12/01/2016 4:03 PM AEDT | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST

My Son Died At A Music Festival. This Is Why I Support Pill Testing

'White latex gloved hand holding, counting and preparing medicinal prescription blue and white pills isolated on white background.'
AR Images via Getty Images
'White latex gloved hand holding, counting and preparing medicinal prescription blue and white pills isolated on white background.'

In 2012, I lost my beloved son, Daniel, to a suspected drug overdose at a music festival in Victoria.

To me, my son's death was one too many, but there have been more people die at music festivals since then, especially in New South Wales. My heart goes out to those families who have had to endure all the questions you have when a disaster occurs: Why did it happen? How could it have been prevented?

It will be four years since my son Daniel died, and what his death has taught me is life is far too precious and our children far too valuable for us to just keep trying the same thing over and over again. The reality is, drug consumption has been around for many years and will be around for many more. We need to try something different if we're going to keep our kids alive.

My son, Dan, was a good member of society. He had a high IQ and was a chef and a community worker who loved working with people who had autism. I have lost a son, but the community has also lost someone. We will never know where life would have taken Daniel and how much he could have contributed to society.

Frankly, I am somewhat appalled to read NSW Premier Mike Baird's recent comments laying the blame at the feet of festival organisers for illicit drugs used at their events. The real focus should be on the faceless scum-bags manufacturing illicit garbage to sell to our young people for large profit -- the people whose only concern is to make huge amounts of money with no regard for human life.

That is why I support pill testing. It's a way to prevent dealers selling the most dangerous drugs -- ones that are contaminated or made of things that people don't even know exist.

If people know they have been sold that sort of garbage, they won't take it. If the service warns other people about the really dangerous drugs being sold, people won't buy them.

Pill testing services can also help prevent young people from taking drugs in dangerous ways, because people who come to the services can be educated by the staff.

Having something people want -- which is information about what's really in their drugs -- provides people with the opportunity to have an open and frank discussion about illicit drug taking with staff who will never, ever suggest that taking illicit substances is an okay thing to do.

Pill testing has been used all over the world with success. By not introducing pill testing, we, as a society, are making the assumption that people do not have the capacity to make accurate and informed decisions about their own lives.

This much I can tell you: my son Daniel did not want to die and create such grief for me and his sister. He loved us too much, as we did him. Daniel had a future to look forward to.

To continue to deny this service to protect our children is negligent on all accounts.

I would like to urge our politicians to consider my thoughts as a mother who has to live her whole existence without her beautiful boy. We need to do better at keeping people safe at these events. Arresting users and blaming the festival organisers isn't a solution.

Pill testing doesn't endorse illicit drug taking. What it does is educate people who use these drugs and prevent people from taking unknown and contaminated drugs. That is a much better way to keep our children and the future of tomorrow safe. It would show leadership from those we come to depend on in our democracy.


You can view Adriana's petition here.