Schoolies: 'You’re 18, you’re on your own’
THE MP for Surfers Paradise is calling for an urgent review of Schoolies after the latest instalment coincided with an alleged rape, balcony fall death and scores of arrests.
Member for Surfers Paradise John-Paul Langbroek yesterday said any review should look at whether commercial participants could help fund a beefed up safety response and if government should provide official support in Week Two, not just Week One.
It comes after the balcony fall death of Victorian teen Charlie Scott and alleged rape of an 18-year-old interstate schoolie during Week Two celebrations.
Surfers Paradise Licensed Venues Association president Tim Martin echoed Mr Langbroek adding week two - when there is no government safety response but typically 6000 interstate school-leavers aged 18 plus - needed a less hands-off approach.
Mr Langbroek also warned his understanding was next year week one Queensland Schoolies would involve mostly 18-plus kids too due to a prep year change filtering through.
"We need to look at the government response," he said.
"There needs to be a review of what's happening to decide whether the Department of Child Safety has some level of involvement (week two)."
Cross Promotions co-owner Billy Cross, who organises week two beach concerts, officially approached State Government last year about taking over week one entertainment too.
"Our last presentation on Schoolies was why don't we take the beach concept and help fund more support. We pay for even more resources, make it even safer. What John-Paul Langbroek is saying is spot on.
"We can pay X amount of dollars for more on top of the response already."
Mr Cross said he was keen, in partnership with the Schoolies.com accommodation provider, to organise a festival - including daytime sports and amusement rides - for an entire fortnight, not just week two when his Cross Promotions runs beach concerts.
"Between us we can have the kids there, control them and put on these special events. We are creating a safe environment. In seven years we have never had an incident at our festivals.
"But there is no official safety response in that second week. We pay to have police, our own security, our own medical triage, an ambulance on standby."
Mr Cross said Schoolies had improved markedly from 15 years ago when it was a "free-for-all" and the government response now was much improved: "But let's take that up a step even further."
Mr Martin said this year's schoolies were some of the best behaved in his memory but he wished there was a stronger "support network" for Week Two.
"I don't understand why we don't have a similar or at minimum half response," he said.
"I don't think it's fair to say, 'You're 17, so we're going to do all this for you because you're not adults,' and the next week, 'You're 18, go for gold, you're on your own'.
"I don't think we do enough for them.
State Government's Safer Schoolies team confirmed their involvement finished in Week One.
The Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women said it was "highly unlikely" they would be able to provide a response by deadline.
A Queensland Police spokeswoman said its "multi-agency operation" concluded in Week One.
"NSW and Victorian school leavers are mostly aged 18 and therefore not underage and able to attend all venues and events on the Gold Coast," she said.
"Additional police responses are utilised during this two-week period but it is not a multi-agency operation due to the age (adults) of the participants."