Pill testing at music events

Pill testing at music events
An evidence-based harm minimisation intervention which should be adopted in Australia

Date: Friday 11 October 2019
Time: 6.30 pm for pre-dinner drinks and canapes
7.00 pm three course dinner, including beverage package
Venue: Pacific Hotel, 345 Wickham Terrace, Spring Hill, Brisbane


During his evidence to the current Coroner’s Inquest into deaths at music festivals in New South Wales, Canberra A & E consultant Dr David Caldicott asserted that the “evidence” shows that on-site pill-testing “reduces the amount of drugs consumed by individuals” and “reduces the variety of drugs consumed.”

However, a recent review of pill testing in 20 countries was not able to cite any studies from anywhere in the world that demonstrated a decrease in substance use or the variety of substances used at music festivals or any effect on hospital attendances or any positive outcome attributable to any form of pill testing.

In April 2018, the first pilot study of ‘front of house’ pill testing (also known as “safety testing”) was conducted in Australia during the Groovin’ The Moo music festival which attracted over 24,000 attendees. Of the 75 attendees who had their pills tested and received the brief motivational interview to discourage them from taking their pills, more than half (58%) said they intended to use the drugs as originally planned, 12% said they would use less drug, 5% said they would not use the tested drug but would use another drug and 7% were undecided. Less than a fifth (18%) said they would not use any illicit drugs and only five (7%) were observed to discard their pills in the amnesty bin provided. There is a concern that formalised pill testing may create the illusion of “safety” and contribute further to the normalisation of substance use at music festivals in Australia.


Mark Daglish
Current Chairperson, Faculty of Addiction Psychiatry, Royal Australian & New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (Queensland Branch)

View PowerPoint [PDF]

Russ Scott
Forensic Psychiatrist, Prison Mental Health Service
Honorary Secretary ANZAPPL (Queensland Branch)

View PowerPoint [PDF]

Jeff Buckley
Alcohol and other Drugs Expert and Educator

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