Story by Craig Warhurst – 16th Nov 2012 5:00 AM
ACROSS the Gympie region, Year 12 graduates will put their high school years behind them today and prepare for the big adventure that is Schoolies Week.
While only a handful of Schoolies are expected on the Cooloola Coast and Sunshine Coast, police numbers at Rainbow Beach have been doubled.
At Gympie State High School, where the Year 12s finished yesterday, 98% of the graduates are off to the Gold Coast for Schoolies.
Vital safety message for graduates
As hundreds of Gympie schoolies celebrate their new-found freedom from today, emergency services are pleading with them to put their safety first.
Queensland Ambulance Service’s operations supervisor Cary Strong said Schoolies Week celebrations were an important rite of passage for many, but tragedy could occur if teens were complacent.
“While there are some great experiences to be had, there’s also many dangers Schoolies face. Alcohol and drug use, especially in young people, can greatly impair decision-making abilities and can lead to tragedy in the form of accidents, overdoses and assaults,” Mr Strong said.
“The best advice we can give schoolies is to look after their mates and call for help if they are in trouble.
“If someone’s had too much to drink, overdosed on drugs, or has been injured, stay with them and call for help by phoning 000. If someone is unconscious make sure they are rolled on their side and their airway is clear so that they can breathe properly.
“Drink spiking does happen so never accept drinks from strangers or let your own drinks out of your sight.”
Mr Strong warned schoolies to be especially careful in high-rise buildings and to avoid balcony hopping.
Warnings issued for schoolies
Gympie Schoolies descending on the Gold Coast next week have been warned that court appearances from excess partying could seriously affect their future job and travel plans.
Parents who supply alcohol to their kids are also being warned they could face criminal charges if they do so.
Gold Coast criminal defence lawyer Bill Potts said the courts were becoming increasingly unsympathetic to teenage Schoolie excess and in particular could come down hard on parents who supplied alcohol to their partying teenagers.
“The last thing that most of the Schoolies will be thinking about this month would be the long-term consequences of their celebrations,” he said.
“They’re all out for a good time, but if they are not thinking clearly then we just have to hope their parents take on the message of the possible lifetime consequences of illegal behaviour.”
Mr Potts said the court’s attitude to drunken public violence was hardening, as was its crackdown on drug offences.
“If Schoolies do something stupid and are arrested and convicted it could hinder their career and travel prospects for the rest of their lives,” he said.
He urged parents not to supply alcohol to their children during Schoolies Week.
“The Liquor Act provides heavy penalties for individuals who sell alcohol to minors just as do licensed premises.
“An adult must not supply liquor to a minor in a private place, unless the adult is a responsible adult for the minor. Even then they can only supply the alcohol under strict conditions of responsible supervision of the minor, which is not going to happen if the adult knows it is going to be consumed unsupervised in Schoolies week.”
On the Gold Coast, a treatment centre will be set up next to the main hub on The Esplanade at Surfers Paradise, where more than 16 paramedics and a management team will be stationed. More than 20 SES volunteers will support them.