We all want people to enjoy events and leave with great memories. Some people may choose to use drugs to enhance their experience of your event, and it’s likely that drugs will be present regardless of how strong your front-gate processes are.
You might have an overall aim, such as “reduce harm from drugs” or “prevent drug-related incidents”, along with some more specific goals that are measurable.
Some examples of specific goals from other events are:
Here are some things to consider while deciding what you are trying to achieve with this plan:
This will be a question you'll revisit as you work through the following sections. Considering the questions as a team will help to identify blind spots and ensure that you have the right event resourcing in the right places.
Encourage your team to ask questions to ensure that you have a good risk-resource balance across your event. You should also check for any unintended consequences.
Consider the location, time of year, and who is likely to attend your event.
Adam Lynch from Reliance Risk suggests using these questions to help determine the risk profile of your event.
The most important thing is that, at the front end, someone works through the event profile - that is number one.
If the event is high risk, you need to make sure you are investing resources and energy in this. It needs to sit with a dedicated person to make sure that that happens. The other area, 100 percent, is around communication, with your partners and stakeholders, and your communication with the public. You’ve gotta have a balance between having rules and then encouraging people to look after [each other]. That pre- event comms piece is really important.
- Brendan Hines, General Manager of Spark Arena
Resourcing could include:
Also consider whether you can respond easily if incidents occur. This is more difficult if the event is large and has areas that are difficult to monitor or for medical teams to get to.
Consider how close hospitals are and how people would need to be transported there (eg, helicopter or ambulance) and whether there is sufficient cellphone or radio coverage for good communication.
From our point of view, for a very long time venues have been focused on welfare rather than compliance...There is only so much we can do [that is] preventative and we need to focus some of our efforts on mitigating harm.
- Brendan Hines, General Manager - Spark Arena
Consider what you might like to do the same or differently from previous events. You might like to speak to other event organisers to give you an indication of what you might see at your event.
It’s really important to have an event log function that records and captures as much information and occurrences as possible. Being able to refer back to this event record, or share this intel with other event organisers, helps build a shared knowledge base that will assist you in identifying what works, what needs to be changed, and what to change it to.
-Ashley Quensell, EVANZ Board Member, General Manager of National Operations at P4G.
One of the key drivers for St John Event Health Services to reduce drug harm at events came a few years ago. We provided medical cover at a large-scale dance party, one of the biggest we had ever seen. From the moment people were filing through the gates you could already see a lot of them were impaired by drugs. The event ended up presenting a significant number of serious patients who were all affected by a ‘bad batch of MDMA’. In hindsight, it was likely eutylone. We were caught somewhat unaware as there was not a robust risk assessment completed prior to the event that was shared between all stakeholders, and as a result, our medical resource on the ground was significantly stretched. The learning for our team was to strongly advocate for open discussions relating to drug and alcohol harm, and to stand our ground on the minimum level of medical resourcing to run a safe event.
- Glen Hoult, Event Risk and Specialist Team Manager, St John
Talking with your stakeholders about this plan will help you to develop an approach that you all agree on. This may be an ongoing process – often all stakeholders will agree that you should prevent problems from drugs at the event, but they might have different opinions on how to do that.
If it’s helpful, share our explanation of why a harm reduction approach makes sense.
The policy part is really important. It's important to understand stakeholders and understand their thinking - you have to carry them with you. You can't leave them behind.
- Mark Gosling, EVANZ Chairman, CEO of Trusts Arena
You might want to speak to:
Smaller events have less resourcing to bring in services and often have staff working across multiple roles. You can also look at the Drugs in Bars guide for more information.
Here are some things you might like to consider:
These resources have been created for event organisers, by event organisers. They were commissioned by Te Whatu Ora, and the NZ Drug Foundation helped the working group share their expertise. Much thanks and appreciation to those who've contributed.