Schoolies is a right of passage marking the end of formal school years. It’s an exciting and eagerly anticipated event on a high school student’s calendar, but a major cause of worry for parents and guardians. This article will hopefully put minds at rest as we look at safety at schoolies and show teenagers how they can have a safer schoolies experience.
Who can go to schoolies?
Schoolies is for anyone graduating Year 12, or a TAFE equivalent, or who was scheduled to complete Year 12 for the current year but dropped out of school for work or other reasons.
You don’t have to be 18 to go to schoolies. If you graduate as a 17-year-old there are lots of all-ages events organised, and you can still enjoy the experience with your friends.
Toolies – those too old to be graduating in the current year, and Foolies – those too young to be graduating in the current year, are not eligible for event wristbands and are discouraged from attending.
You may also hear the expressions “moolie” or “doolie” bandied around. That’s a mum or dad who either accompanies their child to schoolies, or goes away with a group of other moolies and doolies for their own “kids-have-graduated” celebration. If you plan on being a moolie or doolie at schoolies, please note that you will not be able to gain access to any official schoolies events, and (take this from someone who accidentally booked a Gold Coast trip away during schoolies week) you’ll find it much more relaxing to be as far away as possible!
How do you get a Gold Coast schoolies wristband?
Official Gold Coast schoolies wristbands are issued by the Queensland Government. They are free for genuine school leavers attending schoolies on the Gold Coast. Other states and destinations (including other parts of Queensland) may do things differently, issuing wristbands per event or per organiser.
Your Gold Coast schoolies wristband is unique to you and your ID. It is not transferable and is valid for seven days, either week one or week two. It must be collected in person from the Wristband Centre on Surfers Paradise Boulevard. You must also pre-register for your wristband and prove your identity. Pre-registration opens in September each year.
Alcohol and drugs at schoolies
Many of the official events at schoolies are for all ages. They are alcohol- and drug-free zones. The entertainment provided is designed to be high energy with a strong party vibe, where attendees don’t feel the need to be drunk to have a great time.
Passes and wristbands are required for all organised events, and only schoolies who prove they are over 18 can enter events, bars, or nightclubs where alcohol is served.
That said, most kids will get drunk at schoolies. Hopefully you have had conversations with your child and set expectations on limits and behaviours.
Whether your child is under or over 18, remind them that in Queensland:
- It is illegal to drink in public, and
- It is illegal to be drunk in a public place
but don’t overstate it. Authorities know the kids are there to celebrate, and their focus is on keeping kids safe, not on making unnecessary arrests.
Unfortunately, some will be tempted to experiment with drugs, or will be offered them. Hopefully your child is smart enough to say no to drugs and is with a good group of friends of a similar mindset. The Queensland Government has these tips for safer schoolies to help them say no:
- simply say no and let the person know that you really mean it.
- stand up straight and make eye contact when saying no.
- be prepared with an excuse just in case e.g., nah, not tonight / I’m not feeling great / I’ve got plans for tomorrow I don’t want to ruin.
- change the subject.
- remove yourself from the situation.
- find something else to do with other friends.
Schoolies Red Frogs
Red Frog schoolies volunteers provide safety and support to schoolies across Australia. They act as the eyes and ears in schoolies accommodation, party venues, and out on the streets, providing a positive peer presence to school leavers.
Red Frogs assist and entertain schoolies with:
- pancake cook-ups
- room visits and games
- room cleans, and
- emotional support
All provided in a friendly and non-judgemental way.
Program the Red Frogs phone number – 1300 557 123 – into your school leaver’s phone so that they can call to request a walk-home or assistance. As a parent or guardian, you can also call this number to request a Red Frog check in on your child.
Find out more about the Red Frogs here
Safer Schoolies Volunteers
You can find Safer Schoolies Volunteers inside the Gold Coast Schoolies Beach Hub (look for the bright orange vests). They’re there to help you if you need a walk home, are feeling unwell, have a friend who has drunk too much or just need a friendly face to talk to.
General safety tips
- You’re going to schoolies with a group of friends, so stick together. Always have at least one reliable friend by your side.
- Never leave an event alone, or with someone you don’t know well. Likewise, never leave any of your friends alone.
- Remember that consent matters. Being drunk is no excuse for not gaining consent, and someone who is drunk is not capable of giving consent.
- Don’t go into the water at night. Lifeguards may not be on duty, and your reaction times and judgement may not be functioning at their best.
- Stay hydrated. Wear sunscreen. Wear shoes (you don’t want to go barefoot into broken glass or vomit!). Your personal safety includes your basic health – look after it!
- Walk away from confrontation. Remember, one punch can kill. Everyone wants to get home safely from schoolies, and with only good memories.
- Be social media aware – you might not post anything embarrassing, but someone else could post embarrassing pictures of you.
Official organisers or going it alone?
You can organise all aspects of your schoolies experience yourself. If you are travelling overseas for schoolies, be sure to organise travel insurance and familiarise yourself with the local laws. If you are staying in Australia, sharing accommodation with friends is a great way to save money, and you can look out for each other. Remember to wear your wristband and take proof of ID wherever you go – and check in with your parents regularly for their peace of mind.
Over the years, many organisations have formed to help provide a comprehensive schoolies experience as a whole package, including exclusively booking out whole hotels for schoolies accommodation, organising all-ages events and activities, photo passes, wristbands, and dedicated helplines. If you prefer to have someone else take over all the organising, look up:
- Tribe Travel
- Sure Thing Schoolies
- Schoolies Central
One last thing, if you are celebrating schoolies on the Gold Coast, we’ve found some awesome Schoolies activities to make your safer schoolies memorable!