The Newcastle Herald reports…
“Six ambulances and a rescue helicopter were needed to treat at least 16 people at a religious camp and concert held on a remote property near Karuah.
Police said 1300 teenagers aged between 15 and 18 had spent four days at the Tahlee property as part of the ‘‘wildlife summer camp’’ being run by Hillsong Australia.
But emergency services were ‘‘stretched to breaking point’’ when paramedics, police and the Hunter Westpac rescue helicopter sped to the property on Thursday night following reports that people had been crushed in a ‘‘mosh pit’’ incident.
A police spokesman said one girl suffered suspected spinal injuries after ‘‘falling’’ from a pile of gym mats while 15 others were treated for a range of issues including heat exhaustion, an asthma attack and neck injuries.
An Ambulance Service of NSW spokeswoman said four people were taken to hospital, including two in the helicopter, with head and back injuries after being trampled on.
One girl remained in John Hunter Children’s Hospital in a stable condition.
However, a Hillsong spokeswoman last night claimed all the patients had suffered heat exhaustion and just needed treatment at the camp.
The spokeswoman rejected claims that anyone was injured in the ‘‘mosh pit’’ at a concert being held.
The camp is an annual four-day festival for teens aged between 15 and 18.
The venue owner is Tahlee Ministries, a Christian organisation that has been holding Bible camps at the site since the 1940s.
Tahlee Ministries director Reverend John Anderson also denied kids has been injured during mosh pits.
‘‘There were no major issues, it was a hot day and the kids were out in the sun and came back in the tent in the evening, some suffered heat stroke and as a precautionary measure they were transported to hospital,’’ he said.
‘‘There were activities in the big tent and with large numbers of young people there were a few collisions but it wasn’t major.’’
But the venue itself may be in legal trouble after it allowed the festival to go ahead without approval from Great Lakes Council, ignoring a request to obtain council approval for the event.
The council’s investigations and prosecutions officer Greg Pevitt said Tahlee Ministries had been told it would need development consent for the event after complaints from neighbouring residents when it was held last year.
Reverend Anderson said the group ignored the request because it believed its initial consent dating back some decades applied.
‘‘We’re still negotiating with the council about the need for a DA, and I suppose we’ve had a difference of opinion to this point,’’ he said.
It’s that difference of opinion that may land both parties in court if a solution is not found.
‘‘If we can’t resolve it amicably, which I hope we can, it might result in it ending up in the Land and Environment Court for arbitration,’’ Mr Pevitt said.
He said the council had not been informed of injuries at the festival.
‘‘We contacted the venue and strongly advised against running the event without a development application and their response was that it was too late and the event had already been planned,’’ he said.”
Hill$ong Youth blogs…
“In an effort to ensure that the facts are reported accurately, we wanted to follow up on a recent story written for the Newcastle Herald regarding young people at a recent Hillsong Summercamp.
Contrary to what was reported, no youths were injured in a ‘mosh pit’ setting. In fact, several young people were treated by an on-site first aid team and Newcastle ambulance authorities for heat exhaustion due to hot weather conditions- common to a summercamp setting. One youth complained of neck pain due to a fall sustained after fainting – she was taken to hospital for observation and released the next day, though there were no spinal injuries as reported.
Comprehensive risk assessments are done prior to each camp and Hillsong Church and Hillsong Youth are committed to the ongoing safety of all young adults in our care; following strict Work Health and Safety guidelines, including the external hire of medical professionals at each of our 4 summer camps, and the provision of ample amounts of water. It is paramount that we create a healthy and safe environment for young people. To some, the presence of helicopters and ambulances may have been overkill, though our position is that you can never be too cautious when it comes to the treatment and observation of young people; and we thank the medical teams involved for their swift response and diligence.”