The West

Big Day Out organisers claim safety improved
Keen observer: Coroner Dominic Mulligan at this year's Big Day Out. Picture: Lincoln Baker/ The West Australian

The event organisers of the Big Day Out festival say they have stepped up their efforts to promote an anti-drug message in the wake of the ecstasy overdose of teenager Gemma Thoms four years ago and continually strive to improve the festival’s safety.

Chris Knight, from Altered State Events, told the coronial inquest into the 17-year-old’s death that organisers exceeded government guidelines, changed after the tragedy, “by a long way” and clearly specified its no-drug policy to patrons.


Mr Knight did not support calls to make the festival an adult-only event, ban alcohol altogether or only offer lower-strength alcohol because they all posed logistical and safety problems.

The inquest has heard St John Ambulance resources had been significantly boosted at the festival since 2009, and had three paramedics, three registered nurses and one doctor stationed at first aid posts with volunteers at Monday’s event.

Mr Knight said improving the event’s safety was an “ongoing process” and he was influenced by advice from the SJA.

Coroner Dominic Mulligan, who toured the festival on Monday, told the court yesterday although it was not perfect he was impressed at the well-run event.

He said he was concerned communication could be better between St John and interstate paramedics contracted by organisers.

Mr Mulligan will hand down his findings in March.

The West Australian

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