Festival pill testing has become a headline act in the nation's capital at the weekend, but it will be a different safety vibe when Spilt Milk moves to Ballarat.
The sold-out event at Victoria Park on December 2 comes amid ongoing lobbying from dozens of frontline health organisations, including Ballarat Community Health, for the state government to introduce drug checking and an enhanced public alert system through the use of mobile and fixed pill testing.
Spilt Milk in Canberra marked the return of on-site pill testing, reintroduced for the first time since that city's 2019 Groovin the Moo.
The latest move coincides with the recent decriminalisation of small quantities of illicit drugs in the ACT.
A renewed push to introduce pill testing in Victoria has been made in response to several Coroners Court of Victoria investigations and recommendations from fatal overdoses of novel psychoactive substances.
Ballarat Community Health chief executive officer Sean Duffy has told The Courier pill testing was controversial but, as a community health organisation, it was important to look at harm minimisation strategies - especially to save lives.
"It's a difficult concept for people to get their head around but it's ... about saving lives and empowering people to make the right choices. Some of those choices might well be to not take the drug they have been given once they have been tested," Mr Duffy told The Courier in late October.
"We want young people, people of all ages to be informed so if they do engage in this sort of illicit drug taking, they are aware of what they are taking."
Way to spread rapid warnings
As well as helping individuals make informed decisions, testing centres can issue rapid and widespread warnings about dangerous drugs circulating.
Make a plan is the key message ahead of Spilt Milk from Ballarat Community Health's healthy communities team.
The BCH team is urging people to consider all the basics: keep hydrated by drinking water; reapplying sunscreen; wearing protective clothing, hats and sunglasses; and, checking weather alerts, especially for Thunderstorm asthma risks, which could trigger an asthma flare-up.
They say the best way to "party safe" also includes:
- reading drink labels and being informed about alcohol content and what is a standard drink.
- looking out for your friends - this can include an agreed meeting point and times in case you get split up or want to see different acts. Make the meet point somewhere fun, to ensure this is a place where others will also hang out and want to wait.
- having plans for getting home.
- have someone to call if you need help and knowing where to find medical help in the festival.
Other top festival tips from safeguard champions Red Frogs includes good footwear (gumboots were popular for the soggy Canberra event); extra money for festival food (which can be expensive) to keep up energy; ear plugs; and, not only knowing where the toilets are but also a mini hand sanitiser or wet wipes (you cannot always rely on event soap).
Ballarat is expected to reach a top of 19 degrees with a low of 10 degrees for Spilt Milk day.
Spilt Milk has a strict banned item policy. Here's what's a no-go:
- Bags larger than 20 centimetres x 30cm (A4 size)
- Illegal substances
- Weapons of any kind
- Drinks of any kind (unless required due to a pre-existing condition which is supported with medical evidence)
- Glass of any kind (including perfume bottles)
- Cans, aerosols and metal water bottles
- Vapes and e-cigarettes with more than 110 millilitres' liquid
- Liquid and cream of any kind over 110mL (this includes sunscreen more than 110mL)
- Make-up in glass containers (anything not in a glass container is okay)
- Prescription medication without the label showing your name that matches your ID (bring to the accessible and VIP lane on the day to be reviewed by qualified medical staff)
- Any loose or non prescription medication
- Video and audio recording and noise-making devices, including GoPros, selfie sticks & drones (other than mobile phones)
- Professional still cameras (small cameras are allowed - fits in your pocket, it's okay)
- Walkie talkies
- Strictly no animals (with the exception of service or assistance animals, such as guide dogs)
- Doof sticks, totem poles and umbrellas (please use a plastic poncho or a raincoat instead)
- Laser pens or pointers
- Skateboards and rollerblades, hover-boards, scooters, bicycles, and other personal motorized and non-motorized vehicles (excluding mobility aids)
- Unauthorized solicitation or marketing materials (such as handbills, flyers, stickers)
- Promotional material of any kind including flags, banners, posters and signs
- Flares, fireworks and sparklers (or any other similar flammables)
- All unapproved unmanned aerial systems (UAS) or drones unless expressly authorised
- Any items determined as dangerous by security, event staff and law enforcement