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News December 10, 2018

NSW festival organisers tapped for feedback on ‘keeping people safe’ as another punter dies

Senior Journalist, B2B
NSW festival organisers tapped for feedback on ‘keeping people safe’ as another punter dies

From early next year, festivals operators in New South Wales will face a new set of demands on planning and health and safety shaped from industry feedback, as another drug-related death sours the live entertainment space.

After hosting a meeting on music festivals with various industry stakeholders, Liquor & Gaming New South Wales, the government agency that provides licencing, compliance and enforcement on events throughout the state, has distributed a checklist for assessing different aspects of festivals’ management plans.

The responses should underpin its new music festival license model, which the authority expects to launch in March.

Late last week, festival organisers and licensees received their homework which, among the list of items, requires them to figure out their event’s distance to medical services; forecast weather conditions, in particular heat; and discuss their own track record for hosting events.

Also, the paperwork requests festival operators to detail their planned response to a range of scenarios, from medical emergencies to overdoses and more.

Each festival will ultimately have a unique risk profile, according to a memo sent to stakeholders last Friday under the subject title, “Keeping people safe at music festivals.”

For the upcoming summer, the agency recommends event organisers:

– Start early – engage Local Council, Police Area Command, Local Area Health District & Ambulance before submitting an application

– Prepare a comprehensive Event Safety Management Plan and/or revise existing plans

– Complete the L&GNSW assessment template to be sure all bases are covered

– Submit applications early for agencies’ assessment (aim for at least 30 days) – including the completed assessment template with your application

– Organise a site walk-through before the event

– Post event evaluation – lessons for next year

Events from March 1, 2019 will require submission no later than 90 days before the scheduled event. An L&GNSW spokesperson could not be reached for additional comment.

Music festivals have been under intense scrutiny since two punters died at September’s Defqon.1, raising to six the death toll at fest held on NSW crown land in the past five years.

State premier and liberal leader Gladys Berejiklian immediately pledged to ban the annual event, then appeared to soften her stance with the announcement of a “high level expert panel” which would provide advice on how to keep festival-goers safe and drug taking at places where people gather.

A rep from Liquor & Gaming had a seat at the panel, along with an insider from law enforcement and the medical community though the live music industry was initially shut out.


The festivals space has been under intense scrutiny following deaths at Defqon.1.

Plans for this new licensing approach come as a teenager died and three others were hospitalised from suspected drug overdoses after attending the Knockout Games of Destiny at Sydney Olympic Park.

“There is no acceptable use for drugs — the message is clear,” was the response of South West Metropolitan Region Commander Assistant Commissioner Peter Thurtell.

“We will continue to have a strong presence at festivals and dance parties with the wellbeing and safety of attendees our number one priority.”

This article originally appeared on The Industry Observer, which is now part of The Music Network.


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