What a fantastic result for our community over the Mardi Gras season -“ you were asked to keep yourself nice and you came to the party and did yourself proud!

As I have said many times, our community has always been a world leader in the way we respond to drug issues.

Although our parties and major events are among the largest in the world they are also acknowledged as some of the safest.

Over the past few years new drugs have risen in popularity within our community and in some instances they have caused significant problems -“ affecting the way we manage our events and liaise with law enforcement and the health sector.

When overdoses occur at our events and nightclubs it is inevitable that police will become more interested in the community and as a result the relationships that we have built over the years could be adversely affected.

This Mardi Gras season was extremely important to us.

All the major events invested a great deal of time and money into ensuring that all possible precautions were put into place to minimise drug-related harm.

One of the highlights for me has been the development of ACON’s volunteer Drug Rovers.

These were a highly visible group and did an amazing job of acting as both a support team and a set of eyes for medical teams.

Rovers are part of ACON’s harm reduction outreach service and this year they played a much more prominent role.

The poster that was introduced at Sleaze Ball 2004 was rolled out again and many people commented on their presence and their apparent lack of fashion sense (fluorescent yellow vests do not go with many party outfits!).

But most of all it was the punters that obviously put a real effort into ensuring that everything went well.

All the events that I attended had an upbeat feel and there were very few problems.

Many people chose to take time in between events to recover and there appeared to be a group who made a decision to party all day Sunday and not go to the Mardi Gras Party in an effort to keep themselves nice.

There were few patrons who displayed obvious signs of intoxication -“ a big issue that punters need to understand is at the forefront of all promoters’ minds, as apart from the obvious health concerns, this puts their license at risk and as a result the future of the event is jeopardised.

It is important that we do not become complacent when it comes to these issues.

Promoters need to ensure that they continue to provide the safest events they can and that strong links are maintained with other organisations ensuring the future of our magnificent parties.

We will continue to have ACON Rovers, medical teams, Gay and Lesbian Liaison Officers (GLLOs) from the NSW Police Service and a range of other initiatives at our events -“ but in the end it will really come down to the punters and how they look after the community.

Remember: If you do not want any negative consequences, do not use the drug and no matter how many times you have used a substance – never be blase!

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