Coronial Inquest Update

Updated: Oct 11, 2019

We have sat through each day of the inquest into deaths at music festivals, hearing both the harrowing details of each tragedy and the fascinating testimony from a wide range of experts.

The Coroner is set to hand down the findings of this inquest on 8th November 2019.

AFA involvement

The AFA has been participating as an interested party in this process, representing the shared interests of the industry only. We are not representing any of the individual organisers or suppliers that have been involved.

A portion of the AFA committee members (also referred to as the board) have personally funded the legal costs to date, and we are looking to members and other areas of the community for donations to assist. Please let me know if you are willing to make any contribution – large or small.

Inquest Process

  • The inquest was heard across two periods.

  • The first occurred in July and the last took place in September.

  • The Court has thus far heard evidence from a range of witnesses, including experts in the areas of drug and alcohol education and toxicology.

  • It has also heard evidence regarding drug checking and the Deputy Coroner and her team visited Splendour in the Grass for a drug checking demonstration and BOH visit

Where to for now?

With the festival season already started, we are aware that many festivals scheduled for the summer festival season are well into planning and even execution mode already.

We are in a unique position to ensure that our industry, stakeholder partners and communities to have the benefit of our learnings from the inquest thus far and can embed them in the festival planning and delivery cycles as soon as possible.

That will support the delivery of our shared goal of ensuring the health and welfare of our much-valued festival attendees, industry and local communities.

Members should be familiar with the NSW Health Guidelines. These guidelines are a comprehensive document that will hopefully lead to safer event operations for everyone.

We expect all NSW members to comply with the recommendations in these guidelines. The AFA also urge interstate members to take the guidelines into account when planning festivals in other states, as these now represent the most comprehensive and contemporary guidelines for music festivals in Australia.

Furthermore, the AFA encourages its members to continue to ensure that (as a minimum), they have appropriate systems in place (and can demonstrate the knowledge, nature and implementation of those systems) for:

  1. The provision of an appropriate number and skill mix of pre-hospital medical practitioners, supported by sufficient quantities of appropriate medication and medical equipment,

  2. The provision of adequate shade available to patrons and other festival attendees, such as staff, and

  3. Ensuring the ongoing availability of plenty of cool, free drinking (and, where appropriate, showering) water.

Furthermore, the AFA has been working with Dancewize and Red Cross save-a-mate on the production of an online Harm Minimisation training portal for festival organisers. We expect to be rolling this training out shortly and recommend you read the other section of this newsletter for further information.

The AFA will communicate with you further once the coronial findings have been handed down.

Remember, the AFA is your industry partner and we will continue to use our sector-wide platform to help everyone do their best to ensure that festivals are safe and to partner with all of our much-valued stakeholders to make sure that our industry delivers festivals that we can all enjoy safely.


If you have any questions about this, please don’t hesitate to get in contact with us directly.

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