Calls For Pill Testing Grow Stronger As 20 Festival-Goers Hospitalised After Stereosonic Brisbane

7 December 2015 | 12:00 pm | Neil Griffiths

It's time for a change.

The call for pill testing at music festivals has grown stronger in recent days, after it was reported that there were 20 drug overdoses at the Stereosonic event in Brisbane yesterday and nearly 70 arrests for drug offences in Melbourne on Saturday, in addition to the tragic death of a festival-goer in Adelaide on the same day. 

According to ABC, though paramedics took 20 people to Brisbane emergency facilities overnight for what have been described as "drug overdoses", the family of Stefan Woodward are urging for safer measures at music festivals after he sadly died on Saturday from a suspected overdose.

"I want organisers of events like these to make sure there is enough first aid on offer to make sure that no-one gets turned away, and no-one feels they need to wait," the family said in a prepared statement.

"I want friends to look after each other and make sure it's never considered weak to ask for help. I want authorities to make sure kids are kept safe with free water. And I want young boys and girls like Stefan to never be too scared to ask for help."

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Following the death of 25-year-old pharmacist Sylvia Choi at the Sydney Stereosonic event last weekend, Dr David Caldicott called for pill testing to be introduced at festivals, which has seen many activists and musicians show support for the initiative. 

Speaking to theMusic, Matt Noffs, advocate for pill testing and chief executive of youth-focused program Noffs, believes the current strategies in place to deter people from using drugs are nothing more than marketing campaigns. 

"Politicians are dragging their heels on pill testing and they also know the drugs dogs are nothing more than a marketing campaign," Noffs said. 

"A marketing campaign that is, in illustrated cases, forcing kids to gulp batches of pills before entering a festival. No, I don't want kids to use drugs at all, but this is what I would say to politicians: 'Wake up — a majority of people aged 20-40 years old have used illicit drugs'".

Noffs claims that pill testing can not only help to reduce harm and save lives, but it can also educate.

"If you discover that 90% of your drug is made up of rat poison, are you still going to take it?"

Meanwhile, Stereosonic act Peking Duk took to their Facebook yesterday in response to Woodward's death writing, "Fuck this. Heavier policing will not prevent deaths. Australia, it's time to start testing".

Aussie rapper Illy also backed the call earlier last week by claiming testing would make it easier for punters to make better decisions. 

"An intoxicated punter shouldn't have to decide whether to spend their cash on water or booze," he wrote in an online post.

According to Qld Police, in total 116 people were arrested on 144 charges at the Brisbane festival yesterday. Of those charges,125 were drug related and five offenders were charged with the supply of dangerous drugs. Between 30 to 100 MDMA pills were also found.