Associate Professor David Caldicott is an emergency consultant at Canberra Calvary Hospital and has 20 years experience in festival medicine. He is also an advocate for pill testing and was the designer of Australias first government-sanctioned pill testing program. He set up a demonstration at Splendour in The Grass 2019.
Associate Professor David Caldicott is an emergency consultant at Canberra Calvary Hospital and has 20 years experience in festival medicine. He is also an advocate for pill testing and was the designer of Australias first government-sanctioned pill testing program. He set up a demonstration at Splendour in The Grass 2019. Marc Stapelberg

Day 2: Emotional visitors to Splendour pill testing demo

THE mother of a young woman who died at a music festival earlier this year and the coroner overseeing the inquest into six drug-related deaths at a number of NSW music festivals were at Splendour in the Grass this Saturday for a pill testing demonstration.

19-year-old Alex Ross King died at FOMO festival after ingesting MDMA pills and her mother, Jennie Ross-King, spoke in support of pill testing at Splendour in the Grass.

 

Grieving mother Jennie Ross-King (on a white blouse) attended the pill testing demonstration today at Splendour in the Grass.
Grieving mother Jennie Ross-King (on a white blouse) attended the pill testing demonstration today at Splendour in the Grass. Marc Stapelberg

An emotional Ross-King said after the demo that the disappointing part was that pill testing has been 20 years in the making.

"Alex was 19... had this been implemented five years, 15 years ago, 20 years ago (Alex might still be alive)," she said in tears.

The coroner overseeing the inquest into six drug-related deaths at a number of NSW music festivals, Harriet Grahame, accompanied Ms Ross-King at the event.

 

Magistrate Harriet Grahame (first row, second from left) is the coroner overseeing the festivals deaths' inquest. She attended the pill testing demonstration held at the Splendour in the Grass today.
Magistrate Harriet Grahame (first row, second from left) is the coroner overseeing the festivals deaths' inquest. She attended the pill testing demonstration held at the Splendour in the Grass today. Marc Stapelberg

Ms Grahame is overseeing the inquest into the deaths of Alex Ross-King, Nathan Tran, Diana Nguyen, Joseph Pham, Joshua Tam and Callum Brosnan, who died between December 2017 and January 2019.

Part of the Science Tent program at the festival, the pill testing talk featured associate professor David Caldicott, an emergency consultant at Canberra Calvary Hospital with 20 years experience in festival medicine.

He designed Australia's first government-sanctioned pill testing program on the ACT.

The Irish emergency medicine consultant said a conservative agenda is the only reason pill testing is not policy in NSW.

"The limitations in Australia have nothing to do with tech, nor money nor expertise - you have capacity," he said.

"The only restriction here is the authorities giving permission for us to do it.

"Our opponents miss the point - we are not trying to prosecute a murder, it's trying to change behaviour."

Pill testing advocate David Caldicott at Splendour 2019 (Part 1): Associate Professor David Caldicott is an emergency consultant at Canberra Calvary Hospital and has 20 years experience in festival medicine. He offered a presentation on pill testing at Splendour on Saturday.

Caldicott showed a packed audience the equipment he uses for his pill testing program and the type of information he offers to those who brings substances to him for checking.

NSW does not currently permit testing of illicit drugs at music festivals, so Dr Caldicott was only able to demonstrate using legal substances. The machine wasn't even connected to a power point.

Pill testing advocate David Caldicott at Splendour 2019 (Part 2): Associate Professor David Caldicott is an emergency consultant at Canberra Calvary Hospital and has 20 years experience in festival medicine. He offered a presentation on pill testing at Splendour in the Grass 2019 on Saturday.

People attending Splendour in the Grass this weekend do have access to free alcohol-level tests and paid saliva test to check for most drugs. 

Before the music event, Splendour co-producer Jessica Ducrou, said on Wednesday that some harm minimisation measures at the festival in North Byron Parklands have been dictated by the NSW Government through the Department of Health.

"At the moment we are required to prioritise safety at the event, but there hasn't been proper industry consultation and we do look forward to that process in the future," she said.

"I'm not sure what industry isn't consulted when legislation is put in pace, it seems inconceivable, really."

Not a chance

In the music side, Northern Rivers artist Dope Lemon offered a popular show at GW McLennan tent, while fans were shocked by the news that US act Chance The Rapper is not coming to the festival due to illness.

Instead of the American artist, Australia hip hop act Hilltop Hods will close the festival today.

According to a statement by Splendour in the Grass, refunds will be available for Sunday single day event tickets only until 9am Sunday 21st July 2019 when the festival gates open.

Only refunds submitted in writing by the original purchaser of the tickets via the below support link will be processed.