Ensuring safety at REL

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By Lucy Waldron

Whether the Rabbits Eat Lettuce Festival should go ahead in Warwick this year has been a topic of conversation among the community as the start date draws near.

In 2019, two people where found dead in their tent after a drug overdose at the festival, causing it to be blacklisted by the Southern Downs Regional Council.

However, director and production manager Erik Lamir said after the festival committee consulted with the emergency services in the area and proposed their updated management plans, the council approved the festival.

“The festival brings significant cultural and economic benefits to the region, attracting visitors from various locations and boosting tourism, and I think the council can see that,” Mr Lamir said.

Lamir addressed concerns regarding medical emergencies, explaining the festival’s commitment to providing comprehensive on-site medical facilities and services.

“At our previous events in November 2018 and April 2019, all medical presentations were handled on site in the event Medical Centre,“ Lamir said.

“This year we will continue to have a fully staffed Medical Centre equipped to handle various medical situations, including the administration of Class A drugs if required.”

“The tragic incident in 2019 was something we believe as unavoidable from a festival standpoint, because it was in the privacy of their own tent.”

In response to drug-related risks, Lamir outlines proactive measures such as private alcohol and drug testing facilities on-site, as well as drug checking and pill testing services.

“We aim to empower patrons to make informed decisions about their well-being and what they may choose to put in their body,“ Lamir said.

While the festival is about connecting to nature and oneself, the events offer alternative ways that do not include drugs and alcohol such as yoga, meditation and music.

Despite having an ambulance on hand if necessary, Lamir said it was important to them that the festival did not put strain on any emergency services that cater to the surrounding towns.

The Southern Downs Regional Council, with the endorsement of the emergency services, made the decision to let the festival run again in 2024.

“ [The council] sees the benefit that these music events can bring to regional centres and they’re very supportive of us and they have confidence in the assessment of the emergency service organisations being the Queensland Police, the Queensland Fire and Emergency Service and the Queensland ambulance,” Lamir said.

The Rabbits Eat Lettuce Festival wants to authentically integrate into the tapestry of the Southern Downs and cement itself as an annual festival for everyone to enjoy.

From 28 March to 1 April, there will be music, markets, dancing, workshops, yoga and meditations, and all sorts of entertainment. For more information and tickets visit rabbitseatlettuce.com.au