Two men die from suspected drug overdose after attending Sydney music festival
By JUSTIN COOPER
Following recent concern regarding drug reform and the upcoming festival season, two men have died from a suspected drug overdose after attending a Sydney music festival over the weekend.
The two men, aged 21 and 26, both attended the Knockout music festival at Sydney Olympic Park on Saturday.
Police confirmed with City Hub, that the 26-year-old man was being treated by paramedics at Sydney Olympic Boulevarde, just before 1am on Sunday. Auburn Police Area Command officers responded to the scene. The 26-year-old man was taken to Concord Hospital, where he died shortly after.
Around the same, the 21-year-old man was being treated by paramedics at a hotel on George Street, Sydney. He was transferred to St Vincent Hospital, where he died. Police were to the called to the hospital following the man’s death.
Police and detectives have commenced an investigation and will prepare a report for the coroners on both incidents, respectively.
Strong police presence at festivals
Listen Out and Knockout were held on Saturday, with a highly visible police presence and drug detection seen across the respective music festivals.
Police estimated 27,500 people attended the Listen Out event at Centennial Park, with 85 people “detected” being detected of prohibited drugs.
At Knockout, approximately 53,000 people attended. At the event, 27 people were charged with possessing prohibited drugs, and another 4 people were charged with supply.
Calls for stronger reforms
In the week leading up to the festivals, there were calls for the NSW government to implement stronger drug reforms through implementing pill testing and stronger peer-education harm reduction strategies.
This followed parliamentary documents obtained by NSW Greens MP, Cate Faehrmann, regarding the ineffective use of sniffer dogs, and the latest report from Law Enforcement Conduct Commission (LECC) outlining the mismanagement of strip searches.
Speaking at the Listen Out festival entrance on Saturday morning, Faehrmann described “a strong police pressence” at the festival.
Posting to social media, Faehrmann said they saw a person being taken away for a potential strip search following a positive detection from a sniffer dog.
Faehrmann recalled data from the parliamentary reports, noting only one in four people are found obtaining prohibited substances following a positive detection from sniffer dogs.
She continued reiterating the impact of using sniffer dogs as being a harmful strategy, saying it causes the risks of some people taking all their illicit substances all at once.
This aligns with the 2019 Coronial Inquest into the death of six patrons of NSW music festivals, which recommended the removal of drug detection dogs.
Both the Coronial Inquest and 2020 ‘Ice’ Inquiry, recommended the drug harm reduction strategies of on-site pill testing. The testing has seen a success in Brisbane and ACT.
The NSW Government are expected to conduct a drug summit into various issues surrounding drug use within the state. The summit is expected to be held within the Labor Government’s first term.