The police presence on the way into Burning Seed in 2017 took many people by surprise. Seed has grown over the 7 years at Matong State Forest from fewer than 500 people attending in 2011 to well over 3500 tickets sold last year. The reality of the size of our event in the current political climate, especially in NSW, is that we are now on the radar of many government agencies.
The Burning Seed organisers, in particular the Engine Room and Site Safety Facilitators, are responsible for building and maintaining relationships with our external stakeholders including Forestry Corporation of NSW, NSW Ambulance, NSW Health, and of course NSW Police. The very future of our event relies on the support of these groups, along with the local community.
Last year there was a very obvious increase in police operations, especially on the way into the event. We fully understand that this caused distress for some members of our community. What was disappointing to see was the reaction of certain participants to the police when they were onsite during the event. In particular the damage caused to a police vehicle, likely by a lone individual, had the potential to jeopardise the future of Burning Seed. We cannot stress strongly enough that any similar actions this year will not be tolerated. Any Burning Seed attendee who causes damage to property will not only face potential criminal charges but will also be banned from the event for life. We will not let a small group of individuals destroy what so many people have created and thousands enjoy.
One of our principles is that of Civic Responsibility. The responsibility of ensuring our community is safe rests with not only every participant, but also with the police. If any of you have taken the time to chat with a police officer at Seed you will realise they enjoy attending our event much more than other, more commercial, gatherings. They see the joy in what we are doing for each other, and hopefully they take a small part of that with them.
There will be a police presence on the way into Burning Seed this year. If you are stopped by the police then be polite. Make sure you understand your rights. If you want to get angry with the system then look at the politicians, they set the rules. There will be roadside alcohol and drug testing on the way out. Ensure that if you are driving you are sufficiently rested (we’ve even added an extra day to help with this). Don’t drink and drive. Don’t take drugs and drive. Don’t speed.
Finally, when you are on the paddock and see a police officer this year, go and say hi. It absolutely helps Burning Seed continue to grow and flourish. You might enjoy it too.