The (Unnecessary) War on Defqon. 1

Following the deaths of two people from drug overdoses at the Defqon. 1 music festival at the Sydney International Regatta Centre over the weekend, the NSW Government, headed by Premier Gladys Berejiklian, has vowed to do everything in their power to ban the festival. This is all well and good, except this war that they have decided to wage is going to do nothing to eradicate the actual problem, and that is the drugs.

Cancelling a music festival is in no way, shape or form going to stop people from making, supplying and using drugs. It only eliminates one piece of the chain. And where a piece is eliminated, another will quickly take its place. In 2016, there were 1808 drug related deaths in Australia. Guess how many of them were at Defqon. 1 or any other music festival for that matter? None! Since 2013, 9 people have died at music festivals in Australia as a direct result of drug use. Really, 9 deaths out of a potential 10 000 over 5 years is not a lot. So why aren’t they focusing on the root of the problem instead of banning what is a regular event on a lot of people’s calendars?

It’s an unfortunate reality, but drug culture has become a big part of all music festivals in Australia. Despite the best efforts of police, there is always a large drug presence at these festivals.  If the NSW government believes that banning  Defqon. 1 is going to reduce drug related deaths, does that mean that they’re also going to ban other music festivals like Splendour in the Grass and Falls Festival? Not likely. There are so many other solutions that the government could initiate or support that would help reduce the use of drugs at music festivals rather than simply banning the festival. Drug education initiatives are nowhere near supported enough; if the government spent as much time putting money into educating the population about drugs and their effects as they did into changing their leader, we would have a lot less people dying from drugs. In an Australian first back in May, the Groovin the Moo festival held in Canberra offered free pill-testing. The trial returned positive results, with 128 people taking advantage of the service and up to 20% saying they were seriously considering disposing of their drugs. Young Australians (and those older, open-minded Australians) have been supporting the introduction of this service at other festivals such as Defqon. 1, with hundreds of comments on the governments social media in the last few days suggesting as such. If they can see it’s potential, why can’t those who are supposed to represent us see it and support it? Simple. Because we are still being ‘represented’ by a government that does not stand for the same issues as us and refuses to see our point of view. We are a (largely) millennial population, being led by a baby boomer government who are still stuck in the 60’s, and it’s just not cutting it anymore.

Transferring the blame to the organisers of these events is useless. There’s only so many times they can write “DRUGS ARE PROHIBITED” on their websites and social media. If a person chooses to take drugs into a festival with the intention of using without being fully aware of the potential effects, that’s on them, just the same as someone choosing to take drugs outside of a festival without knowing the effects is their own fault. Yes, they can hire all the security in the world, but if they don’t do their job properly and drugs get in, it does not become the responsibility of the organisers if drug users have an adverse reaction. It is an assumption going into an event like this that you need to have a certain degree of self care and responsibility, especially if you intend to use drugs; yes, there are first aid and security officers, but they can’t be expected to hold your hand the entire time.

Deaths at music festivals are as a result of drugs, not the festival itself. The sooner our government realises this and starts to attack the issue at its roots (the makers and suppliers), the better. This isn’t a war for inside a music festival, it’s a war for the streets, so do us all a favour and leave the festivals alone.

Catch ya on the flip side,

Jess x

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