Possible overdoses at a Melbourne festival sparks pill testing plea

Calls for pill testing are growing after nine people were taken to hospital for suspected overdoses at a Hardmission festival in Melbourne last Saturday night.
Melbourne festival pill testing

Ambulance Victoria has confirmed nine people were taken to hospital in critical conditions from the Hardmission Festival at Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne on Saturday night, leading to calls for Victoria to adopt pill testing.

Out of the nine taken to hospital, most were in their 20s and at least one was a teenager.

In addition, Victoria’s Ambulance Union said paramedics placed seven people in an induced coma.

Melbourne festival

Hardmission Festival describes itself as an “electronic music event characterised by hardstyle, hardcore and exceptional production”.

Danny Hill, Secretary of the Victorian Ambulance Union, said paramedics were already short staffed when many were sent to assist at the event because emergency doctors on site had become overwhelmed with the number of patients.

“It is clear that the event was overwhelmed by the large number of critically unwell patients that needed treatment,” said Hill.

Pill testing

The Melbourne incident has prompted calls from advocates to set up pill testing centres. The service can detect the substances contained in a drug.

Queensland and ACT have both announced pill testing measures, but it’s not available across the rest of Australia.

Victorian Greens MP Aiv Puglielli said: “The evidence is clear: pill testing saves lives. It doesn’t encourage drug use, it just simply makes it safer for those who do.”

Government response

Events Minister Steve Dimopolous told reporters the Victorian Government doesn’t currently have plans to introduce pill testing.

Additionally, he urged people not to speculate about how the festival-goers ended up in hospital. He added doctors are still looking at whether the incidents were related to drug overdoses.

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