Cunning plan to tame smashed Schoolies
SCHOOLIES organisers have a new plan this year to keep out-of-control high school grads in check - by reminding them that smartphones are always watching.
While the perennial "be safe and watch your mates" is still the predominant message splashed right around the city - including on fence cordoning off exclusive Schoolie areas - it isn't the only point organisers are trying to make.
Electronic billboards sitting at the entrance of Surfers Paradise beach, where around 20,000 Schoolies are expected to party for the next week, flash with social-media heavy reminders.
"Don't let a photo ruin a future," one message reads with a concerned teen staring at her phone.
On another screen, photos of teens hunched over in gutters, passed out on beaches and standing naked on balconies are scattered around the message, "Watch your selfie. Schoolies your futures could be over in a flash. You never know who's watching."
Organisers are also encouraging kids to be mindful of what they put on their own social media accounts with the message, "Public or private? Know your account settings", serving as another reminder.
These public messages were repeated by Gold Coast Schoolies Advisory Group chairman Mark Raeburn yesterday, who told reporters the social media age was making Schoolies kids tamer than previous years.
"The kids are much more image conscious than they used to be," Mr Raeburn said. "Gone are the days of 'I've just skolled a bottle of scotch and look at me aren't I tough'."
Despite organisers' hopes this year's Schoolies will behave, Mr Raeburn said troublemakers would still be dealt with just as harshly.
"If you want to be arrested, this is the place to come and be an idiot," he said.
Schoolies organisers aren't the only ones issuing advice ahead of what will undoubtably be a wild two weeks.
NSW Health has said its biggest concern for Schoolies was the spread of chlamydia, encouraging teens to always wear a condom.
According to the NSW STI Data Report 2017, chlamydia remains the most common STI among young people, with over 29,000 cases detected last year - the majority among 15-30 year olds.
Speaking to reporters yesterday, Gold Coast Women's Health Dr Donna Tanchey delivered the same message.
"We want them to take home memories, not STIs," Dr Tanchey said.
The Centre for Population Health's NSW Sti programs unit head Dr Chris Bourne said more STI cases were being detected because of increased and better targeted testing.
"Condoms are the best protection against STIs, and if you have unprotected sex, see your doctor for testing. STIs often have no symptoms, so don't delay," Dr Bourne said.
"While schoolies should be a fun time after the stresses of exams, look after yourself and your mates."
Queensland Police were also working hard to clean up the streets before Schoolies kicks off, arresting 36 people from a Gold Coast drug ring that allegedly had its sights set on school leavers.
Gold Coast Superintendent Mark White told reporters police would be using a number of strategies to prevent drugs reaching Schoolies kids.
"If people think they come into this event and gain some advantage or push drugs onto young people they are going to be in for a rude shock," he told reporters.
On Friday, detectives seized a significant amount of ice, liquid fantasy, MDMA and cannabis - equating to an approximate street value of $15,000.
No arrests were made overnight as a few of the 22,000 Schoolies begin their descent on the Gold Coast, but police said they were on high alert.
"Queensland Police will today be monitoring the influx of teenagers as they arrive and book into their accommodation," a statement read.
"Police are hopeful that revellers will continue to behave in a responsible manner as the week unfolds.
"Police will not hesitate to take enforcement action against anyone found in possession of, supplying, trafficking or producing dangerous drugs."