A bold new campaign from Pill Testing Australia says leaving young people to navigate drugs without proper education is akin to letting them leave the house blindfolded.
The campaign, launched ahead of the Aussie festival season, shows a young woman getting ready to go out, putting on a blindfold as her final step. She leaves the house and is almost hit by a car – but thanks to the blindfold, doesn’t even register the near-miss.
When she meets up with her friends outside the festival, it turns out they’re all wearing blindfolds, too. “Don’t leave young people in the dark,” the campaign urges.
The 60-second spot comes less than a month after the NSW Deputy Coroner recommended pill testing be implemented at music festivals, following the deaths of six young people last summer.
Almost half of Australians age 14 and over have tried illicit drugs at least once, according to the campaign, while 15 percent said they have used drugs in the past 12 months.
However, the NSW government has remained staunchly opposed to pill testing, sticking to the decades-old message of “don’t do drugs” instead.
“We think [pill testing] gives people a false sense of security in that, unfortunately – and our heart goes out to families who have lost loved ones under these circumstances – but unfortunately it has been found that at times it is the pure drug, it the pure MDMA, that is killing young people,” premier Gladys Berejiklian told the ABC in October.
That attitude might win boomer votes, but it doesn’t keep people safe. In her findings, Deputy Coroner Harriet Grahame noted that most of the young people who died last summer had received drug education at school, but that it was “of little or no practical help” in the situations they faced.
“By providing pill testing at festivals we can start to remove the blindfolds and provide people with information that we know changes their behaviour,” Pill Testing Australia spokesperson Gino Vumbaca said in a statement.
“By engaging with people who use drugs and by providing scientifically backed knowledge, our pill testing services can achieve a reduction in the number and volume of drugs consumed and consequently reduce harm.”
It’s the second such video from Pill Testing Australia – an outfit made up of medical professionals, harm reduction advocates and former law enforcement officers – in the past six months; the last one compared taking drugs without testing them first as similar to jumping off a cliff without knowing what’s at the bottom.
You can watch this new one, produced by Andrew McWilliam, below:Image: Supplied