The state government will not yet introduce pill testing, despite growing pressure from health experts and drug reform advocates and the deaths of two men who attended a music festival in Sydney at the weekend.
Speaking in Corrimal on Monday, Health Minister and Keira MP Ryan Park said he did not want people to think that any one measure, such as pill testing, was going to be a "silver bullet that will prevent overdoses, that will prevent deaths".
He said he would meet with NSW chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant this week to discuss festivals and "make sure our measures are as robust as possible".
The NSW government will hold a drug summit next year and it is anticipated the issue of pill testing will be examined at that event.
Two men, aged 21 and 26, died in separate incidents after attending the Knockout Outdoor festival at Sydney Showground on Saturday, September 30.
While the causes of their deaths have not been confirmed, a police officer speaking about the incidents said drugs could have "horrible consequences".
"Of course this concerns me, I have a teenage son... these deaths are harrowing, terrible, can't begin to imagine what these people are going through," Mr Park said.
"But we also have a dedicated team in NSW Health who are working every single day and every single week, particularly over the summer, with organisers of these festivals to make them as safe as possible."
There have been calls for several years from multiple fronts - from the Royal Australasian College of Physicians to the Australian Festival Association - for state and territory governments to trial pill testing at music festivals, and a 2019 inquest into festival deaths also recommended the introduction of pill testing in NSW.
Earlier in September 2023 health experts, legal experts and advocacy groups signed an open letter urging Premier Chris Minns to introduce a trial.
The ACT is trialling a fixed location drug-checking service and encourages festival organisers to provide pill testing, while Queensland has announced it will introduce pill testing.
Mr Park said the NSW government already had measures in place to mitigate drug-related harm at festivals, including "very clear messaging" at venues around dangers of drugs, and ensuring festivals had 'chill out' zones, adequate water and medical teams on-site.
He said information would go out before and during festivals about potential toxicity in specific drugs that people might take.
Last week, NSW Health issued a warning about ecstasy pills containing more than four times the average dose of MDMA, advising high doses of the drug had caused serious illness and death.
In less than two weeks' time Wollongong's Yours and Owls Festival will take place on the University of Wollongong campus, kicking off the summer festival season in the Illawarra.
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