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Drugs

Australia's First Pill Testing Trial Will Take Place at Groovin' the Moo

After weeks of tense negotiations, the festival finally gave testing the tick.

by Maddison Connaughton
26 April 2018, 11:17pm

Image of a reagent testing kit

The promoters of Groovin' the Moo have given a pill testing trial the green light, ahead of its Canberra festival this weekend. This means festivalgoers will be able to visit a testing tent run by harm reduction group STA-SAFE to have their drugs checked.

Anyone who visits the tent will remain anonymous, and will be able to get a breakdown of what’s in their drugs.

The decision comes after weeks of negotiations between Cattleyard (the festival’s promoter), the ACT Government, federal police, the pill testers, and the University of Canberra—where the festival will be held. Until a last minute breakthrough, it looked as though testing wouldn’t go ahead.

According to the ABC, the festival’s promoter demanded several agreements that couldn’t be agreed to. VICE understands these related to the police presence at the festival, particularly around the use of drones to monitor festivalgoers.

ACT health minister Meegan Fitzharris apparently urged Cattleyard to “reconsider the potential impact of drug taking on a young life… and the role pill-testing at this event could play to protect young people from such harm.”

The University of Canberra, where the festival will be held, recently came out in support of the trial. As did Mick Palmer, a former head of the Australian Federal Police.

This will be the first pill testing trial in Australia; however, it's already commonplace at festivals across Europe, in the US, and New Zealand.