After a very tumultuous summer for Aussie festivals, which has resulted in the NSW Government introducing a new Music Festival License for events across the state, the Australian Festival Association released a statement on Tuesday morning, calling for the state government to revise its approach to music festival safety – a reaction which the AFA believes is “too rushed and without enough consultation or consideration given to the impacts on the industry as a whole.”

As per the statement, Adelle Robinson, the managing director of Fuzzy Events (Listen Out, Field Day), believes the recommendations given to the NSW government from a hurriedly-formed expert panel around three key areas – licensing, drug and alcohol education, and targetting drug suppliers/dealers – were rushed, and didn’t spend nearly enough time talking with festival organisers about what’s needed to keep punters safe at festivals.

According to the AFA, the expert panel appointed by the NSW government was only given four weeks to come back to Premier Gladys Berejiklian with a report, after two deaths from a suspected overdose at Defqon 1 in Sydney in September.

After the cancellation of Psyfari Festival in the Blue Mountains and Mountain Sounds Festival in the Central Coast over the past week, the AFA has now urged the NSW government to take a new approach to ensuring safety at events, in a way that won’t see the end of more music festivals, impacting the live music industry in a massive way.

To ensure music festivals in NSW don’t end up with the same fate at Psyfari and Mountain Sounds, the AFA has asked the NSW government to carry out a range of improved measures, to not only ensure the safety of punters but also to keep music festivals safe as well. Check ’em out below.

  • Roll out the Music Festival License as a trial, to ensure that the definition of a music festival can be applied evenly.
  • Maintain the fees for the Music Festival License in line with current Special Event licenses.
  • Roll out a comprehensive online portal which provides harm minimisation training for event staff, patrons and young people across NSW.
  • Open an offsite drug safety checking & education facility, to trial pill testing in a controlled environment that’s available to everyone, not just at festivals.
  • To ensure that emergency service costs borne by events are negotiated ahead of time.

It’s a fair bit of Serious Talk here, but the AFA is essentially urging the government to introduce a trial of offsite pill testing, harm minimisation training for festival staff and people attending.

They also want the government to trial the Music Festival License with fees that are the same as the existing licenses that festivals have to get before they can put on a show (keeping things accessible for smaller events as well as the big hitters) and make sure that festivals and emergency services (police, ambos, etc) are in agreeance well before the event, so organisers don’t get slapped with huge costs right before showtime.

An industry forum is being held by the AFA on FridayFebruary 15th to go through the requests being made to the NSW government and to encourage the state’s music industry to give feedback to the government’s Liquor and Gaming and Premier’s Department.

Image: David Kan / Splendour In The Grass