Life & Style Weekend - - MAGAZINE | OUR SAY -


It’s the time of year where par­ents hope that all the time they’ve in­vested into their kids teach­ing them about self-re­spect and peer pres­sure has sunk in. There’s no doubt that some me­dia out­lets love to beat up the sto­ries be­hind the Schoolies Week de­bauch­ery, but from my ex­pe­ri­ence, it is those same news out­lets that are ini­ti­at­ing the con­flict. They were hun­gry to get a story, hid­ing in bushes to cap­ture a lit­tle scuf­fle and then mak­ing it into a big story that bor­rowed a small part of the truth and em­bel­lished the rest. Lis­ten, as a parent, I get it. There’s a lot of stress sur­round­ing schoolies but you can’t he­li­copter your kids. They need time to make mis­takes and you can only hope those mis­takes don’t neg­a­tively af­fect the rest of their lives. That said, if you can’t get over the fear of what might hap­pen, there are plenty of other op­tions for schoolies – just Google it. It doesn’t al­ways have to be about get­ting smashed and other forms of de­bauch­ery. I think the grad­u­ates in more re­cent years have got that, too. They seem smarter and more re­spon­si­ble than when I grad­u­ated. There’s the Kids’ Helpline, but I was think­ing there should be a par­ents’ helpline to help them get through the anx­i­ety of send­ing their kids to Schoolies. Well, it turns out there is one. Here’s the Par­ent­line num­ber: 1300 30 1300.


Some cul­tures char­ter their rite of pas­sage from youth to adult­hood with rit­u­als, tests of courage, feats of strength, wit and skill. And if you con­sider these el­e­ments: try­ing to book a ho­tel room in Surfers Par­adise for 16 mates, smug­gle in various items of con­tra­band and con­vince your par­ents to pay for it, you tick all those boxes. Schoolies Week has been around since the ’70s when grad­u­at­ing school leavers would travel from nearby board­ing schools to the Broad­beach Ho­tel for a week of rev­elry and shenani­gans. Now, more than 50,000 school leavers from around the coun­try hit up Surfers to see and be seen at the big­gest blue light disco you’ve ever seen, mas­sively sani­tised these days with an omi­nous po­lice and rent-a-cop pres­ence. I can’t think of any­thing worse. Maybe it’s my age. Maybe I am miss­ing some­thing. The at­trac­tion to the Gold Coast baf­fles me. Like a moth to a flame, surely the moth knows it ain’t gonna end well. But peer pres­sure and sheep men­tal­ity still rule the ma­jor­ity and ul­ti­mately the pas­sage from youth to adult is what it is all about. Per­haps that’s it: Schoolies wakes you up to just how cr-p fol­low­ing the flock to the GC is and pre­vents you from mak­ing sim­i­lar mis­takes in life. Now a dad with a few years left to pre­pare to be on the other side of the Schoolies story, I can al­ready feel the pang of not want­ing to dis­ap­point my daugh­ter by say­ing she can’t go, not give her the credit to make good de­ci­sions or let her go and hope for the best. None of the above re­ally ap­peal. Surely she can be bribed … how about over­seas travel? I’ll have to start sav­ing up now.


Af­ter 13 years of school­ing, there has to be a re­ward and for grad­u­ates. Schoolies is the per­fect place to let your hair down. While mum and dad are busy wor­ry­ing about their kids head­ing to Surfers Par­adise, the kids are busy work­ing part-time through school, just so they can pay the bond that they’ll never get back. Many par­ents like to dan­gle the car­rot and say, “If you don’t go to schoolies, I’ll take you on an over­seas hol­i­day or I’ll buy you a new car”. I ac­tu­ally know some peo­ple who said “no” be­cause they would rather have gone to Schoolies. What? I would take an over­seas hol­i­day any day. I never went to Schoolies, I had no in­ter­est in it. I had more op­por­tu­ni­ties than you could poke a stick at (which I’m su­per thank­ful for). I had just changed swim­ming coaches, I was also of­fered up a col­lege swim­ming schol­ar­ship to go over to the States to train and race (which I didn’t take) and then on top of that, I was also train­ing for the 2008 Bei­jing Olympic Tri­als. So, par­ty­ing at Schoolies was the last thing I was think­ing about. But, I lived vi­car­i­ously through my friends. Sun­bak­ing on the beach at Surfers and get­ting dolled up to go down to the hub at night. I felt like I was there, but still some­what so happy that I got to go to sleep in my own bed at night and wake up with no hang­over. Even though Schoolies doesn’t have a great rep­u­ta­tion, I think it’s still a great con­cept that the Year 12s can go out with a bang be­fore they pre­pare for the next chap­ter of their lives.

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