HSC leavers are booking organised schoolies tours as an alternative to the Gold Coast to ensure their safety and parents’ peace of mind.
Students are able to book up to two years ahead for destinations such as Bali, Fiji, Vanuatu, Byron Bay and the Gold Coast. Unleashed Travel specifically organises schoolies trips to exotic locations for 17 to 18 year olds.
Unleashed crew member Matthew Stubbs told The Newsroom:
“The setup of the unleashed islands means that there are only schoolies on the islands.”
“Making the islands exclusive to schoolies students has created an environment that prevents anti-social behaviour from ‘Toolies’ (older men pretending to be schoolies), which is one of the main contributing factors causing conflict and anti-social behaviour on the Gold Coast and in Bali.”
He said the crew worked closely with resort security and local police to solve problems on the islands.
“Binge drinking is closely monitored by a wristband system. Basically, if you are classified as being intoxicated your wristband will be removed. There is a zero-tolerance policy on fighting, resulting in the people involved being sent home immediately.”
Unleashed traveler Karina Deo, 19, from Ingleburn, spent her schoolies trip on Mana Island, Fiji in 2011.
“I had the most amazing time – my girlfriends and I chose to travel with Unleashed because it was a much safer option for us as we were under-age at the time,” she said.
“I highly recommend it. The Gold Coast is so expensive now, we spent just as much as a few of our friends that went to Queensland and we went to an island paradise.”
Unleashed has also introduced “schoolies alternatives” such as Thailand Building Volunteers where leavers spend two weeks helping erect and renovate facilities in the community that are in desperate need of restoration.
The Gold Coast traditionally attracts tens of thousands of schoolies each year and remains a hot spot for the majority of young party-goers. After years of bad publicity, the Gold Coast has implemented better policing and more restrictions on public alcohol consumption in order to control the large crowds that gather annually.
Sports administrator Michael Strong, from Sydney’s Broughton Anglican College, believes that unless school leavers book with a tour group, the Gold Coast is a safer option than overseas destinations.
“I think the Gold Coast environment lends towards the new YOLO (You Only Live Once) culture that has risen in today’s youth,” Mr Strong said.
“Even when I was young, men and women took risks. So I’m inclined to think this is inherently an Australian culture that has existed for some time.
“[Schoolies Week] is a great opportunity to let off steam and enjoy the company of your peers. However, there are inherent dangers associated with the consumption of drugs and alcohol that occurs when students visit certain venues, such as the Gold Coast, where it is encouraged or expected.
“If young people act responsibly in this environment schoolies can be a memorable, safe and enjoyable experience. The concept of students doing their own schoolies thing at a beach house is a far safer concept and a better environment for young people to be in during this time.” – Charlie-rose Mielczarek