Who’s keeping your kids safe at Schoolies?

For the estimated 25,000 students set to flood the Gold Coast from 24 November, celebrating Schoolies is a time of carefree abandon. Many parents, though, see it as a time of worry.


For the estimated 25,000 students set to flood the Gold Coast from 24 November, celebrating Schoolies is a time of carefree abandon. Many parents, though, see it as a time of worry.

For many graduating Year 12 students, Schoolies is seen as a ritualistic passage from adolescence to adulthood for many graduating Year 12 students and, although satellite celebrations happen in many regional towns across the country, the Gold Coast remains the hub.

However, with access to alcohol and illicit drugs leaving young people vulnerable to accidents, it comes with some risks that need to be managed.

Volunteers help kids sleep safely

Louise Butcher is a volunteer with Red Frogs – a support program that aims to safeguard young people from 15 – 25. Each Schoolies, their volunteers are at the coalface, walking the streets of the popular gathering spots and keeping a careful eye out for anyone at risk.

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Ms Butcher describes one situation where she helped an intoxicated young woman find her apartment on the Gold Coast.

“She didn’t know where she was or where her phone was and had just previously fought with her group of friends,” she told EducationDaily.

“As a team, we could sit with her until she had sobered up and ensured she was safe. We chatted about her life and gave her some advice on dealing with the situation with her friends. We then walked her to her apartment (once she remembered where her apartment was) and were able to cook her pancakes before she went to bed.”

Cathy Barber is a Schoolies volunteer with Rosies, a Queensland-based volunteer organisation that manages a team of outreach workers, and says the stresses of Schoolies can cause disruptions in friendships, which can lead to young people becoming separated and isolated in unfamiliar surroundings.

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“One of the kids I was chatting with told me that they could not go back to their room because they had been locked out or one of the other roommates had told them not to come back,” she told EducationDaily.

“The young person then tried to find somewhere else to stay that night, and I was very worried about them. Thankfully, they were able to stay with other friends, but it is something to be mindful of as this has happened more than once – look out for your mates.”

Talk to teenagers about basic safety strategies

A Red Frogs spokesperson says their number one tip for Schoolies is to “never leave a mate behind”.

“Most of the risky behaviour happens when friends get split up, and someone is left alone,” says the spokesperson.

“We encourage school leavers to know their boundaries and stick to them. It’s helpful if parents take the time to have these conversations [around drinking and taking illicit substances] with their teen before they go and encourage them that just because everyone else is doing it, doesn’t mean they have to.”

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But it’s not all negative, Rosies volunteer Gareth Moores says it’s often the recent graduates show appreciation.

“There have been a number of times that a Schoolie has come back to the tent to say ‘thank you’ after we’ve helped them on the previous night,” he says. “This always makes me feel good about the work we’ve done.”

Red Frogs 24/7 Hotline Number: 1300 557 123 is a 24/7 Hotline that School Leavers can use to chat or seek assistance.

To contact Rosies, please call 3396 4267. If you would like to volunteer with them, email schoolies@rosies.org.au

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