A mixed-methods study of drug use at outdoor music festivals in Western Australia and Victoria - PhD Project

  • Research program: Harm reduction policy and strategies
  • Project status: Completed
  • Start date: September 2014
  • Expected end date: December 2019
  • Completion date: May 2020
  • Funded by: NDRI Commonwealth Scholarship
  • Lead organisation:

Outdoor music festivals (OMFs) have become increasingly popular in Australia and internationally in recent years, particularly those with a focus on electronic dance music. Since their emergence, these events have been consistently identified as popular contexts for alcohol and other drug use (hereafter termed ‘drug use’) (1), and in recent years they have been linked to a number of drug-related deaths (2, 3). This has led to increasing concern about the risk of future drug-related harm and contention on how to effectively respond. While these events have been identified as a high risk context for drug-related harm, there currently exists a dearth of research that has focused on drug use, drug-related harm and harm reduction strategies specifically at these events. This study aims to address this gap by investigating drug use, risks and harms at outdoor music festivals in two Australian cities: Perth and Melbourne. The study also considers current and potential future policy and practice strategies for reducing drug-related harm at these events. A pragmatic mixed-methods approach is employed, involving five stepped phases: a systematic review of the literature, pre-survey interviews with key informants and festival-goers, development and launch of an online festival-goer survey, post-survey interviews, and collation and interpretation of all data sources. The final phase also involves the development of recommendations for initiatives aimed at reducing the risk of drug-related harms at OMFs in Australia. A number of theoretical frameworks are utilised throughout the study, including Rhode’s concept of the ‘risk environment’, which is believed to be underutilised in the context of Australian prevention and harm reduction initiatives.

Dr Jodie Grigg
Research Associate
Tel: 61 (0)8 9266 1618
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Professor Simon Lenton
Tel: 61 (0)8 9266 1603
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Dr Monica Barratt
Research Fellow
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Name & Contact Details Role Research Program Location

Grigg, J., Barratt, M., J. and Lenton, S. (2022). Drug policing down under: An investigation of panic consumption, internal concealment and the use of drug amnesty bins among a sample of Australian festival goers. International Journal of Drug Policy, 106. DOI: j.drugpo.2022.103769 [RJ1873] View web page

Grigg, J., Lenton, S. and Barratt, M., J. (2020). A mixed methods study of drug use at outdoor music festivals in Western Australia and Victoria. Curtin University. [TH] Download PDF Abstract

Grigg, J. and Lenton, S. (2019). Expert Report - Inquest into Deaths Arising at Music Festivals. NSW Department of Justice Inquest into Deaths Arising at Music Festivals. National Drug Research Institute, Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia. [R336]

Grigg, J., Barratt, M., J. and Lenton, S. (2018). Double dropping down under: Correlates of simultaneous consumption of two ecstasy pills in a sample of Australian outdoor music festival attendees. Drug and Alcohol Review, 37, (7), pp. 851-855. DOI: 10.1111/dar.12843 [RJ1354] View web page

Grigg, J., Barratt, M., J. and Lenton, S. (2018). Drug detection dogs at Australian outdoor music festivals: Deterrent, detection and iatrogenic effects. International Journal of Drug Policy, 60, pp. 89-95. DOI: 10.1016/j.drugpo.2018.08.002 [RJ1353] View web page