The four NSW festivals where revellers died from suspected drug overdoses in the past six months are among those classified by the state government as “high risk”, in a list that includes 10 others.
The government on Saturday released its list of 14 high risk festivals which will have to adhere to a new licensing scheme from March 1. No other festival will be affected by the changes.
Five revellers died at FOMO festival in Parramatta, Defqon.1 in Penrith, the Knockout Games of Destiny at Sydney Olympic Park and the Lost Paradise festival on the central coast between September and January this year.
All four of those festivals are on the high risk list.
“I want to see our live music industry flourish, I want to see more festivals in the future,” Premier Gladys Berejiklian told reporters at Blacktown on Saturday.
“But I also want to make sure that when people attend these festivals the risk of brain injury, lifelong injury, or death is low.”
The government said high risk festivals had serious drug related illness or death occur in the past three years or the Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority determined there may be a significant risk of such illness or death at those festivals.
Some needed more medical resources, while others needed more security, Ms Berejiklian said.
The list will be regularly reviewed and festivals which improve their safety may be removed from the list while others may be added, government said in a statement.
It follows an announcement by NSW Racing Minister Paul Toole earlier in the week that music festivals determined to be low risk would obtain a free licence under the coalition’s new licensing regime.
The NSW government has copped criticism over the changes with the Australian Festival Association claiming it’s “a fact” that well-run festivals with excellent safety records are already being negatively affected.
It said “high risk” festival organisers received a late night text on Friday advising them of their status, without properly consultation.
“Our offer to sit down and work through sensible steps to improve safety has fallen on deaf ears,” the peak body said in a statement on Saturday.
“These festivals haven’t seen the guidelines under which they have been assessed, nor given a right of reply.”
Ms Berejiklian said the government was currently consulting with the high risk festival organisers and was keen to work with them.
“All we’re saying to the high risk festivals is just please meet us halfway,” she said.
“We want to see them continue but we also want them to be safe.”
The ‘high risk’ festivals list
- Ultra Australia
- Laneway Festival
- Days Like This
- Up Down
- Electric Gardens
- Hardcore Till I Die
- This That
- Knockout Games of Destiny
- Lost Paradise
- Rolling Loud