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Monday 17 September 2018

"Our generation is begging to government: open your eyes." Daniel Aragona on Defqon.1 deaths

Daniel Aragona - known professionally as Daniel Tonik - is a Sydney based DJ and producer. He has been running events across Sydney for just over three years. 

Daniel is passionate about "music, culture and entertainment and the positive impact it has on bringing people together." See more on Daniel here: https://www.facebook.com/danieltonikdj/

He wrote this piece just for Josie's Juice after posting on his social media about the very sad news on the deaths of two young festival-goers at Defqon.1, the electronic music festival held in Penrith on the weekend.

The two festival attendees died from apparent drug overdoses and a further 13 were hospitalised for treatment of drug-related issues at the Sydney event.

Defqon.1 was founded in the Netherlands in 2003 by Q-Dance, a Dutch company that stages “hardstyle” (a dance music genre combining hardcore techno, house and trance music) music events and festivals.
Police have said 355 drug searches were conducted with 69 people found to be in possession of drugs, including the 10 charged with supply offences. A range of illicit drugs were seized including MDMA, cocaine and ecstasy.
If you think this isn't the first time you're reading about deaths at this music festival, you'd be right. In 2015, a 26 year old man was found unconscious in a tent and later died, and in 2013 a 23 year old festival-attendee also died.
The debate has been sparked again on pill testing. While doctors argue those attending festivals will take drugs anyway, our politicians are concerned they'll be seen as endorsing illegal substances.
Daniel weighs in here, giving an insight into his perspective:
Daniel Aragona

"Ban. Restrict. Shut Down.

A familiar theme within our state over the past few years.

Following two deaths due to drug use at Defqon.1 Music Festival last weekend, Premier Gladys Berejiklian released a statement saying that she vows to put a stop to the festival.
I cannot believe how ridiculous this backward approach is, the government can shut down all the events, clubs, bars and venues they want; they still won’t be tackling the issue at hand.

The sad thing is that the government honestly believes that they are fixing the drug problem by banning events and shutting down venues. The fact of the matter is, drug use still exists and will continue to exist whether or not every venue and event is banned in Sydney. It is super frustrating when our “millennial” generation wants to be involved with politics but there is no support from our government; there are issues which are being ignored, young adults being ridiculed by media with nothing but negativity… the government wants young people to be more involved but contrarily ignores us.

It is not so much about losing a festival, it’s more so the government taking a backwards approach to provide a “solution”. They will keep shutting things down until there is nothing left and the problem will still remain the same.

If we don’t stand up to this (and they do go ahead with banning Defqon), they will ultimately continue to do this to every festival.

I have been involved in the music and nightlife industry for over five years. I am absolutely irritated by the negative stigma created around the clubs and events. It angers me when I see comments from people calling it “drug festivals” or stating things like “only pill popping, no-good-to-society kids attend things like this.” I am not a user of recreational drugs, I do not condemn nor condone the use of drugs; I believe everyone has a right to make their own life choices. But I am begging, our generation is begging, for the government to open their eyes and not turn their back on the real issue. Let me tell you, you will never stop the manufacture, distribution and use of drugs… they have tried, but drugs still exist, people still take them and people wont stop taking drugs.

I cannot stress the importance of Pill testing at festivals!! It has been in use overseas for years with positive results. It has been tried and tested at Canberra’s “Groovin’ The Moo” Festival, it was a proven success with results quoted:

“128 participants
85 samples tested
50% was 'other' (lactose, sweetener, paint)
50% was pure MDMA
2 of the samples were deadly”
“STA-SAFE’s Dr Caldicott said five people used the amnesty bin and between 10 and 20 per cent of others who had their drugs tested said they were also considering throwing out their pills.”

It works. Harm was reduced and lives were saved. But no, our government wants to downright cover their eyes and go with what they do best: Ban. Restrict. Shut Down.

After all this, the people still blame the festival or the club. Let me be the first to tell you, clubs/festivals/events in Australia have a zero tolerance to illicit drugs, event managers implement strategies to reduce harm including extra policing, more widely accessible first aid and they do everything in their power to stop deaths and injury from happening. Yet they are still blamed for the mistakes of the minority.

Let me leave you with this… Yes, people take drugs at music events, but they also take drugs at home, at work and in the streets. People die from drug-related deaths in their own homes every year, does the Premier threaten to ban houses?

How far does our government need to push culture and entertainment out the door before we wake up and realise that there needs to be change?"

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