The Gold Coast is getting ready for another wave of school leavers, with volunteer organisations confident of another successful year.
Approximately 18,000 schoolies are expected to descend on the Glitter Strip this weekend, as Surfers Paradise transforms into a hive of celebrations and activities.
Behind the scenes, the Safer Schoolies Response has been working to ensure that schoolies participants are well looked after.
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It’s coordinated by the Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women in partnership with the City of Gold Coast, nine other government agencies and seven support services.
Mark Reaburn, the Chairman of the Safer Schoolies Response, says plenty of volunteers will be on hand, but says the behaviour of schoolies has changed.
“There’s not the alcohol consumption there used to be.
“The kids are becoming much more conscious of their image and that’s part of the world we’re in.
“I think behaviour-wise we’ve seen a change, but there will certainly be kids who’ll push themselves to the limit,” Mr Reaburn said.
Mr Reaburn says their response won’t change much from last year, just a few tweaks here and there, and that schoolies will be encouraged to hang out at the beach party, which is considered a safe zone that police are better able to monitor.
“We do it to get the kids out of their rooms, we do it to get the kids dancing on the sand and wearing themselves out in an alcohol free, safe environment,” Mr Reaburn said.
Red Frogs will have a huge presence again this year, with approximately 700 volunteers in the first week.
They’ll be stationed strategically throughout hotels, so that they’re never far away when called upon.
Chris George from The Red Frogs says their hotline is prepared for at least 10,000 calls that week.
“Those calls will vary from, you know, they want a pancake or they want someone to help clean their room at the end of the week, to the more severe mental health concerns and the schoolies’ concerns for their friends.
“Which is fantastic because they’re reaching out,” Mr George said.
He also believes there’s never been a safer time to be a schoolie on the Gold Coast.
“Schoolies, you know, 15-20 years ago were having a really big time.
“A lot of alcohol, a lot of drugs, a lot of risk taking… but we’ve really seen the culture of schoolies change over the last few years.
“I think that’s really around the education seminars that the Red Frogs have been doing in schools,” Mr George said.