Police hit out at Rainbow Serpent


POLICE are questioning whether the annual Rainbow Serpent music festival in Lexton should go ahead next year after a large number of drug-related offences were recorded over the weekend.

Forty drivers were caught under the influence of drugs when leaving the festival, while a further four individuals were arrested for drug trafficking.  Alarmingly, police also responded to four counts of sexual assault at the festival which ran from January 22 to 25.

Inspector Bruce Thomas said police were fed up with some of the Rainbow Serpent festival-goers.

“Every year we see the event take place, every year we raise our concerns and every year we are left picking up the pieces.  It’s painfully obvious that there are huge direct and indirect risks to the community as a result of the behaviour that takes place at the festival,” he said.

Ambulance Victoria state health commander Paul Holman also expressed his frustrations, saying it was disappointing medical services had to attend to over 950 patients across the weekend.

“‘In just two hours early (Monday) almost 50 people needed treatment at the medical centre, many of those were drug or alcohol affected. Unfortunately some of them were quite aggressive as a result.”

Over the weekend six people were rushed to hospital, with two men in their 20’s being transported due to drug overdoses.

Three of the individuals arrested for drug trafficking appeared before the Ballarat Magistrates Court on Monday.  An 31-year-old Italian national was found to be in possession of more than 180 grams of illicit drugs.

Rainbow Serpent organiser Tim Harvey said “crowd behaviour in general this year was wonderful with the vast majority of our 16,000 strong Rainbow community contributing to a very special international gathering.”

“It’s disappointing a minority of people chose to drive with detectable drugs in their system.   We provide voluntary drug testing on site... so there is no excuse for people leaving the festival and testing positive.”

Adrian Widuckel, general manager of Colbrow Medics said almost all of the visitors to the medical centre presented with minor injuries.  “We had around 900 people come into the Centre, the vast majority of presentations were for soft tissue injuries, basic cuts and sprains, dehydration and headaches with only around 5% of presentations being drug related.”


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