Government invests $800k in festival drug testing services

Festival drug testing services get an $800,000 boost of funding by the Government ahead of the summer festival season. 

Health Minister Andrew Little announced on Saturday the funding will keep young people safe this summer. 

"This is not about condoning drug use, but about keeping people safe."

Green Party Drug Reform spokesperson Chlöe Swarbrick says the funding will save lives. 

"The funding announced today for drug-checking services at festivals will save lives." 

Swarbrick says it's just the start but wants the Government to go further on drug checking.

"It's ludicrous to pretend drug consumption only happens at music festivals and not also bars, clubs and weekend parties." She said. 

"Those on the front line are the first to admit gatekeeping their services to only ticketed, expensive events limits harm reduction. Everyone who needs these services should have access." 

Research undertaken by Victoria University on behalf of the Ministry of Health showed 68 percent of festival-goers who used the service changed their behaviour once they saw the results. 

Little says some people binned their drugs once they had been tested, while others didn't consume as much as they would have. 

"Some disposed of the drugs that had been tested, some reduced the amount of drugs they took, and most, 87 percent, said that as a result of talking to the testing team, they understood more about the harmful behaviour involved in taking drugs." 

Last summer was the first time drug-checking services could legally be used at festivals under temporary legislation, but that legislation will become permanent by the end of 2021.