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’ process to try to reduce overdose deaths at festivals and events, as he insists the policy does not amount to the legalization of drugs.

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

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

‘No judgement, just facts. Honest, open, health-oriented conversations. In this way we change the behavior of young people and even reduce drug use.

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

‘It exists all over the world and the evidence says it works. This is a simple and sensible way to save lives.

“That’s why we’re going to test it in Victoria this summer.”

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

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

“Let’s be clear: No drug is ever truly safe,” she said.

“But people deserve to know if that one pill is fatal, and if someone asks for that information and we have the power to give it to them, why wouldn’t we?”

She said she would provide more details about the process this week, including what “protections” her government will put in place.

The announcement marks Ms Allan’s departure from the policies of her predecessor Dan Andrews, who rejected pill testing during his time in power.

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

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

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

The announcement comes a day after a 60-minute reveal of a deadly new drug infiltrating Australia’s party scene.

Nitazenes, a deadly painkiller that can be a thousand times stronger than morphine, is being shipped en masse from Chinese laboratories to Western countries and ending up in the hands of vulnerable Australians.

Twenty nitazene-related deaths have already been reported in Australia, along with dozens of overdoses.

Health authorities have issued multiple warnings about the dangerous substance, with one from NSW Health in November linking a death to nitasenes found in black market vape juice, which is used to refill vape pens.

Australian mother Claire Rocha lost her son Dylan to nitasenes three years ago after he took drugs laced with nitasenes in England.

Speaking to the programme, Ms Rocha revealed the grief she had been struck by the death of her 21-year-old.

“So I went upstairs and he was unresponsive in the bed and he turned blue,” Ms. Rocha said.

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

‘And the paramedic came out and said, ‘I’m really sorry. We did everything we could. Dylan has basically died.’

“He has made some very questionable decisions and choices. But at the end of the day, what he took, he thought it was safe to take, he had taken that amount before, he thought he would be fine.

“And it wasn’t.”