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21 December 2018

Keeping people safe at music festivals

Music festivals are a significant part of the NSW entertainment scene – but it is important that they are safe.

The NSW Government is taking action to improve safety at music festivals by implementing the recommendations of an Expert Panel established following the tragic events at the Defqon.1 music festival in September.

The Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority has asked Liquor & Gaming NSW to coordinate the assessment of existing and new liquor licence applications relating to music festivals against revised criteria and heightened alertness to potential risks.

Liquor & Gaming will assess alcohol management related aspects of these plans and NSW Health and the Police will review the medical, drug management and public safety aspects of the plans, which must be targeted to the specific risks of each festival.

This new approach is an interim measure before we launch a new music festival licence in 2019.

Festival organisers should always work closely with local councils, NSW Police, NSW Health, Liquor & Gaming NSW and other relevant agencies to ensure that appropriate measures are taken to reduce the risks of drug-related casualties at festivals.

Events this summer – what you need to do now

If you’re organising a festival over the summer before the new licence is in place, you need to:

  • Start your planning early and engage with relevant government agencies including NSW Police, the Local Health District and NSW Ambulance to gather the information you need before submitting your application. Give these stakeholders a call or meet in person to talk through your plans.
  • Complete an Event Safety Management Plan Checklist (PDF 313.7 KB) to assess the different aspects of your event, and indicate any potential risk factors and the actions you will take to reduce these risks.
  • Prepare a comprehensive safety management plan and/or revise your existing plans to improve venue and patron safety. Your plans should include measures such as emergency and medical response, alcohol and drug management and public safety.
  • Submit your application early for assessment (a minimum of 30 days prior to your event) and include a completed Management Plan Checklist with your application. Liquor and Gaming NSW, NSW Health and the Police will assess your plans as part of your application. You may be required to revise your plans based on feedback from these agencies.
  • Organise a site walk-through before the event with local Police and NSW Ambulance and implement any additional safety measures needed to further improve patron safety.
  • Evaluate your event against your safety management plan and use key learnings to identify improvements to your planning and processes next year.

Existing licence holders

If you are organising a music festival on an existing licensed premises you should review your existing management plans to ensure potential risks are identified and will be appropriately managed. You should do this in consultation with relevant government agencies including NSW Police, the Local Health District and NSW Ambulance.

If we consider that your plans do not have sufficient detail or do not provide adequate safeguards for festival patrons, we may issue a direction to the licensee or impose additional conditions under the Liquor Act 2007. Where a direction is issued it may require the licensee to take specific actions or additional controls may be imposed to prevent and mitigate identified risks.

Where there are ongoing serious concerns about the adequacy of arrangements and risk to public health and safety, Liquor & Gaming NSW will take further regulatory action.

New music festival licence will launch in 2019

A new licence specific to music festivals is being developed and will be implemented in early 2019. It will formalise these new requirements for licensing music festivals.

Under the new licence, there will be a power to suspend any pre-existing licence at any premises at which a music festival is to be held.