By Sunny Liu
Wangaratta High School students are tackling drug overdose at public events in Victoria, proposing a bill to implement drug-testing facilities at venues.
The bill passed Youth Parliament unanimously and will be presented to the corresponding Minister, with a chance to influence state legislation.
The six students from Wangaratta High School drafted the bill after the recent deaths of several young people from drug overdose at musical festivals.
Team member Jessica Hordern said the current approach to drug regulations is not effective and more rational legislation is needed.
“We have the responsibility to ensure young people are taking drugs safely.
“Pill testing is not a radical idea. It’s already being used in many European countries,” Miss Hordern said.
Fellow team member Zoe Matthews said the facilities could inform people of the drug content and the consequences of taking them.
“We are planning to let people know what’s inside the drugs and reduce the use of drugs and overdoses,” she said.
The students’ goal is to save lives and promote a healthier entertainment culture at festivals in Australia.
Drug-harm minimisation advocate Dr David Caldicott said police operations did not effectively prevent deaths, which showed “we’re doing something wrong”.
Dr Caldicott said musical festivals were the most dangerous season in Australia, with new drugs appearing on the market and young people being lured into taking drugs irresponsibly.
Adrianna Buccianti’s son died after taking acid at the Rainbow Serpent festival in Victoria.
Ms Buccianti joined Dr Caldicott’s campaign for drug testing at music festivals.
“It’s a horror beyond horror that your children go before you in any circumstances.
“What I’d like to see is the drug testing at festivals. I think it will prevent deaths, I really do,” Ms Buccianti told ABC News.
The Wangaratta High School students said they have gained a sense of empowerment through presenting arguments they strongly believe in at Youth Parliament.
“It’s the best program I’ve ever done in my life. I have made connections with many of my peers and politicians,” Darcie Pegler said.