Around 40,000 schoolies flock to the Gold Coast each year for a well-earned celebration of 13 years of study, and thousands more head to places like Byron Bay, Bali and even Thailand.
A 2012 study revealed that around three-quarters of those involved in the festivities got drunk, and a quarter of all schoolies were injured as a result of their drinking. Between stats like these and some of the horrifying stories we hear in the media each summer break, it’s little wonder parents get nervous whenever our de facto rite-of-passage into adulthood comes around. Fortunately, though, there’s light at the end of the bender: most kids have a great time, stay safe, and create memories to last a lifetime. Like the success or failure of any event, the proof is in the planning.
We’ve put together a few ways you can help keep your kids safe when they’re off the leash and independent, often for one of the first times in their lives. Planning is paramount, but it doesn’t have to be stressful. Check out our checklist to ensure you’re up with the play.
Does your schoolie have accommodation sorted? If so, make sure you know:
- The address they’ll be staying at, and the phone number (mobile phones can get lost!)
- The people they’ll be staying with
- The part of town their accommodation is in, and what amenities are nearby
- Is the area safe, or is it a known crime hotspot?
Odds are you’ll know many of the other students your schoolie is bunking with, but even if you do there are some basic questions you can ask.
- In case there’s an emergency, what’s a friend’s mobile phone number?
- How many people are they going with, and how well do they know them?
- Ask for a friend’s parent’s phone number in case there’s a need to get in contact
- Is the whole group staying in the same place, and are they likely to all do the same activities?
Half the fun of schoolies is going someplace new. The other half is what you do when you get there.
- What plans do your schoolies have in mind during the day while they’re away, and do they all involve alcohol?
- Are there any attractions near where they’re staying to keep them occupied?
- Will they be driving anywhere, and if so, are there enough licenced drivers?
Schoolies creates a lot of anxiety for a lot of parents. But it doesn’t need to be so. Parenting is about trust and helping empower your child to make the best possible choices in their lives. Just because you’re not there looking over their shoulder doesn’t mean they’re going to lose sight of the values they’ve learnt over their lifetime, but peer pressure and young hormones is a powerful combination. Risk taking is a part of growing up, but planning ahead for schoolies can definitely reduce the risk of something going horribly wrong.
Have we left out something important? Let us know and we’ll include it in next week’s edition.
Next week in GrogWatch we’ll look more deeply at the conversations you should have to help keep your schoolie safe and help them prepare for if something does go wrong.