Schoolies on Sunshine Coast expected to reach thousands
Volunteers have changed strategy for unofficial schoolies celebrations this year on the back of a large increase in graduates planning to hit the Sunshine Coast in a few weeks.
The Queensland Government has banned official end of year schoolies celebrations but organisations like Red Frogs are expecting thousands of teenagers to converge on the Sunshine Coast in November.
Red Frogs National Schoolies Coordinator Chris George said the region could expect to see 5000 graduates celebrating the end of Year 12 this year.
Mr George said the number of teenagers heading our way was much larger than usual due to leavers refusing to head to the Gold Coast.
With many schoolies staying near local beaches, Mr George said his organisation was concerned about the mental health of young visitors and their safety around the water.
"We know that the combination of mental health, drugs and alcohol and water are not good," he said.
Mr George said Red Frogs was working closely with police, lifesavers and other services to ensure the safety of young people.
While Mr George admitted the government had provided mixed messages over whether or not schoolies would happen due to COVID-19.
In August, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said all schoolies events in Queensland were cancelled due to coronavirus.
"This is a mass event, it poses high risk, high risk to people that attend, all of the young people but also the people that they come in contact with and of course their families and their friends," Mr Palaszczuk said.
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❌ no Schoolies Hub on the beach ❌ restrictions around gatherings ❌ no apartment gathos due to House Rules ❌ global pandemic Celebrations this year really may not live up to expectations. Are you and your friends prepared for the reality of what your end of year celebrations will actually look like (hello snooze fest)? Make sure you keep following us to make sure you're across everything official when it comes celebrating the end of school in 2020. . . . #schoolies #schooliesgc #schoolies20 #schooliesweek #schoolies2020 #schoolies2k20
Despite this ruling, parents have been contacting hotels, Airbnbs and family and friends to find temporary accommodation for their teens.
Mr George said Red Frogs would support schoolies with pancake cook-ups, helping to walk them home and other services that would all meet COVID-safe planning requirements.
Here are some support networks for schoolies:
Red Frogs 24 hour Hotline: 1300 557 123
Youth Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636
1800 Respect: 1800 737 732