Top marks for start to Schoolies but bigger test looms

Laine Clark |

Police have praised the behaviour of people at Schoolies on the Gold Coast.
Police have praised the behaviour of people at Schoolies on the Gold Coast.

School may be out but year 12 graduates appear to have learnt another lesson on the Gold Coast – be safe and look out for your mates.

Police have praised the behaviour of teenagers after a quiet start on the tourist strip to Australia’s largest Schoolies celebration.

But authorities fear wet weather forecast this week may create headaches.

More than 20,000 teens are set to converge on the Gold Coast to toast the end of school, with festivities officially kicking off on the weekend.

Just six schoolies have been arrested, mostly for public nuisance.

There were 18 schoolies arrests after the first weekend last year.

About 120 graduates were treated at the emergency treatment centre at Surfers Paradise with only seven taken to hospital, mostly for intoxication.

“But the levels of intoxications are much lower than they have been historically – it’s really good to see,” Queensland Ambulance Service’s Justin Payne said.

“We are seeing a lot of sober friends willing to help out their mates – we want to echo (the message) ‘be safe and watch your mates’.”

Queensland Police’s Acting Superintendent Peter Miles said it was encouraging to see schoolies had each other’s back this year.

“We can’t fault this group at this stage,” he said.

“If you’ve got that one friend who can get a bit loose and a bit stupid, look out for them because they will get a ticket.”

Even the toolies – older revellers who are not school graduates – are behaving themselves.

Only 20 toolies have been arrested, well down on last year’s numbers.

“I have done a few Schoolies myself – as a police officer, not as a toolie – and this vibe is really good,” Acting Supt Miles said.

“When you are delving into that youth crime side of things all the time it can get a little bit negative and jaded so this has been refreshing.

“Moving forward I think we have got a good cohort that will pay my pension.”

But a big challenge may lay ahead with showers forecast for this week.

Acting Supt Miles said he hoped the weather did not encourage schoolies to drink indoors.

“This could be a bit of a game changer,” he said.

He urged students staying indoors to be respectful neighbours and keep the noise down.

“The last thing we want to see is that you are going to be evicted and be on the side of the Gold Coast highway with your bags packed, having to go home early,” he said.

“That’s not fun, especially when you have taken 13 years to get here.”

About 13,500 graduates have so far grabbed wristbands as part of the Queensland government’s Safer Schoolies Response program.

The wristbands provide access to the alcohol and drug-free Schoolies Hub on Surfers Paradise that offers free entertainment and support services.