The right of passage that is Schoolies Week is just about to kick off here in Queensland and soon to follow in other states and territories across the country as Year 12 students around Australia celebrate the end of their schooling life.
While the media does tend to focus more on the negative events of the celebrations, we would like to take a moment to look at one of the positive initiatives that is implemented in Schoolies Week which involves thousands of volunteers at different venues around Australia providing support that is open and non-judgemental across every platform.
Founded 22 years ago, Red Frogs Australia carries the motto 'Supporting, Serving and Safeguarding Young People' as they prepare to welcome thousands of excited and impressionable school leavers to events all of over the country with the biggest one being on the Gold Coast.
"We have online training as well as face-to-face practical training sessions for our volunteers before they put the Red Frogs shirt on." Explains Bek Gilchrist of Red Frogs Australia. "This training includes general skills and also specific training relating to incidents such as intoxication or mental health issues."
With so many different elements involved with the management of Schoolies Week, Red Frogs sole priority is supporting the teenagers to ensure their celebrations are remembered for the right reasons. "There are a variety of different teams that make up the Red Frogs safety response." Said Bek. "This includes hotel teams, operations, entertainment, call centre, media, walk home team and crew support. This covers everything from operational overseeing the ins and outs of managing 600 volunteers, to our stage team, to cooking pancakes for Schoolies or walking them home."
The reassurance of support that the Red Frogs offers is an important element to many parents who may be apprehensive about their child attending an event such as Schoolies with some parents event coming back as volunteers themselves!
The organisations purpose and reason for success in their support network comes down to their vision: To reduce suffering and safeguard a generation of young people, acting as a positive peer presence to empower them to make positive life choices and become a voice of change within their culture.
As we slide into Schoolies Week, we would like to share some tips that were created from the awesome team at Red Frogs Australia to keep in mind for the upcoming festivities:
Red Frogs Tips for School Leavers:
- Never leave a mate behind! Always stay in groups of two or more and stay in well-lit areas.
- Respect Hotel Managers and their rules.
- Never leave your drink unattended and never accept drinks from others.
- Ask 'R U Okay' every day. Schoolies can be an emotionally stressful time, so make sure you are checking in with your friends every day.
- Charge your phone. If you get separated from your friends call the Red Frogs Hotline.
- Drink plenty of water and eat healthy meals.
- Check-in with your parents throughout the week.
- Be careful what you post on social media. Once a photo is out there, it’s out there forever.
- Know your boundaries and stick to them.
- Download the Red Frogs App and save the hotline number in your phone - but call 000 in an emergency.
Red Frogs Tips for Parents:
- Talk to your teen about Schoolies Week and how they plan to celebrate.
- Do not call or SMS your teen while they are driving down or home again - they don’t need the distraction.
- Stock your teen with a heap of pre-made meals for the week.
- Do not provide your teen with any alcohol. Although this might feel like you are protecting them, research has shown that providing them with alcohol actually leads to more risky behaviour.
- If your teen is over 18, encourage them to buy light beer, not full strength.
- Make sure your teen is stocked with slabs of water.
- Agree on check-in times and stay in touch during the week to make sure they are OK.
- Remind them to always stay with their friends.
- Make sure your teen has the Red Frogs hotline number saved in their phone and has downloaded our ‘Red Frogs’ app.
- Encourage them to call 000 in emergency situations, the official services are here to help.
We proudly support any organisation that focuses supporting the health and well being of young people and congratulate the team at Red Frogs and all of the incredible volunteers who make up this necessary and encourage everyone to check out their website for some more information about the amazing work that they do.
Whether you are a school leaver, a parent, a volunteer or involved in any of the support initiatives happening over schools, remember to always ask that important question to those that you are with 'Are you okay?' and also make sure you ask yourself that same question and reach out for help if you need it.
Stay safe, look after yourself, look after your mates and have fun!
Image Supplied by Red Frogs Australia
If you are struggling and need someone to talk to, check out our Get Help page for organisations that can help.