Is the Australian Festival Association the answer to Australia’s Music Festival Culture Crisis?

Australian Festival Association

Following the dramatic denial of under 18-year-old patrons to the very first Good Things Festival in Sydney, a line was drawn in the sand between Music Festival Organisers/Promoters and the NSW Government/Police with the way they believed events like that should be run and an unfair, biased amount of rules and red tape were introduced making it harder for organisers to host an all ages event in NSW.

The dust has slowly started to settle on the matter and now comes the talk of what the future holds for Australian Music Festivals and if the out-of-touch and unfair rulings from our Governments will start to seep into other states, causing a rift affect in years to come.


FKA Festival 2018 – Photo: Bree Vane

Well, that’s there The Australian Festival Association plans to step in and act as a middle-man (so to say) when it comes to dealing with regulatory bodies on behalf of the festival. Members will include stakeholders involved with the festival industry, across a broad range of areas including Promoters, Producers, Cultural organisations and Operators including production management, site management and bar operators Venues. In 2019 the AFA Board members will include:

Jessica Ducrou of Splendour in the Grass, Falls Festival and Download Festival, Adelle Robinson from Listen Out, Listen In, Field Day, Harbourlife and Curve BallDanny Rogers of Laneway Festival, Matthew LazarusHall of CMC Rocks QLD and Rod Little from Groovin The Moo and The Plot, so already there are a vast array of musical tastes and genres covered over the aforementioned Music Festivals, all of which extend across the majority of Australia.

Their plan of attack is to represent the shared interests and importance of the Australian festival industry, while being committed to delivering safe and well run festivals around Australia and providing a framework for industry operating standards. They’ll do this by:

  • Connecting festival industry professionals with stakeholders and regulatory bodies

  • Establishing an organisation that will proactively work with regulatory bodies on behalf of the festival industry

  • Recognising the cultural contribution festivals make to Australian society and will work to uphold the reputation of music festivals in Australia and internationally

Our aims are to make festival safer for patrons, and reduce friction between festival promoters and regulatory bodies, by aligning evidence based practices and decades of combined industry experience with the requirements of government policy. ​

We are also committed to ensuring the ongoing viability of festivals as thriving businesses, significant municipal events and sites of global cultural exchange in the interest of all Australian citizens. – AFA

On top of this the AFA will:

  • Maintain an established organisation that can work with regulatory bodies on behalf of the festival industry

  • Provide an organisation that is accessible for all stakeholders and industry

  • Develop ‘best practice’ across all platforms

  • Represent the Industry to the media

We are establishing this industry group so that our members can develop informed and unified strategies in response to a range of issues, including event liquor licensing, drug policy, harm minimisation practise, building code compliance, green initiatives, user pays policing, event medical guidelines, and third party ticket sites.

There is a large want/need for these types of events by all Australians of various ages, genders, race, abilities and demographic and an ever-changing organisation like this will work to be on the ball for each and every event that starts up or continues on. The government’s original Keeping People Safe at Music Festivals Report had more of a focus on music festivals as a whole, not taking into consideration the different genres, demographics and culture associated with each event.


Download Festival Melbourne 2018 – Photo: Mick Goddard

Now I’m probably going to be biased here, so feel free to call me out on it, but there is no way that you can compare a music festival such as Defqon.1 and Stereosonic with something along the lines of Soundwave or Download Festival. They are two completely different entities, one of which has a culture of narcissism personalities and drug taking to enhance the experience and the others have a more “look out for those around you” and enjoy the music for what it is mentality. Now I know there are going to be issues at any/all live music events, but in comparison, there are far more at EDM styled events than at a rock/heavy music genred one, so to class them in the same category is insane.

Let’s hope this new group of industry professionals can work towards making the Music Festival Scene in Australia a thriving, welcoming and accepting place once again for future generations to enjoy, just like we did all those years ago is the glory days…

For more information about the Australian Festival Association, head to their website here

Words by Browny @brownypaul

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About Paul 'Browny' Brown (3496 Articles)
Dad, Wall of Sound Boss Man/Editorial Manager, Moshpit Enthusiast & Professional Beard Grower!