Australian music festival attendees who seek emergency medical treatment following alcohol and other drug use: A Global Drug Survey data report

Monica J Barratt, Caitlin E Hughes, Jason A Ferris, Adam R Winstock

    Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned reportpeer-review

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    Across 2018 and 2019 there have been a series of drug-related deaths at Australian music festivals. These tragedies have highlighted a lack of current and localised information about the circumstances surrounding acute harm events
    following drug use among Australian festivalgoers. This report analyses data from the Global Drug Survey from late 2018, at the onset of the last Australian summer music festival season. We recruited a large sample of Australian festivalgoers (N = 4,391), all of whom (a) reported being residents of Australia, (b) reported attending one or more festivals in the last 12 months, and (c) answered at least one question about seeking emergency medical treatment (EMT) in the last 12 months. This report was commissioned by the NSW Coroner, to feed into the 2019 Coronial Inquest into drug-related deaths of music festival attendees. It outlines rates of EMT by drug type among Australian festivalgoers, and descriptions of the circumstances surrounding EMT, including symptoms and hospitalisations. The analyses show that circumstances of seeking EMT following alcohol and other drug use are complex and unlikely to be attributable to one factor alone. But this identified a number of behavioural risk factors that tailored interventions could target, such as polydrug use, taking large doses, and not knowing the content/purity of drug(s) consumed. It thus recommends a number of policy responses, including expanding access to peer-run harm-reduction services like DanceWize and provision of drug checking or pill testing services at music festivals. Attention to the broader risk environment, particularly policing and criminal statute of the laws surrounding drug taking at Australian festivals, is also warranted.
    Original languageEnglish
    Place of PublicationMelbourne
    PublisherSocial and Global Studies Centre, RMIT University
    Commissioning bodyNSW Coroner
    Number of pages21
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2019


    • music festivals
    • Alcohol and drugs
    • overdose
    • emergency medical treatment
    • Australia
    • drug policy
    • crime policy
    • health policy


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