A Canberra music festival will become the first in Australia to provide pill testing in a move health advocates say will save lives.

ACT health minister Meegan Fitzharris on Friday revealed the government had given permission for a trial program testing illicit drugs at the November 25 Spilt Milk festival "to keep people safe".

The testing will be conducted and funded by a Safety Testing Advisory Service at Festivals and Events (STA-SAFE) consortium and offered for free to festival goers.

The move comes after a similar proposal for Groovin The Moo was denied earlier this year.

"We need to find the right balance between letting young people know it's illegal to take drugs, they can be very harmful, but also being realistic because we've seen deaths at festivals, five in 2015 alone, so if that helps to keep people safe, it's worth doing," Ms Fitzharris said.

The program is supported and developed in consultation with ACT Policing, but the opposition claims the move will enable people to "peddle drugs to our kids".

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Thumbnail Flickr CC Veld Music Festival