As tens of thousands of school leavers descend on the Gold Coast and other parts of Australia to celebrate, authorities have taken to the streets and issued severe warnings to revelers.
About 20,000 high school students are expected to attend the first week of celebrations across the Gold Coast, with additional police officers called on to monitor the school leavers.
Police Secretary Mark Ryan issued a chilling warning over the weekend, urging this year’s graduates to avoid the mistakes of years past.
He said while schoolies have become an Australian “rite of passage” for many, it is important to put safety first.
“I urge all young people to take care of their buddies, stick together and look out for one another. Be aware of your surroundings and be careful on high-rise balconies.
“Charge your phones, plan ahead and check in with loved ones back home.
“And remember – no one likes a ‘toolie’. Leave this week to the young people who have worked hard and deserve to celebrate their achievements responsibly.”
In 2019, Melbourne graduate Charlie Scott died after falling from a high-rise hotel balcony.
The 18-year-old was celebrating with friends when he fell from the Hilton Tower at around 2.30am.
A year earlier, Hamish Bigood had fallen from an 11th floor balcony at the Surf Regency Apartments on the Gold Coast.
His father told The Daily Telegraph at the time his son was having hallucinations after drinking and inhaling nitrous oxide.
He called for a ban on jerry cans, colloquially known as ‘nangs’, and said the balconies of apartment blocks rented out to students during school terms should be cordoned off.
“He was having fun, he still had it all… We’ve lost him now,” he said.
Queensland Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll said there will be an increased police presence in the Gold Coast this week, with an estimated 130 officers on duty in the school district each night.
“Police are here to keep everyone safe,” Commissioner Carroll said.
“I would encourage youngsters to engage with the Schoolies crews this week.
“We are here to support school leavers and would like to encourage them to seek out the integrated health and well-being area if they need emergency medical services and assistance, including access to specialized mental health support.
Police will conduct random searches for hidden weapons within the Safe Night district, while governing bodies will check the venue for underage and fake IDs.
School leavers are encouraged to visit the Recharge Zones within the Schoolies Hub and along the Esplanade if they require water or assistance.
Destination Gold Coast CEO Patricia O’Callaghan said Gold Coast businesses are looking forward to the launch of the Schoolies.
“We know it’s been a really difficult two years and we hope this year’s leavers can celebrate together and make the most of the incredible range of experiences the Gold Coast has to offer,” said Ms O’Callaghan.
“Accommodation providers tell us bookings are strong and we expect the economic benefits to flow throughout the region.”
Other states are also preparing for thousands of high school students to celebrate in their cities.
Nearly 10,000 school leavers will be partying this year on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula, while another 3,000 are expected on the Bass and Surf Coast in towns such as Phillip Island, Cowes and Torquay.
That Herald Sun School leavers traveling to Mornington Peninsula, Phillip Island and the Surf Coast are reportedly being asked to pay up to $2,500 for bonds and a guarantee not to make excessive noise in residential areas.
Originally posted as schoolies descend on the Gold Coast as police issue warnings