Latest News

Back to Latest News back


NSW Coroner recommends introduction of pill testing and banning sniffer dogs at festivals

NSW Coroner recommends introduction of pill testing and banning sniffer dogs at festivals
November 8, 2019

The inquest investigating the drug-related deaths of six young people, aged 18 to 23, at NSW music festivals over two summers has seen Deputy NSW coroner Harriet Grahame recommend pill testing be conducted in NSW, along with decriminalising personal drug use and the scrapping of drug detection dogs at music festivals.

Delivering her findings today (Friday 8th November) Grahame noted there was compelling evidence to support pill testing, which could prompt behavioural change and advised that "drug checking is simply an evidence-based harm reduction strategy that should be trialled as soon as possible in NSW.”

Grahame also advised that high-visibility and punitive policing operations at festivals had inherent dangers and few if any benefits, recommending that drug detection dogs be scrapped. Referring to the evidence, Grahame noted a heavy police presence with sniffer dogs could be intimidating and lead to panic ingestion and dangerous preloading, increasing the risk of illness or fatality.

Grahame recommended that the Government should give full and genuine consideration to "decriminalising personal use of drugs, as a mechanism to reduce the harm caused by drug use".

She also advised that "the evidence arising from this inquest clearly indicates there is much that can be done to prevent MDMA deaths ”recommending a drug summit be held with relevant stakeholders to develop an evidence-based drug policy” - a recommendation welcomed by Live Performance Australia (LPA).               

LPA’s Chief Executive Evelyn Richardson, advised “we again extend our deepest condolences to the family and friends of those who died, and acknowledge the very important contribution they have made to this inquiry.”

“The Deputy Coroner has, after six weeks of hearings, made a series of important evidence-based recommendations to improve safety and reduce drug-related harm at music festivals.

“We urge the NSW Government to give proper consideration to these recommendations and take the steps necessary to prevent further drug-related harm.

“The music festivals industry has repeatedly put on the public record our desire to work with Government on these issues, including its music festival regulations.

“The Coroner’s recommendations include a regulatory roundtable involving government and industry stakeholders.

Richardson added that “this must be a priority in the lead-up to the next summer festival season.

“Next week the Government’s draft Music Festivals Bill goes to the Upper House with some proposed amendments. These amendments include a proposal to establish an industry roundtable to ensure ongoing consultation and transparency on the operation of the regulations.

“Despite repeated assurances of industry consultation, this has failed to eventuate.

“Given the Government’s failure to act so far, we believe it’s important that the consultation process is set out clearly in the legislation to ensure the commitment is delivered upon.”

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has repeatedly argued that harm reduction measures deliver the wrong message to young people, instead arguing they should just say no to drugs.

Related Articles

16th October 2019 - NSW Government to ignore Coroner’s pill testing recommendation as it reintroduces festival management laws

25th September 2019 - Live Performance Australia advises that collaboration is key to safer music festivals

28th August 2019 - Inquiry calls for scrapping of NSW festival licencing scheme

19th July 2019 - NSW music festival deaths inquiry told trauma of strip-searches similar to that of sexual assaults

16th July 2019 - Music festival deaths inquest hears presence of Police dogs led to panicked drug-taking

30th April 2019 - Pill testing saves lives at ACT’s Groovin the Moo festival

14th February 2019 - LPA calls on NSW Premier to halt new regulations until proper industry consultation undertaken

20th January 2019 - NSW Government to require licensing of music festivals after drug deaths

18th January 2019 - Leading medical body calls for pill testing trials at Australian festivals

19th September 2018 - NSW Premier announces panel to look into drug issues at music festivals

27th March 2018 - Recommendation for festival pill testing to help emergency services treat overdose victims

Asking a small favour
We hope that you value the news that we publish so while you're here can we ask for your support?

The news we publish at is independent, credible (we hope) and free for you to access, with no pay walls and no annoying pop-up ads.

However, as an independent publisher, can we ask for you to support us by subscribing to the printed Australasian Leisure Management magazine - if you don't already do so.

Published bi-monthly since 1997, the printed Australasian Leisure Management differs from this website in that it publishes longer, in-depth and analytical features covering aquatics, attractions, entertainment, events, fitness, parks, recreation, sport, tourism and venues management.

Subscriptions cost just $90 a year.

Click here to subscribe.


supplier directory

The Complete Guide to Leisure Industry Products & Services.

See the directory see all

Neptune Benson

Neptune Benson is a manufacturer of high quality water filtration and disinfection products for the recreational, industrial, and municipal water markets. With more than 20,000 installations…

read more

Aquatics / Design / Recreation


WATERPLAY Solutions Corp

Whether your goal is increasing your centre's revenues or creating an engaging environment, why not add play to your project? If you're looking for stylish aquatic play features, kid-tested…

read more

Aquatics / Attractions / Play / Recreation / Waterparks



Vlocker Pty Ltd has been designing, manufacturing, installing and servicing locker systems worldwide since 1995. Vlocker specialises in providing locker solutions to suit client requirements in…

read more

Aquatics / Attractions / Safety / Security / Venues


Tim Batt Water Solutions

Tim Batt Water Solutions are at the very forefront of the commercial aquatic business in Australia, with over 30 years specific experience supplying and installing chemical control and dosing…

read more

Aquatics / Environment / Recreation / Technology / Venues



Links Modular Solutions are a leading provider of high-quality, innovative software solutions for leisure facilities. Our software suite includes modules such as POS, Classes, Members, Facility…

read more

Access / Billing / Finance / Fitness / Technology


METRA Australia

METRA Australia is your innovation partner for smart electronic locking, Access Control solutions and cashless payment systems to suit all types of leisure facilities.  Our team’s…

read more

Aquatics / Attractions / Fitness / Recreation / Security



Rhinoplay offers playground equipment in Australia that is safe, durable, and most importantly fun! We specialise in creating unique indoor playgrounds for play centres and outdoor playgrounds for…

read more

Parks / Play / Surfaces


get listed with our suppliers directory

Get your business noticed in our targeted directory. Viewed by 10,000 industry professionals per week!

list your business