Victoria to trial pill testing at music festivals in radical push to slash overdoses

Victorian Premier Jacinta Allan has announced a radical new ‘pill-testing’ trial to try to reduce overdose deaths at festivals and events, while insisting the policy does not amount to the legalisation of drugs.

In a video posted to social media on Monday night, Ms Allan, a mother to two young children, said she believed the trial would help young people make better and safer decisions while attending at big events.

‘They want a medical professional who can tell them exactly what it (the pill) is and exactly what is does,’ she said.

‘No judgement, just facts. Honest, open, health focused conversations. That’s how we change young people’s behaviour and even reduce drug use.

‘And that’s all pill testing is about. It doesn’t make pills legal but it does keep people safe.

‘It exists around the world and the evidence says it works. This is a simple and commonsense way to save lives.

‘That’s why we’re going to trial it in Victoria this summer.’

Police sniffer dogs are seen patrolling the entry to a music festival in Melbourne earlier this year

The premier suggested the radical policy had been inspired by a surge of overdoses at music festivals across the state, saying paramedics had responded to more ODs in the first three months of 2024 than all of 2023.

‘Let’s be clear, no drug is ever truly safe,’ she said.

‘But people deserve to know if that one pill will kill, and if someone is asking for that information and we have the power to give it to them, then why on earth wouldn’t we?’

She said she would deliver more details around the trial, including the ‘protections’ her government will put in place, this week.

The announcement moves Ms Allan away from the policy of her predecessor Dan Andrews, who rejected pill-testing trials during his time in power.

Victoria now joins Queensland and the ACT with pill-testing measures in place.

Victorian Premier Jacinta Allan has announced a radical new 'pill-testing' trial to try to reduce overdose deaths at festivals

Victorian Premier Jacinta Allan has announced a radical new ‘pill-testing’ trial to try to reduce overdose deaths at festivals 

The announcement comes one day after a 60 Minutes expose of a deadly new drug infiltrating Australia’s party scene.

Nitazenes, a deadly type of painkiller that can be a thousand times stronger than morphine, is being shipped en masse to Western countries from Chinese labs, landing in the hands of vulnerable Aussies.

Twenty nitazene-linked deaths have already been reported in Australia, on top of dozens of overdoses.

Health authorities have issued multiple alerts for the dangerous substance, with one from NSW Health in November linking a death to nitazenes found in black market vape juice, which are used to refill vape pens.

Australian mum Claire Rocha lost her son Dylan to nitazenes three years ago, after he took drugs that were laced with nitazenes while in England.

Speaking to the program, Ms Rocha revealed the grief she had been stricken with as a result of her 21-year-old’s death.

‘So I went upstairs and he was unresponsive on the bed and he was turning blue,’ Ms Rocha said.

‘But it was already too late. He’d already gone.

‘And the paramedic came out and said: “I’m really sorry. We’ve done everything we can. Dylan has actually passed away”.

‘He did make some very questionable decisions and choices. But at the end of the day, what he took, he thought he was safe in taking, he’d taken that amount before, he thought he’d be okay.

‘And he wasn’t.’