NSW Health is committed to continuing to work with music festival organisers and other stakeholders such as private medical providers to keep people safer at music festivals.

The NSW Ministry of Health, NSW Ambulance and local health districts (LHD) are available to provide support and advice on harm reduction strategies and risk management approaches for all music festivals across NSW.

The NSW Ministry of Health can assess event and medical plans and provide advice to ensure they are in line with the Guidelines for music festival event organisers: Music festival harm reduction

This includes providing advice on:

  • Private provider medical plan and staffing – advice regarding the capability of the medical team that may be appropriate based on the event size and profile
  • Peer based harm reduction services (e.g. DanceWize and Save-A-Mate) – advice regarding staff and volunteer capacity that may be appropriate based on the event size and profile
  • User pays arrangements for NSW Ambulance presence at events, and the level of Ambulance resources that may be required
  • Harm reduction messaging –  in-house messaging strategies, as well as providing free messaging and videos that may be used on event social networks and onsite at the festival
  • Shade, water and other cooling strategies – advice regarding the provision of shade and adequate water stations for patrons.

Contact details

Guidelines for music festival event organisers: Music festival harm reduction

The Guidelines for music festival event organisers: Music festival harm reduction have been written to support event organisers to deliver safer music festivals. NSW Health will use the Guidelines to assess festival event and medical plans. The Guidelines include information regarding general health considerations, onsite medical service provision, emergency escalation protocols and harm reduction strategies.

The Guidelines are updated regularly to reflect current best practice and experience. Feedback on the Guidelines is welcomed and can be provided to MOH-musicfestivals@health.nsw.gov.au.

Harm reduction messages

Music festival organisers and promoters play an important role in communicating harm reduction messages to patrons. Harm reduction messages can be delivered before, during and after events. These messages can be distributed using festival communication channels including social media platforms, websites and promotional material.

Harm reduction messages should encourage patrons to seek help early if they experience adverse effects from drug and alcohol use and advertise the presence and location of care spaces, harm reduction service and medical services.

Harm reduction messages may include:

  • Seek help if you feel unwell. You won't get into trouble for telling a health care professional what drugs you've taken. Medical services and care spaces are available onsite.
  • You're a mate, not a doctor so don't be afraid to seek help for someone who is unwell. 
  • It's a good idea to stay close to your mates. Agree on a place and time to meet, in case you get separated. Don't rely on your mobile phone – your battery could go flat or the network could be overloaded.
  • Drink enough water to stay hydrated, especially if you're drinking alcohol.
  • Alcohol and other drugs can affect your body's ability to maintain a normal temperature. Wear sun protection, take regular breaks in the shade and have warm clothes ready for when the sun goes down.  Ask for help if you start feeling unusually hot or overheated.
  • Festivals can become overwhelming. If you're feeling distressed or anxious, tell a trusted friend how you feel and move away from loud music. Find a calm place to chill out and seek help if you need it.

For further information on keeping safe at music festivals or for more information about drugs and alcohol, visit YourRoom to get the facts.

Harm reduction videos

NSW Health has developed a series of short harm reduction videos. These videos can be used by event organisers and promoters and we encourage you to share them on your social networks.​​​​

Sophie: Overdose survivor

Dr Phil Smith: Know the signs and get help

Music Festival Safety – DanceWize

Chenea Roles Paramedic, NSW Ambulance: Look out for your mates and they will look after you

Further information

For further information on music festival safety for patrons please visit Your Room.​​

Page Updated: Thursday 11 July 2019
Contact page owner: Centre for Population Health