The countdown to Week One of schoolies week is on, with the official kick-off on the 21st November.
With estimated numbers of up to 70,000 revelling school leavers converging on 17 Australian destinations and two popular overseas spots it safe to say there will be excitement and trepidation for both parents and schoolies.
Here’s our top tips for survival for parents and schoolies.
The largest problem that fuels most other issues that arise at schoolies is excessive alcohol consumption. Whether it involves unsafe sex, violence, experimental drug use or just drinking until they’re sick, the most important message to impart is that we do not make our best decisions when we are hammered.
Parents often supply their schoolie with alcohol thinking then they are doing the right thing. Not so says Founder and National director of Red Frogs, Andy Gourley.
“Don’t over supply oversupply alcohol thinking you know then how much they have. They’ll finish it and get more,” he says. “You need to make it more challenging, not easier to get alcohol.”
In the 18 years Andy and the Red Frogs have been providing support at the schoolies festivities he always gives the same message to party-goers.
“Schoolies is all about your mates,“ says Andy. “We really encourage that they never leave a mate behind. Don’t leave a mate to sleep it off on the beach, get them home. Don't let them leave with someone they don't know, especially if they're drunk.”
If they find themselves alone, they can call the Red Frogs hotline and get a walk home with a volunteer.
Good defense against excessive alcohol consumption is food. Lining the stomach before a night out can make all the difference. Make eating easy for your schoolie.
“Freeze up some meals, some lasagnes and stuff like that, to send with them,” suggests Andy. “Because if they’re drinking all week and not eating much that can really mess them up. Give them food to take with them. Also, buy slabs of water for them to keep in their rooms. Keeping hydrated is very important.”
Alternatively, do an online shop and get it delivered to their accommodation.
Red Frogs volunteers also provide “random acts of pancake.” Trained volunteers will go to the house or beach parties in the middle of the night and cook pancakes for revelers and keep an eye on them.
As schoolies has grown, as has the infrastructure surrounding it. CEO of schoolies.com, Matt Lloyd, has seen large changes in the last 13 years.
“Schoolies was a little bit out of control before because there was really no organized fun. That’s when you saw those images of violence. You do see some of that but it’s very, very rare now,” he says.
With 300 extra police, and over 1200 volunteers there is a strong presence around to keep things under control.
If an incident does arise, the best defense is always to walk away, and get help.
This generation has grown up with the Slip, Slop, Slap message but on holiday it’s easy to forget.
Dermatologist, Doctor Saxon Smith, knows all too well the dangers of sun exposure.
“Skin cancer is our national cancer so we need to be serious about this and have a safe approach,” he says. “UV rays don’t take holidays. Just because you’re leaving your worries behind, you still need to be sensible.”
Ensure there is plenty of sunscreen, and a hat packed because sunstroke and a hangover is a lethal combination.SEXUAL HEALTH
There is education in many Queensland high schools about “How not to turn your parents into grandparents at schoolies” but not all of high schools nationally broach the subject.
Approaching your child’s sexual wellbeing head-on may be awkward, but being a young grandparent is also awks. Chat to your schoolie about safe sex, and buy them a box of condoms.
With more teenage girls having chlamydia than the flu in 2015, it’s a worthwhile conversation.
The Gold Coast in particular is set in mostly high rise apartments, and what good it a 25th story apartment without a balcony?
Every year there are incidences of climbing between apartments or throwing projectiles off.
Youth and medical support team member from The Chill Out Zone’s, Angela Driscoll suggests they bear the legal consequences in mind.
“Hanging off a balcony is an illegal offense and obviously, the police monitor social media via hashtags.”
“Because social media is so natural to young people these days and they often don’t think about the consequences associated with it,” says Angela.
“Legally, inappropriate photographs of people under 18 are an offence. People have been identified and apprehended via hashtags and social media. In an environment with so many people, not everyone is going to care about your privacy and your dignity.”
An single image can do a lot of harm to a reputation, and again it’s often where alcohol is involved that the photographs become more damaging.
Encourage your schoolie to check in regularly and fill you in on what’s happening for them. It can be a crazy time, with many unexpected emotional responses.
“Be open before and during schoolies,” suggests Angela. “Regular check-ins with parents give the kids a chance to debrief to someone. Your parents are your anchor and touching base regularly can keep kids grounded.”
I.C.E. PHONE NUMBER
Emergency and volunteer personnel will always look in a phone for an “in case of emergency” number under ICE in the directory.
Ensure your number is there just in case.