As reported by ABC, Two men in their 20s have died after attending the Knockout Outdoor music festival in Western Sydney.
NSW Health confirmed the men died in hospital after attending the event yesterday, while paramedics made nine urgent medical transfers from the festival to hospital.
At Listen Out festival in Centennial Park, held the same day, one person was transferred to hospital.
NSW Police were called to Sydney Olympic Park just before 1am, where paramedics were treating a 26-year-old man.
He was taken to Concord Hospital, where he died from a suspected drug overdose.
In a separate incident, a 21-year-old man was treated at a hotel on George Street in Chippendale, before he was transported to hospital where he also died.
Detective Superintendent Simon Glasser said police were waiting for autopsy reports before concluding how the men died, and would not confirm they were drug overdoses.
Meanwhile, officers charged more than 70 people over drug offences at both the Knockout festival and Listen Out festival yesterday.
Out of about 27,500 people who attended Listen Out, 85 were detected in possession of drugs, according to NSW Police.
Some 53,000 attended the Knockout Outdoor event, while 27 were charged over drug possession, and four for supplying illicit substances.
Superintendent Glasser defended the use of sniffer dogs, despite a recent report revealing their limited strike rate.
Only one in four people singled out by detection dogs are found to have illicit drugs on them, according to almost a decade of data.
“The use of drug dogs at music festivals is highly effective and forms part of our criminal investigation strategy and also our harm reduction strategy,” Superintendent Glasser said.
Drug-checking concern ‘misplaced’
A coroner in 2019 recommended pill testing be conducted in NSW, along with the decriminalisation of personal drug use and the scrapping of sniffer dogs at music festivals.
Premier Chris Minns has committed to holding a drug summit, but hasn’t released details about when it will occur.
Mr Minns said the last NSW drug summit, held in 1999, was successful and led to changes to the law.
“I believe this process could work,” he said.
President of Harm Reduction Australia and Pill Testing Australia Gino Vumbaca said his offer to conduct free trials had been knocked back by the state government for the past five years.
But he hoped the recent “tragic events” would prompt a reconsideration.
“It’s the first day of the festival season. So, I mean, there’s a level of feeling in the pit of our stomach about what’s happening over the next three or four months,” he said.
“We just hope that governments can grasp what’s going on and can reach out and actually try something that has the potential to reduce the risk and harm that has currently occurred in the last 24 hours.
“And if we just keep doing the same thing over and over, it’s more than likely it’s going to occur somewhere else.”
Header image: Knockout Outdoor Festival.