If you’re a parent of a teen who is heading to 2019 Schoolies celebrations, there’s a wealth of information available online to help both of you prepare (it’s never too late!).

Festivities take place from Saturday November 16 until Friday November 22, with the largest gathering happening at Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast.

The Queensland Government’s Safer Schoolies initiative has been created to help Schoolies and their parents get ready for the celebrations and ensure the week is a safe and enjoyable one. (If your child is heading to a location other than the Gold Coast to celebrate, most of the advice is transferrable and still worth reading. Some separate information on alternative locations is also available here.)

Videos, advice and practical tips

The Safer Schoolies website contains a dedicated parent page, which has short videos on lots of useful topics like how to chat to your teen about the week, how to support them during the celebrations, and the basics about alcohol, drugs and the law.

Downloadable checklists – one for you and one for your teen – summarises a lot of the practical reminders.

A separate set of short videos and factsheets for teens is on the For Schoolies page.

Common concerns

If you’re worried about how your child will navigate issues around drugs and alcohol, consent, and keeping safe in high rise accommodation, the Safer Schoolies for Parents Facebook page has a 30 minute live Facebook event (recorded on October 31 this year and still accessible) which answers many common questions.

It also explains some of the safety measures in place on the Gold Coast including an alcohol-free Schoolies Hub, chill out zones and volunteers on hand to supervise and assist teens.

The SchooliesGC Facebook page is designed for teens and contains lots of practical information for them like how to get an official wristband for access to the Schoolies Hub and where they can find help if they need it.

Lots of good ideas

There are plenty of great insider tips for parents. Some of the great ones we came across while reviewing the Safer Schoolies website and Facebook pages were

  • ensuring there are plans in place for your teenager’s food for the week; if you live close, perhaps offer to bring a home cooked meal to them during the week or come and cook for them and their friends one night.
  • understand they might want to come home early from Schoolies and reassure them it is okay if that happens
  • help them work out a daily budget and a back-up financial plan if they need emergency funds
  • pre-organise a time for you and your teen to check in with each other each day of the festival – whether it’s via text or a quick five minute call
  • get your teen to download the free Emergency+ App which will help identify their location if they end up in an emergency situation
  • organise a Go Card for public transport if they don’t already have one.

Your teen still needs you!

In one of the online videos, Safer Schoolies Welfare Co-ordinator Angela Driscoll says while peers are a really big influence at this time in your child’s life, “parents can be as well and it’s important to try and stay close’’.

“When it comes to talking to your young people about Schoolies, obviously that’s really dependent on the relationship that you have with them up until this point but it’s also possible to start a conversation where there isn’t that degree of closeness,” she says

“…you can really ask for their honesty, ask them to tell you about the sort of things they do now, what they are expecting to do at Schoolies, how they feel about those things, how they feel about staying with their friends and the influence their friends have on them.’’

In the same video, a past Schoolies parent also urges parents to open the conversation channels before the event.

“I think sometimes as parents we assume that our children know more than they do,’’ she says.

“They might know a little bit but some stuff I think is worth talking about like the dangers of drugs, drink spiking, the effects of alcohol and you know Facebook images being put up that are inappropriate.’’