A HIGHER police presence at this year’s Schoolies Festival on the Gold Coast may have been a mixed blessing, with many young people being lulled into a false sense of security as the celebrations wore on, a Catholic social worker said.
Rebeccas Community director Dominic Mapstone said he received several unconfirmed reports of sexual assault and one of the group’s volunteers found a 10 year-old girl at risk among the Schoolies crowd.
The possibility of sexual assaults on the beach became a top priority for the group which was dedicated to maintaining the safety of school leavers as they enjoyed the end of year celebrations.
Fifty volunteers from Rebeccas Community joined other groups such as Rosies Youth Mission, Drug Arm, and police and emergency services personnel, to support the young crowd in having a good time in safety when they converged on the Coast from mid-November.
Mr Mapstone, a social worker formerly with Rosies, said many of school leavers felt a false sense of security.
‘You could see people getting into a comfort zone. Girls were walking home on their own late at night. They were getting into a comfort zone because there were so many police around.’
Mr Mapstone said he received reports of several sexual assaults, mainly in the sand dunes.
A spokeswoman for Gold Coast police said they had received four complaints of sexual assault during Schoolies but three of them were withdrawn by the complainants. The fourth is being investigated.
Rosies Youth Mission director John Dougherty said he was aware of reports of sexual assaults during Schoolies but Rosies had had no dealings with any victims.
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