With the annual Gold Coast Schoolies celebration due to launch this weekend, local lawyer Bruce Simmonds has renewed a call for tough safety measures for this year’s crop of school leavers.
Alcohol, drugs and dicing with death on high rise balconies have given the annual school leaver celebrations on the Gold Coast an unwanted national stigma, and Mr Simmonds says some ‘tough love’ measures are needed to save lives.
Mr Simmonds, Litigation Director of Broadbeach law firm Parker Simmonds Solicitors and Lawyers, said past Schoolies events had more than their share of tragedies such as students falling to their deaths from high rise balconies.
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“Ultimately all of the ‘stay safe’ warnings in the world won’t work if the kids ignore them. The message must be to warn Schoolies to behave and look after one another as ultimately there will be no one to blame but themselves if they take drugs or consume alcohol and put themself in danger,” he said.
“Too many kids seem to have led lives protected from the real risks of the real world. They leave school and hit Schoolies and for many of them it’s the first time they have been exposed to the hard reality of life and the temptations of alcohol, drugs and partying,” he said.
Queensland Schoolies will be partying between 21- 28 November while Southern state school leavers have from 28 November to 12 December to celebrate.
Mr Simmonds said parents can’t afford to stand back and just assume their kids will be safe and behave. “Parents have a role they can play especially through social media. One option is to have a ‘roll call’ via text message at midnight each night and have an action plan if a Schoolie fails to log in,” he said.
His safety call follows the trend of recent years where injured Schoolies have later sought compensation for accidents incurred during the end of year revelry.
Mr Simmonds, who has handled injury compensation claims related to Schoolies incidents, said prevention should be the major objective especially with the volatile mix of drunken teenagers, many away from home and parental control for the first time, partying with no thought of the consequences.
“As a parent I’m also in favour of accident prevention and there are some ‘tough love’ measures available for those kids who need them.”
He applauded moves by some Gold Coast apartment complexes in past years to lock balcony doors and prevent schoolies from accessing balconies, describing it as a much-needed commonsense approach.
As well as locked high rise balconies, he called for ID passes for building access, tough security and parental midnight roll calls as ways to make Schoolies 2015 the safest ever.
“More needs to be done. ID passes should be compulsory for anyone trying to get into an apartment complex and there needs to be tighter security around all accommodation complexes,” he said. “It just reminds the kids of a responsibility they have and could be an assurance to nervous parents to.”