Queensland government urged to trial pill testing


drugs pills ecstasy mdma pill testing australia grooving the moo
Photo: Creative Commons

The Queensland government is being encouraged to trial pill testing and similar services at this year’s Schoolies celebrations on the Gold Coast.

LNP MP Sam O’Connor asked Queensland Health Minister Dr Steven Miles in parliament what investigations the government are currently undertaking into pill testing.

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He asked if the government was considering trialing the services at music festivals and the end of year Schoolies celebrations in Surfers Paradise next month.

“We need to look at all these options. The current messaging is not working,” Mr O’Connor told the Gold Coast Bulletin.

In his response, Dr Miles said the state government “remains committed to exploring a range of evidence-based and effective strategies to reduce harms to young people from illicit drugs.”

“We will consider all relevant reports from the pill testing trials conducted at Canberra’s Groovin the Moo festivals in April 2018 and April 2019,” he said.

“Pill Testing Australia, that conducted the trial, has released data in relation to the April 2019 festival. However, the independent evaluation by the Australian National University is not due until the end of this year.

“The Queensland Government is awaiting the outcomes of this independent evaluation to inform any further policy decisions in relation to pill testing.”

Pill testing trial found dangerous substances at music festival

The Pill Testing Australia group detected seven pills containing dangerous substance N-ethyl pentylone at the Groovin the Moo trial this year.

After learning of the risks, all seven participants discarded the dodgy pills using the amnesty bin.

Earlier this year, a NSW coronial inquest began into the pill-related deaths of seven festivalgoers across the state. Among them is Brisbane man Joshua Tam, who died last December.

Dr Miles said, “We will also review all findings from the current New South Wales Coroner’s Inquiry into the deaths of young people at festivals.

“I strongly believe that this remains a matter to be advanced with national consistency.

“There are already several excellent locally managed strategies that are in place to help protect young people attending Schoolies week. [These include] policing, chill out zones and frontline emergency services.

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“I am not aware of any current requests for pill testing at Schoolies week in Queensland.”

He added: “The Queensland Government continues to support a range of initiatives to reduce the supply, demand and harms from substance use.

“[These include] legislation, law enforcement activity, social marketing and public awareness campaigns and information, early intervention and specialist treatment services.”

Australian Medical Association calls for trial

Queensland Greens MP Michael Berkman has also strongly backed the tests at the state’s music festivals.

New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian has ruled out trialling pill testing. The Victorian government has also opposed the services.

Earlier this year, the Australian Medical Association Queensland called for a controlled pill-testing trial in the state.

“We need to have a look at a raft of solutions in terms of dealing with these issues,” AMAQ President Dr Dilip Dhupelia said.

“A pill testing trial should be considered as part of a wider harm minimisation strategy for festivals.”

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