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Firefighters warn punters to “stay away from Maitreya Festival”

The Country Fire Authority has warned punters to stay away from this weekend’s Maitreya Festival, saying they could potentially “put their safety at risk” by attending.

Concerns over three day festival have escalated this week, after promoters announced they haven’t secured a permit for the event but would be going ahead regardless at a new location in the rural Victorian community of Charlton. Police have already warned ticket holders against attending, stating the event is “unauthorised” and that support agencies like St Johns Ambulance Australia have withdrawn their services.

Now, the CFA has issued a statement warning that emergency services will not be at the event and punters’ safety could be compromised. “We’re staggered that despite failing to obtain the most basic permits organisers are determined to push ahead,” CFA District 18 Operations Manager John Bigham said. “It’s simply irresponsible to hold such a large event without even the most basic services including water, toilets, showers, medical care or fire management services.”

“We’re always happy to support legitimate events organised by responsible people who can provide a safe environment for those who attend,” Bigham said. “The organiser of this event, however, has shown scant regard for the safety of patrons and we feel we have no choice but to warn those attending of the risk they’re taking.”

Despite speculation on social media that the festival is being moved to a private property in Charlton, Bigham has denied that Maitreya have succeeded in securing a new venue. Promoters have not announced where the new festival site is, but today posted photos of the stage construction and assured attendees that they will have showers, toilets, drinking water, markets and emergency services available.

Local DJ Spacey Space has also called on punters to avoid the event, stating one of reasons Maitreya were denied a permit was that organisers failed to submit a cultural heritage management plan to protect the site, which the governing Buloke Shire says contains Aboriginal relics.

In a statement issued to inthemix on Monday night, Maitreya organisers hit back at police and argued their event is “safe and secure”.

“The statement by Victoria Police today is not helpful, but also shows the sort of things that we go through to be able to peacefully get together under the banner of dance music,” organisers said. “Our event is better planned than anything else that happens in this community, is better resourced to keep our patrons healthier and happier than any other in the are, and offers the opportunity for the community to earn a years worth of cash in a weekend.”

Internationals like Robert Babicz, Sebastian Leger and the Adana Twins are on the bill for the 10th anniversary edition of Maitreya festival.

Katie Cunningham is one of the Editors of inthemix. She is on Twitter.

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