Students push for pill tests

Youth Parliament PIC 2
FUTURE LEADERS: Geelong College students at Youth Parliament last week.

By Magy Mekhaiel

A team of Geelong students say the pill-testing policy they passed in Victoria’s Youth Parliament would prevent some drug overdoses and save lives.

Geelong College Year 11 students Bella Miller, Henry Rodda, Lachlan Houen, Tom Forshaw, Trinity Murphy and Jonathan Hanson drafted a Bill and convinced their colleagues in the Youth Parliament to vote it in on Friday. 

Their proposed policy would see medical professionals, police and youth workers manage pill-testing programs at Victorian music festivals. They said allowing festival-goers to check the quality of illicit drugs would improve drug education and reduce the number of overdoses, arguing harm minimisation was more important than law enforcement. 

“It’s not just about the poor boy or girl who lost their life due to drugs – it’s also about the mother, father, brother and sister… it’s an issue of communal importance,” Trinity said.

State MP Fiona Patten applauded the students.

“This Bill isn’t about promoting drug use, but is about delivering education instead – education that is invaluable and will save lives,” the Reason Party leader said.

In making their case, the students cited the fact there were five deaths in four months during the previous Australian music festival season.

“This Bill passing means if my friend needs help at a music festival, I will not be afraid of speaking out and getting them the help they need,” Bella said.

The Bill introduced by the Geelong College contingent proposed pill-testing booths be mandatory at certain festivals to help prospective drug users understand the contents of their pill and the detrimental effects that it may have on their body.

“Pill testing is at the core of knowledge and education,” Lachlan said.

“We aren’t encouraging drug use,  but we believe that the best way for young adults to stay safe is to create safer festival environments. Pill testing saves lives and that’s the bottom line.”

Ms Patten said she hoped the debate would one day be held in state parliament.

WHAT IS YOUTH PARLIAMENT?

The YMCA Victorian Youth Parliament program is designed to give young Victorians aged 16-25 a chance to be heard and represented at the highest levels of state government on issues relevant to young adults. Since 1987, the nonpartisan program has given young Victorians from a range of backgrounds the opportunity to debate issues they are passionate about in their state’s chambers of parliament. In its 33-year history, over 20 Bills passed at Youth Parliament have gone on to influence state legislation, including the mandatory wearing of bike helmets and over the counter purchase of contraception pills. YMCA Victorian Youth Parliament 2019 took place last week (July 1-4).

This article originally appeared on the Geelong Advertiser, July 8, 2019.

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