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Dr. Amar Dhall and Manav Satija

This talk is facilitated by Dr. Amar Dhall and Manav Satija. Amar is a practicing psychotherapist and researcher from Canberra who holds a PhD in law and lectured in the School of Law and Justice at the University of Canberra for a number of years. He has both presented at international academic conferences and has been published internationally on a variety of subjects including shamanism, holistic quantum mechanics, law and post-Jungian psychotherapy. You can access his body of work via his website: www.dramardhall.com Manav Satija is a lawyer, consultant and mediator based in Sydney who has worked extensively in human rights, indigenous justice, social change and public law in Australia and abroad. As an international human rights lawyer in Geneva, Switzerland, Manav specialised in advising indigenous communities and disadvantaged groups in relation to their economic, social and cultural rights. In Australia Manav has worked as a defence lawyer for Aboriginal communities in Central Australia, and also worked with the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, where he worked closely with sexual abuse survivors. Manav is the principal of Satija Legal & Consulting (www.satijaconsulting.com) a legal and consulting firm providing innovative and effective legal, policy and strategic solutions for organisations seeking to translate their vision for human rights, indigenous justice, ecological protection into practice.

Drug policy and Eldership in the festival community: towards a new paradigm of responsibility and safety in music and lifestyle festivals

In recent years there has been increasing tension between law enforcement agencies and members of various sub-cultures over the issue of drug abuse at festivals. On one side there has been persistent calls by State police departments to prohibit festivals based upon the assumption that they facilitate the rampant use of drugs which are both illegal and dangerous. On another side is a cohesive community of festival-goers, community leaders and activists who feel that festivals, as ephemeral artistic expressions of counter-culture, are about much more than drugs. Many within the festival community have rightly argued that the entire community should not be judged on the risk-taking behaviour of members of a minority group whose abuse of illegal substances at festivals endangers both themselves and the wider community. The conduct of that minority may in fact have implications beyond the festival scene by damaging the political and social receptivity towards groups promoting the legitimate use of psychoactive substances. Two such groups are those seeking to explore the nature of being via the sacramental ingestion of entheogenic compounds, and psychotherapists and advocates wanting to bring the benefits of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy to Australia The aforementioned conflict is multi-faceted as there are valid concerns on all sides and accordingly, there needs to be a considered and nuanced approach from all parties to the issues at play. The flow of productive debate on the issue has often been affected by a perceived clash between different approaches – a law-enforcement approach on the one hand, and a risk minimisation approach on the other. These approaches however, do not and should not set the outer limits of what is possible. A balanced solution to this issue may go beyond these current flag posts and strike a balance which both promotes good law and policy, and goes beyond harm minimisation to facilitate wellness. It is of course, essential that the debate also be invigorated with good-will, diplomacy and respect in communication. There will be two parts to this facilitated conversation; first, there will be some conversation regarding the wider legal, policy, philosophical and democratic considerations that fuel this conflict. The second part of this facilitated conversation considers how our community can reimagine and reframe itself to enable cohesiveness and abundance not only for those within our community, but also those beyond it. It is our hope that this discussion will help unite us as a community in order to bring about a more harmonious relationship between our counter-culture and the rest of civil society.