Call to end stigma of ‘high risk’ music festivals after review found no breaches

A review of new safety protocols found there were “no breaches” by music festivals over the summer season in NSW.

The findings have given weight to the music festival industry’s call for the Berejiklian government to stop classifying its events as “high risk”.

The review examined the Music Festivals Act, which imposed a new safety licensing regime on “high risk” festivals after a string of drug-related deaths at festivals in 2018 and 2019.

The new regulations required “high risk” festivals to submit safety management plans 90 days before the event, hold briefings for health service providers, and maintain an incident register for the duration of the event.

The report recommended the government remove the phrase “high risk” from the legislation and associated documents and include an objective test for determining which festivals must comply with the new safety regime.

“While there is some evidence to suggest that there have been fewer adverse health outcomes, and to a lesser extent assaults, at high-risk music festivals since the introduction of the Act, the number of serious drug-related presentations was consistent,” the report stated.

Australian Festival Association general manager Julia Robinson said being categorised as “high risk” put an unfair burden on festival organisers.

“Recent reintroduction of restrictions in NSW and Victoria show that it’s an uncertain operating environment and when you can’t insure against COVID-19 shut downs, the outlay to get a festival up and running makes for a considerable gamble,” she told The Sydney Morning Herald

Read the full report here.