations, NSW Health and the NSW State Coroner
* Consult with music festival organizers and other stakeholders to re-introduce minimum standards for medical and harm reduction
* Consider improving regulations with improved reception of mobile phones and WiFi at festivals and a central authority to approve events
* Hold an NSW Drug Summit that focuses on evidence-based policies to minimize user and community harm.
TO NSW POLICE (4):
* Remove drug detection dogs from music festivals
* Limit the search for strips to only those with a reasonable presumption of medication supply and where necessary to prevent immediate loss of evidence or immediate risk to personal safety
* Order police on-site drug control, and focus on drug delivery, non-possession, and emphasize harm reduction
* Train police on how to work at music festivals, including avoiding punitive measures against drug possession for personal use.
TO POLICE AND DEPTS OF PREMIER, HEALTH AND JUSTICE (2):
* The organization, financing and installation of drug waste bins at music festivals in case of non-decriminalization
* Development of strategies to limit the search for comics to suppliers
FOR THE HEALTH OF NSW (9):
* Introduce evidence-based harm reduction strategies for the treatment of drug-hit festival visitors such as ice baths and the use of a rectal thermometer
* Improve pre-hospital guidelines for drug-induced overheating
* Research into the way in which MDMA is metabolized and possible risk factors
* Expansion of the financing of peer support damage mitigation services such as DanceWize
* Share emergency information with the Emerging Drugs Network of Australia, an early warning system
* Set up and coordinate an annual overview of the guidelines of the music festival
* Update guidelines so that private medical service providers must revise procedures when patients die during treatment
* Work with educators to develop tools for parents to talk to their children about stimulating drugs taken at music festivals
* Promote existing guidelines for music festivals, including the involvement of artists in damage limitation reports
TO FESTIVALS ASSOCIATION (2):
* Develop festival guidelines that encourage the supply of free cold water, sufficient chill-out areas, activities other than music and involvement of artists in harm reduction measures
* Promotion of new damage reduction strategies, including new technologies
TO THE NSW EDUCATION STANDARD AUTHORITY (2):
* Add modules to high school curriculum about deaths at music festivals, with a focus on the effects of MDMA use, risk factors such as heat and the importance of medical assistance
* Order an evaluation, led by an information officer, about the best way to protect young people from potential harm and the ways to reach different age groups
TO EMS EVENT MEDICAL (1):
* Develop a protocol so that an independent consultant fully assesses the adequacy of medical care in the event of death.
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