NewsWritten by Tom Williams on January 1, 2017
Falls Festival organisers have publicly apologised for a stampede incident which took place at the Victorian leg of the event in Lorne on Friday night, injuring over 60 people, 19 seriously.
Falls Festival Co-Producer Jessica Ducrou says organisers are “completely devastated by the crowd crush that occurred with patrons exiting The Grand Theatre” following a performance by DMA’s.
“We are beyond shattered that a number of our festival patrons were injured and impacted by this event,” Ducrou says.
“To those that were affected, on behalf of The Falls Festival, we would like to apologise and let you know that we are deeply upset by this incident and your experience.
“Patron safety is of paramount importance to us and having to address such a serious situation is very distressing for all.
“Despite 24 years of successful operation of Falls Lorne, a confluence of events resulted in a serious incident that will require an investigation into the various contributing factors which will take some weeks to determine, but please be assured it is our utmost priority.”
Ducrou says the incident is being investigated, and festival organisers are currently contacting any punters who were injured.
Following the incident, a 19-year-old Victorian woman who was injured in the stampede described her experience to Music Feeds, saying, “It looked like a war zone, honestly. There was blood everywhere, the grass was stained with blood.”
Music Feeds has also obtained exclusive footage of the stampede incident.
Falls Festival organisers cancelled the night’s entertainment following the crowd crush incident on Friday night, and set up phone lines on site to allow festival-goers to call home. Two teams of counsellors were also reportedly provided on site. The event resumed as normal yesterday, finishing off its three-day run on New Year’s Eve.
Anyone affected by the Lorne stampede incident is being urged to email email@example.com or message the Falls Festival Facebook page to get in touch with festival organisers.
This year’s Falls Festival has also seen multiple sexual assaults reported at the Tasmanian leg of the event.
Falls Festival wraps up its Byron Bay leg on Monday, 2nd January, and its Fremantle event begins later this week.
Read Jessica Ducrou’s full statement, below.
Statement from Falls Festival Co-Producer Jessica Ducrou
Having just finished the Falls Festival in Lorne with campers now on their way home, we want to further address the incident that occurred on Friday 30th December in the Grand Theatre.
With over 20 years of experience running festivals behind us, we are completely devastated by the crowd crush that occurred with patrons exiting The Grand Theatre, and we are beyond shattered that a number of our festival patrons were injured and impacted by this event.
We care so very much about your experience at Falls, we spend countless hours planning the Falls Festival year-round, with dedicated teams specifically focused on each event site. Patron safety is of paramount importance to us and having to address such a serious situation is very distressing for all. Despite 24 years of successful operation of Falls Lorne, a confluence of events resulted in a serious incident that will require an investigation into the various contributing factors which will take some weeks to determine, but please be assured it is our utmost priority.
We are currently trying to make contact with any patrons who were injured, but for privacy reasons we are unable to access patient names and records. For those of you affected, we would ask you to message us via firstname.lastname@example.org or our Falls Facebook page www.facebook.com/fallsfestival, so we can get in touch with you.
To those that were affected, on behalf of The Falls Festival, we would like to apologise and let you know that we are deeply upset by this incident and your experience.
We would also like to take this opportunity to clear up some of the misinformation that has been appearing in the media. Patron safety is paramount to Falls, we spend a lot of time engaging with local authorities, emergency services, on a local and State level, specialist consultants, local and State Council and various other community services to ensure we are offering the safest environment for our patrons. Thanks to the level planning and support from those parties, The Falls Festival in Lorne has had an impeccable safety record for the past 24 years.
There were 15 security guards stationed at the Grand Theatre stage at the time of the incident, who responded along with a number of event staff as soon as the situation became apparent.
The Grand Theatre programming was immediately suspended on Friday night, amendments were made to the area before programming resumed on the 31st.
A number of years ago a permanent 23m x 12m medical structure was built on the site to make patrons who needed medical attention as comfortable as possible and provide medical staff with a safe, reliable, robust, working space.
This is located a 100m walk From the Grand Theatre
Falls has staff numbers on site from Ambulance VIC and Event Medical Services Australia, that sits beyond the resources recommended by the services, all of which is paid for directly by the festival. We also have user pays Police and Event Fire Services Australia resources always on site.
Teams from the Salvation Army are also on hand at all times to assist patrons.
We implemented a comprehensive communications strategy on site to our patrons and also to the public, that was fully supported by Craig Lapsley – Emergency Management Commissioner. That includes the below:
We set up a patron email hotline – email@example.com
Free phone lines were available to patrons in the main arena to call home.
Push notifications to the festival phone app were made notifying people of services available / super screen messages were in place.
Updates on all socials / news post on our website.
Encouraged all patrons on site to reach out to loved ones via all of these outlets to let them know they were ok.
Provided two teams of counsellors on site to assist patrons.
Teams were, and still are, on hand to respond to all emails as they come through as well as Facebook messages to our main and event pages, twitter and instagram.
There will be a full debrief of the incident and an investigation into what the causes were which will update you all on, as soon as we have that outcome.
Injured patrons please contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org or our Falls Facebook page www.facebook.com/fallsfestival, so we can connect.