Dance In Defiance: Mobile Protest In Sydney To Demand Pill Testing At Festivals After State Coroner Report

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“They’d rather see more kids die than admit their war on drugs is a disaster.”

The conversation surrounding illicit drug use at music festivals is a common, and extremely vital one – yet unfortunately all too often we find ourselves talking in circles, with no real efforts by those with power taken to realistically reduce the possible dangers caused by the consumption of illicit substances at festivals.

Government agencies tend to approach the subject with ignorance and naivety, with the majority of their responses toward illicit drug use causing extreme harm as opposed to genuine action that could prove the difference between life and death. The stigmatisation and lack of knowledge surrounding illicit drug use contributes to an increase in policing and law enforcement; yet it’s evident this approach is not working – and the continuing enforcement of a system that is not combating the problem and often times making it worse, is a serious danger to young people and all festival goers alike.

In Sydney, the crackdown of illicit drug use at festivals in response to tragic, fatal overdoses between the summer festival season of 2018 – 2019 is showing no sign of assistance when it comes to tackling the dangers involved with illicit substance abuse at music festivals; this is one of the driving forces behind a protest taking place this Saturday, November 23rd, entitled Dance In Defiance.

The protest, spearheaded by Australian organisations Unharm, Keep Sydney Open and Reclaim The Streets – is set to see sound systems erected outside of Sydney Town Hall before protesters move through the city. The protest, coming after a release of a State Coroners report last week, focuses on the necessity of pill testing at festival sites and a new approach to drug-related health problems – as opposed to the “just say no” approach pushed by New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian, with an equal emphasis coming from the NSW Police commissioner Mick Fuller, expressing concern that testing pills in order to assess their safety, encourages further drug use. Protesters are also tackling the intensity of the police presence at festivals in Sydney, which includes sniffer dogs and strip searches; many of which have also been described as being conducted unlawfully.

The intensive State Coroner report which you can read here, outlines the urgency of introducing new measures to combat the dangers posed by illicit drug use at festivals such as the pill testing described. Following suit, an excerpt from the Facebook event for the Dance In Defiance protest reads:

…key government ministers have chosen to ignore the inquest’s recommendations. They’d rather see more kids die than admit their war on drugs is a disaster.  That’s why we’re taking to the streets again to dance in defiance…

Dance In Defiance is taking place on Saturday, November 23rd in Sydney.