FESTIVAL PILL TESTING CANCELLED
I regretfully must inform you that the insurance company involved in insuring our service have today withdrawn their coverage and support for pill testing services, despite the detailed risk management work put together by our team and Groovin the Moo’s team.
This situation occurred not long after the insurance company for the festival requested substantive additional requirements from Harm Reduction Australia before they could support pill testing services being included at the festival.
All this occurred within a 48hr period just days before the festival is due to commence and despite all our paperwork and plans being submitted earlier was the case in our 2019 planning where pill testing was successfully run as a service at Groovin the Moo.
As such, Groovin the Moo will not be able to have pill testing services at the upcoming Canberra festival.
I want to be clear that the Groovin the Moo promoters have maintained their strong support for our pill testing service and share our deep disappointment with the cancellation of pill testing services.
On behalf of Harm Reduction Australia and Pill Testing Australia I would like to thank the team, in particular Steph, Mal & David, for all the incredible (volunteer) work they undertook to prepare for the pill testing service and apologise to them and the more than 40 volunteers that were trained and ready to deliver pill testing services. We will also repay any out-of-pocket costs already incurred by volunteers as many were travelling from outside Canberra to assist.
The message to insurance companies is simple. We are not permitted to provide this important (and potentially lifesaving) public health service for young people without insurance and yet despite all the risk mitigation and protocols in place for the service, not one insurance company seems prepared to insure the service. Your inability to see how pill testing reduces the risk of harm at festivals has substantially increased the risk of harm for young people attending the festival, and their families. You have turned your back on the community you serve and the many health professionals and volunteers that try to make the community we live in a safer and more humane place for everyone.
I am not sure what the answer is for the future of pill testing and other services that engage with people who use drugs, but intervention at the government level seems to be the only real option to pursue.
Gino Vumbaca OAM
Harm Reduction Australia