Major council in bid for a controversial pill testing trial
The City of Melbourne could become the next council to support pill testing at music festivals and other events.
A management submission backs draft legislation by a state Greens MP to introduce a pill testing trial involving mobile and fixed-site services.
The Andrews Government and Victoria Police oppose pill testing as potentially harmful, but council management wants city councillors to endorse its pro-testing stance at a meeting next Tuesday.
If approved, Melbourne would join Port Phillip Council in calling for the controversial move.
A report to councillors by Melbourne's health and wellbeing director Russell Webster said the municipality had some of the state's biggest over-18 music events at venues like Sidney Myer Music Bowl and Melbourne Showgrounds.
"Music festivals and dance parties create dynamic settings in which the consumption of 'party drugs', such as methamphetamines and ecstasy, is seen to enhance young people's experiences," it said.
"Overdose and drug-related harm at public events often requires ambulance attendance. This can divert emergency services from where they are needed elsewhere."
The report said that pill testing was a proven harm reduction strategy at music events, while "services also provide attendees with access to counselling on drug use and allow for
safe disposal of illicit drugs".
Mr Webster said there was a range of views on pill testing, with police and the state government not supportive "on the basis that all drug use is harmful".
"Current research from the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre supports pill testing and disputes that it leads to negative effects, such as increasing drug use among individuals or across the community," he said.
Last January, Port Phillip Council said it wanted to be the state's first municipality to run a pill testing trial after a spate of drug overdose deaths at festivals across Australia.
But at the time, then acting Premier Tim Pallas said the government had no plans to allow pill testing.
State Greens MP Tim Read distributed his draft Bill for a pill testing trial in August.