ANDY Gourley has some good news for parents and young people about Schoolies 2019.
“The behaviour at Schoolies has changed radically; it’s so much safer than back in the day,” Mr Gourley, the Red Frogs Australia Chaplaincy Network national co-ordinator, said.
“Also, young people aren’t drinking as much these days either and (young people are) looking after each other really well.
“Overall, it’s a lot different than back in the day but you do still get those hectic situations.”
Since Mr Gourley first went down to Schoolies with a group of skateboarders in 1997, there have been great strides in referral networks and debriefing.
“We’ve got a lot of processes in place for critical incidents that we offload to the experienced organisations that deal with those areas,” he said.
“But also for our volunteers, that we make sure they get debriefed, they get supported and I guess journey through some of those heavy situations as you do encounter.”
Mr Gourley also had some good advice for parents of Schoolies.
“I think, for parents, it’s very important you stock them up with a lot of food and water in particular; they just don’t think to shop for themselves,” he said.
“Make sure you encourage them to stay in groups.
“Get them to download the Red Frog App, where they can get walk-homes and random acts of pancakes as well.
“Put the Red Frog hotline number in their phone – last year we had 9615 call-outs (from) young people accessing the Red Frogs.”
Mr Gourley also told parents to do their homework, as there were many options to send young people for Schoolies.
He was recently at Ignite Conference 2019, searching for volunteers to join Red Frogs for the upcoming Schoolies Week.
“Ignite is one of the most cutting-edge, amazing youth ministries in Australia; it just produces a great breed of young worker that comes down and relates really well with the schoolies,” Mr Gourley said.
“Our programs … (include) walking schoolies home late at night so they don’t get assaulted, and we make sure they’re not doing silly things on those verandahs and doing random acts of pancakes while they’re pre-drinking.
“The Ignite team coming down has been absolutely brilliant.”
Mr Gourley said it was always good to source local workers.
“We find locals work with locals the best, so our sourcing local workers to come down and work with their local kids during Schoolies celebrations is gold for us,” he said.
Mr Gourley described Red Frogs as a “practical demonstration of what love is”.
He said they were not there to judge young people vomiting in the gutters or doing things they should not, “we’re there really picking up the pieces, making sure they don’t kill themselves in that process”.
Mr Gourley said the amount of interventions during sexual assaults, suicide ideations and even rescuing people from drug abuse was amazing.
It was about being in the right place at the right time, he said.
Each year Red Frogs encounters about 80,000 schoolies in 17 locations around Australia, and they talk to about 60,000 Year 12 students across Australia prior to Schoolies Week.
They speak to almost every Year 12 student in South East Queensland.
“To support Red Frogs, you can go to our website redfrogs.com.au and you can sponsor a worker to go,” Mr Gourley said.
“You can collect pancake shakers through your local parish; we go through about 100,000 pancakes over that time.
“But also just to pray for the teams is a great thing to do too.”