With their distinctive t-shirts, smiles and good vibes, peer support volunteers camp out and rove music festivals looking after festival-goers who might be unwell, overwhelmed, need information or in need of some TLC.
Volunteers with peer support organisations are festival-goers themselves who are giving back by supporting the community through harm reduction and education programs based onsite.
Teams of passionate volunteers are onsite to give you non-judgemental care and support throughout the festival
At many festivals across NSW you can find volunteers from peer support organisations like DanceWize NSW, Save-a-mate Red Frogs and ACON rovers. They have a space or spaces onsite known as care spaces and can be found roving the festival spreading cheer, lollipops, sunscreen, earplugs, water and other crowd care essentials. Rovers from peer support organisations can also chat to festival-goers about how to reduce harm from alcohol and other drugs and answer questions about keeping safe.
The peer support staff and volunteers, sometimes referred to as crowd carers, are often trained in festival or event-specific topics such as discussing substance specific harm reduction strategies, responding to sexual assault and de-escalating disputes. Throughout a festival they are in constant radio contact with medical staff to refer people in need of critical care.
Peer support volunteers are just like all the other festival-goers representing all types of musical tastes and interests.
"I'm into electronic dance music, I go to hardstyle events. Other volunteers go to RnB and rap, or alternative rock festivals," Wilson, Save-a-mate volunteer.
DanceWize NSW can be found by following the purple wolf signs to their chill out areas, or looking out for people roving in purple t-shirts. The Australian Red Cross' Save-a-mate can be found by looking out for the black and red t-shirts and signs.
Crowd care love
Getting help from a crowd carer can save a life or save a day / night that is going bad. People who have been helped by volunteers at a festival rave about the experience they had. Having a safe and caring space to escape to or take a friend who is unwell, can turn your night around. If you or someone you know is feeling especially vulnerable, the peer support tents / areas can be a very soothing place and also ensure you or they get medical attention quickly if needed. Check the
signs and symptoms of MDMA overdose.
Just hanging out with the volunteers in the chill out area with a tea and toast, games, or just relaxing on soft cushions away from it all can bring the joy back to your festival experience.
Who to look out for
If you are at a festival and you need help or are just curious about how to stay safe, look out for
Save-a-mate along with
ACON rovers at LGBTQI events and the
Red Frogs. These peer support organisations are there for you and are ready to help, without judgement.
For free and confidential advice 24/7 call Alcohol and Drug Information Service (ADIS) on 1800 250 015.
Counsellors are available to provide
information, referrals, crisis counselling and support.
Or start a
Web Chat with an ADIS counsellor online Monday to Friday, 8.30am – 5pm.
Image: Festival-goers attend Splendour In The Grass 2019 on July 19, 2019 in Byron Bay, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)