#BeHeardNotHarmed is hosting a panel and house/disco party at the Gaso to continue exploring how we can make parties more safe, inclusive and politically engaged. Our last party+panel at Revs dived into an exploration of what The Future of the Party could look like. We’re still chewing on those lessons (you can rewatch the panel here: https://tinyurl.com/bhnhpanel1), but what is clear is that the government causes serious harm by criminalising and punishing partygoers, drug users and minorities instead of supporting us to build our communities and look after ourselves.
TICKETING Come to the panel (8-10pm) for $5 at the door and stay for the party free! Entry to the party (10PM-3AM) is $10 at the door. Half price tickets if you share the event and post a screenshot in the comments below.
To continue this exploration, our next panel discussion in The Future of the Party series will focus on alternatives to the over-policing of parties.
Why? Because every summer, we watch our friends die from dodgy pills that could’ve just been tested and binned… and the response of the police is to further traumatise us by wasting money on sniffer dogs and invasive strip searches to ‘protect us’. And then when that doesn’t work, they threaten to ban parties and music festivals altogether. Meanwhile, the real dangers of physical and sexual assault go unnoticed and unaddressed by those in power.
Current drug and nightlife policies harm us because they were made by people who have never actually been to a party. Politicians and police claim they know what’s best for our communities. They don’t. We do.
We want pill testing, and with a united collective of partygoers, we’re going to get it. But pill testing is just the start! How can we extend the definition of ‘harm reduction’ to the other kinds of violence and oppression that we experience? What else can we be doing to show each other—and the whole world—how best to party?
We’ve brought together a diverse panel drawn from party creators and political activists. Before we hit the dancefloor together, we'll discuss how we can transform the party and shape the policies and norms that dictate how we celebrate, explore ourselves and connect with each other.
A good party isn’t just about escaping the rest of the world. A good party should be a snapshot of the world you want to live in, and should empower you to start building that in the ‘outside’ world. And damn does the world need it right now!
This panel is the second in a series that seeks to give people from all corners of the party scene a space to share their valuable perspectives. By uplifting drug users, women, queer, and people of colour, we’re going to explore the history and intersections of drug use, dance, music and activism.
This panel will lead an open discussion about:
- The history of how parties, minorities, and drug use have been policed
- The history of the War on Drugs
- The failures of the current policing strategy (e.g. the harms of sniffer dogs, strip searching and wasted taxpayer money, treating drug use as a criminal issue rather than a health issue).
- Alternatives to over-policing parties (such as pill testing, peer-led harm reduction, community organising and transformative justice approaches).
Jesse Murray — A Harm Reduction Consultant for DanceWize, Harm Reduction Victoria (Australia); Former coordinator of DanceWize NSW. Jess led DanceWize NSW through a tragic summer for partygoers. Jess will offer her perspectives on the over-policing of NSW festivals. Peta Malins — A Lecturer in Criminology and Justice Studies at RMIT. Peta will share her research on the ineffectiveness of Sniffer Dogs.
- more amazing speakers TBD. MC/Facilitator: Argo Theoharis — Diversity & Accessibility Officer at Students for Sensible Drug Policy Australia.
PARTY (10pm-3am) Join us at the forefront of change, and help shape the future of the party. Change starts on the dancefloor and in the smokers’ area. We want a communal atmosphere that empowers all party-goers to create the nightlife they want to cut loose in. We’re excited to use this opportunity to centre local talent from intersections on the fringe who wouldn’t normally get given the same platform to share their ideas, experiences, and art. Playing house and disco all night long, they are amazing, diverse contributors to the Melbourne party scene, and we're excited to get to see them curate a vibe back-to-back. DJs: S ‘n’ S aka Sugar N Spice: 10-11:30 Toufie: 11:30-1 Ellie Walsh: 1-3
WHAT'S #BeHeardNotHarmed ABOUT?
So far, the ‘Be Heard Not Harmed’ campaign has focused on making drug use and parties safer by legalising lab-quality pill-testing, and we’ve taken our petition to dancefloors around the country. Now, it’s time to reflect on what we learnt, and evolve our policy platform to include wider discussions on safety, inclusion and political activation within the party and festival scenes.
The politicians may have learnt nothing over summer, but we’ve learnt a lot.
We’ve collected thousands of petition signatures and run a bunch of activist workshops and parties-with-a-purpose. We’ve learnt that policy changes (such as allowing pill testing) are essential for supporting people to look after themselves and keep parties running smoothly, but that pill testing is just the beginning of what we can do together to foster a more conscious and sustainable partying culture.
We say to policymakers that we are the experts on what our community needs. To do this genuinely, we must listen to everyone in our community and provide an environment of total inclusivity and safety for everyone, regardless of their drug preferences, gender, sexuality, skin colour — you name it!
Pill testing isn't the only thing we need to do to make parties safer. As winter approaches it’s important that we continue these discussions and advocate for positive policy changes as well as positive changes within the party space.
What’s the solution?
The message to politicians is simple: stop funding things that police us, and start funding things that support us. We’ve got a bunch of policy asks we'd like to make but we want to hear more from the party community about what else we need to do (in both policy and culture) to make parties perfect for everyone.
Our current policy ask suggestions are: • Fund lab-quality, front-of-house pill testing at events and at permanent sites. • Defund drug detection dogs — They’re proven to cause more harm and are a waste of money (E.g. See research by Peta Malins). • Expand DanceWize, which offers peer-led drug education and non-judgemental care for people having challenging experiences. • Expand services like The Nest which operates at Rainbow Serpent Festival and offers support to people experiencing issues on site related to consent, gender-based violence (GBV) and Trans-inclusivity. (See: https://rainbowserpent.net/community-responsibility/the-nest/ ) • Expand Safe Mates, which offers bystander intervention training. • End the criminalisation of drug users so we can talk honestly in public about our experiences. • Stop over-policing parties — let us manage our own communities, and have police on hand only for helping us remove any perpetrators of assault/harassment. • Abolish the offence of public drunkenness which has led to Aboriginal Deaths in Custody and instead implement genuine community-health alternatives to incarceration, as recommended by the 1991 commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/end-aboriginal-deaths-in-custody • The establishment of Advisory Council on Drugs Policy (as per recommendation #3 of the 2018 Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into Drug Law Reform: https://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/lrrcsc/inquiries/article/2812 ). This council should include a diverse range of representatives of the drug-using and nightlife community.
HOW CAN YOU GET MORE INVOLVED?
Chat to our volunteers (they’ll be wearing Yellow #BeHeardNotHarmed T-Shirts). In the lead up to the next festival season, we will be building a movement and putting more and more pressure on politicians to get them to implement better policies like pill testing. We will be running ongoing activist training workshops, on various topics including: • The history of the drug war, • How to publicly communicate your personal story and the value of respectful drug use and partying, • How to convince family, friends and strangers that a better approach to drugs is possible, • How to lobby politicians. We’ll also be running more events on various topics: if you feel like you’ve got something important to say, we’d love to offer you this platform!
ACCESSIBILITY We are committed to challenging the stigma/discrimination of drug use and creating an inclusive environment that welcomes the participation of all people regardless of their: ethnicity; skin colour; national origin; gender identity; sex; affectional or sexual orientation; political affiliation; religious or spiritual beliefs; disability status; neurodivergent status; neuro-pharmacological variance; blood-borne virus status; criminal record; age; parenting or caring status; and psychoactive substance preference. Public transport options to the Gasometer are the 86 tram with stop no. 21, Alexander Parade & Smith St, directly outside the venue. Parking will not be available for this event and tends to be difficult in this area, so driving is not advised. The Gasometer is a wheelchair accessible venue, with access to the event space from the street level, through the front bar. The floor inside of the venue is flat, with slowly rising and declining sections to facilitate ramp access between the dancefloor and bar. During the panel, the space will be low sensory/stimulating, however as the night progresses the space will turn into a dancefloor with DJ’s and become a high sensory/stimulating space. There are two chillout spaces, however these are within the main area: one is located up two flights of stairs, with a platform in-between them, on the mezzanine level overlooking the dancefloor; The other is located opposite the bar, within the venue, immediately to your left as you enter. Both of them have seating available, though this is limited. There are gendered and unisex toilets available throughout the venue. We are eager to build a network and community of people who are dedicated to safe, inclusive spaces, and foster a culture of transparency and accountability. If you have any concerns or questions, or would like to get involved and join this conversation, contact our Diversity and Accessibility Officer firstname.lastname@example.org and they’ll follow this up. To foster a safe and inclusive space on the night, there will be volunteers present in #BeHeardNotHarmed Yellow T-shirts who you can approach for general harm reduction advice, or if you feel uncomfortable, or if you experience any Racism, Sexism, Ableism, Classism, Homophobia, Transphobia, or other harms... or if you just want more info about how you can get more involved! ~
We acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of the First Nations. This event takes place on the unceded lands of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nations. We pay our respects to their Elders past, present, and emerging, and to any First Nations people present with us today. As settlers, we ask that we reflect on what it means to profit from living, working, meeting, and partying on these lands which were taken through a process of colonisation that has been resisted for over 200 years. In particular consider how Australia’s colonial drug laws disproportionately impact First Nations people, and how this perpetuates a process of subjugation and oppression.
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