ROSIES volunteers parked near the corner of Cavill Avenue in Surfers Paradise were handing out cups of water and friendly chats despite fewer school leavers walking past their street van as official Gold Coast Schoolies events were scrapped amid COVID-19 concerns.
Rosies Youth Mission volunteer and outreach manager Jonathon Cowley said normally the government puts on the two stages with DJs “to try and draw school leavers and other people out of the hotels as a diversionary tactic, (and) get them to burn off a bit of energy”.
“Obviously this isn’t happening this year,” he said.
“There is that potential that maybe some school leavers won’t go out as much as they used to.”
But Mr Cowley had been on the esplanade last Saturday and said school leavers had emerged from their hotels late into the night, some with their own sound systems, to enjoy themselves safely on the beach.
After the Gold Coast events had been cancelled, many school leavers had decided to head to the Sunshine Coast instead.
Thousands of school leavers descended on Noosa beach and left it so littered that it had to be closed to the public.
The big concern was glass bottles and shards in the sand, which had proven such a danger a children’s group was unable to meet up at Main Beach the next morning.
In a statement on social media, Noosa Council said the beach had reopened about 12 hours later.
“Our crews and cleaning contractors have meticulously cleaned the beach and removed overnight rubbish,” a statement said.
“Huge thanks to those workers out this morning.”
It was clear a lack of official events was not going to stop school leavers celebrating a graduation year unlike any other in recent years.
Mr Cowley said the Gold Coast Rosies team had 35 volunteers – gloved up and socially distanced – helping out across the seven days of week one, which was the Queensland schoolies week.
“We try and, where practical, keep (social) distance; however, of course, if we’re providing assistance to a young person and we do need to get a bit closer to them than the 1.5 metres and provide that assistance then we’ll do so in a thoughtful manner,” he said.
“We have masks available and all the PPE you’d expect with COVID at the moment.”
Rosies has been helping school leavers on the Gold Coast since 1987, the longest-running non-government organisation to do so.
To find out more information, visit: rosies.org.au