Rainbow Serpent Festival, Drugs and Psychedelic Culture

Written by on January 23, 2017

logoThis year, Rainbow Serpent Festival celebrates its 20th birthday! Over its life time, RSF has grown from a festival celebrating psychedelic music into a small town, attended by people from Australia and across the world, almost as a pilgrimage to a sub-culture that exists beneath the main-stream.

Last year, we helped facilitate and record a Drug Law Reform Panel alongside Dancewize, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition Australia (LEAP), ACTINOS and Psychedelic Research In Science and Medicine (PRISM). A number of issues were discussed, including the need for more pragmatic harm reduction at festivals and in the wider community.

Since January 2016, we have seen a growing campaign around pill testing, along with deaths and hospitalisations caused by drugs that were often unknown. Politicians from the major political parties have continued to publicly condemn drug use and suggest that the best option for avoiding harms is a ‘Just Say No’ approach. Though it would be true that if people didn’t take drugs, they wouldn’t face harm, the reality is that many Australians do take drugs and the illegality of it and prohibitionist approach from ministers, police and some emergency personnel has not deterred them.

The situation is that millions of Australians take illicit drugs at some time in their lives. Some only try something once or twice, while others develop an on-going relationship with various illegal substances. Some people (estimated to be 10-20%) develop a problematic relationship with a drug and require effective treatment to help them move away from behaviours that have become destructive.

Often people ask, “Why take drugs?”

There is no simple answer. There are many different reasons and different drugs provide very different experiences. It’s important not to remember that there are many drugs we take for granted in society, from medications to social stimulants, like caffeine. The aim should be to work toward a better understanding of why people take drugs, and begin to properly distinguish between destructive behaviours and other behaviours.

We’re proud to announce that this year, Rainbow Serpent Festival is hosting two panels/workshops which we will be recording for later broadcast.

Practical Harm Reduction Workshop – Focusing on Harm Reduction

Featuring  Stephanie Tzanetis of Dancewize and Mala Aumer van Reemst who worked with a Netherlands harm reduction program called Unity and currently works with DanceWize, Dr. David Caldicott of ACTINOS, Leader of the Australian Greens Dr. Richard Di Natale, Dr. Monica Barratt from the Drug Policy Modelling Program and President of Students for Sensible Drug Policy Australia (SSDP) Melbourne University Nick Kent.

The panel will focus on where Australian policy is up to in regard to pill testing, with a wider ranging talk on drug policy in Australia focusing on harm reduction.

WHEN: 12:30pm – 2pm, Sunday 29th January

WHERE: Rainbow Serpent Festival, Cocoon, Lifestyle Village



The second event will be the launch of The Australian Psychedelic Society (APS).
APS aim to facilitate discussions around the psychedelic experience and its cultural effects and empower the community with resources, support and a safe space for dialogue.

WHEN: 2pm – 3pm, Sunday 29th January

WHERE: Rainbow Serpent Festival, Cocoon, Lifestyle Village


If you’re going to Rainbow Serpent Festival, put these in your diary! We will be recording the panels for later broadcast.


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