Public health and safety at events
What needs to be considered when organising a public event
People use a range of illicit drugs, including ecstasy and methamphetamine, in settings such as nightclubs, pubs and live music events, including raves and dance parties.
This webpage is for people who manage premises or organise such events and provides information on how to prevent and reduce the use of illicit drugs and the harm that may result.
It is recognised that the places and environments covered in this information can differ markedly from each other. For example, the issues faced by a person managing a fixed-licensed premise such as a pub or nightclub will be different to a person organising an event such as an outdoor, one-off music festival.
While most hospitality services and events are licensed to sell alcohol, it is recognised that not all may be. Given the danger of consuming alcohol together with illicit drugs, this information is of particular relevance to people who work in a licensed premise or who hold a liquor licence for their event.
With the current concern in our society about binge drinking it is only natural that licensees and their staff will have a strong focus on alcohol. However, illicit drug use or drug dealing should not be overlooked as an issue.
The strategies and actions suggested below are not confined to drug use issues, but are the sorts of things that contribute to a safe environment for patrons and staff generally.
Illicit drug use in and around venues and events can be associated with a number of health and legal risks to patrons and staff including:
By taking some simple actions the risks associated with illicit drug use at events or venues can be reduced and the following benefits will result:
Develop operating procedures that protect the safety and health of patrons and staff.
Frequently asked questions
The following responses are provided to help deal with a situation where a patron has used illicit drugs.
If you believe someone is in need of immediate medical assistance, call an ambulance. The individual's permission is not required.
Explain that you have duty of care obligation under common law to provide a safe environment for patrons. Inform them of the importance of seeking immediate medical assistance for any medical problem. Inform them that police do not attend medical emergencies unless ambulance officers call for help or a death occurs.
Believe them. Notify management, ensure someone stays with the person, seek medical assistance and encourage the person to notify police of the incident.
The Code of Practice under the Liquor Licensing Act 1997 requires a licensee to establish and maintain appropriate practices to guard against the licensed premises being used for the purpose of illicit drug dealing. A licensee should cooperate with police in the investigation of illicit drug use.
Staff should understand the legal obligations of an event manager/licensee or approved responsible person, and be vigilant and report any unusual or suspicious behaviour by patrons to management. Staff should cooperate with police investigating illicit drug issues. All staff should be aware of the premise’s procedures to ensure an immediate, appropriate and adequate response to any overdose or other medical emergency that occurs in or around the venue or event.
An event manager or licensee will be seen as taking a responsible attitude towards the safety, health and welfare of patrons and staff by acknowledging the possibility of illicit drug use on or in the vicinity of the event or venue.
Illicit drug dealing is illegal and should be reported to the police. If a person is detected dealing drugs on or adjacent to licensed premises, police should be notified.
To safeguard other patrons, staff and the person who is under the influence of drugs, event managers or licensees should request that police escort the person off the premises. It is important that any person suffering adverse effects from drugs is appropriately supervised to ensure they do not put themselves or others at risk of injury.
Yes, however, to avoid disputes with patrons, signs should be prominently placed throughout the premises advising patrons that in the interests of their safety unattended drinks will be collected. Signs are available from the Consumer and Business Services.