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ACT Government Gives The Green Light For Pill Testing At Spilt Milk

"The question we're all wondering is 'where next?'"

22/09/2017 4:18 PM AEST | Updated 22/09/2017 4:20 PM AEST

In a historic move that's been compared with the introduction of the Needle and Syringe Program in 1986, festival-goers at this year's Spilt Milk Festival will be allowed to test any illicit drugs they plan on taking.

The approval of the ACT government for the testing to take place is a first for Australia, though it has been a long time coming with similar services existing since the 1990s in the Netherlands.

Pills brought to the testing service will be examined by emergency consultant Dr David Caldicott and a team of chemists from the Australian National University (ANU), who will then be able to inform the festival-goer of the drug's makeup.

It's been encouraging to see that a government can be courageous

Caldicott previously explained to HuffPost Australia that once the results had been returned, an amnesty bin would be provided for people to dispose of drugs they no longer wished to take.

According to advocate and CEO of the Ted Noffs Foundation, Matt Noffs, the testing's approval marks an important shift in the attitude of the government to drugs.

"It's really rare and I have to say too, it's happened a lot sooner than I thought," he told HuffPost Australia.

"I was thinking it would take the rest of our lives and possibly, you know, that it might happen after I'm dead.

Rohan Thomson / Fairfax
This year's Spilt Milk Festival will be held on the 25th November.

"It's been encouraging to see that a government can be courageous."

Earlier this year, the ACT government rejected proposals for pill testing to be conducted at Groovin' the Moo festival but didn't rule out the possibility of a trial taking place at Spilt Milk.

"There are far more risks associated with not doing anything -- that is absolutely the riskier course to take," Noffs said.

"I praise the ACT Government for looking at the evidence and acting to save lives. Death is not an acceptable punishment for young people experimenting.

It's happened a lot sooner than I thought

"The question we're all wondering is: 'Where next?'"

In 2015, six ecstasy-related deaths were reported at Australian music festivals, with recent statistics estimating that approximately 1400 people in Australia die of an overdose every year (that's four Aussies a day).

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