As we head towards the end of the year, it is almost time for Year 12 students across WA to celebrate the end of their high school life with Leavers week.
Leavers – or Schoolies – is often highly anticipated by Year 12 students as a time to let their hair down and celebrate all they have achieved in the past year and across their high school life. However, it is normal for parents to be somewhat anxious about Leavers and the situations their student will encounter during the week.
After diligently working through high school and surviving their exams, students view it as a chance to let their hair down and participate in a week of social activities with their friends. Parents who prepare their children for potential pitfalls at Schoolies discover it can be a great experience for everyone.
This year WA Leavers will be held from Monday, November 23 through to Thursday, November 26 in Dunsborough. It will also take on a slightly different feel this year, with WA Police ensuring all students can have fun at scheduled events while also meeting the COVID-19 health requirements.
If you’re feeling anxious about letting your teenager go to Leavers, you’re not alone. The press covers massive parties across the country and is quick to report on the dangers of Schoolies events. Having frank conversations with your child before they leave is the best way to prepare them. Even those Year 12s who give off an aura of bravado – or determined innocence – will benefit from your advice if they’re faced with a situation, they haven’t had enough experience to handle.
Where are the most popular Leavers locations?
Normally, schoolies events happen all over the country and overseas. The most popular areas include Dunsborough (Western Australia), the Gold Coast (Queensland), the Sunshine Coast, Byron Bay, Victor Harbor (South Australia), and Lorne and Torquay (Victoria). Overseas destinations are also popular, especially for students from WA who have good accessibility to Bali.
Leavers is here to stay
The first thing to keep in mind is Schoolies week is a lot of fun. The vast majority of teenagers enjoy parties, dances, and social events designed especially for them. Local communities, police, and an assortment of business and community groups are well organised to support Year 12s to ensure they have fun and keep safe. Use this Schoolies checklist to ensure your child has everything they need for a safe and fun week.
How to manage risky behaviour during Leavers
Undoubtedly, your child will be testing boundaries while they’re away. It’s a natural part of growing up. It will also be one of the first times Year 12s have complete freedom from their parent’s watchful eye – and good advice. Equip them with enough information about what they’re bound to encounter before they leave and they’ll be better placed to manage an unexpected situation.
Some of the common pitfalls for teenagers during Leavers include:
- Binge drinking – Talk to your child about the dangers of excessive alcohol consumption and ensure they can recognise symptoms of alcohol poisoning. Everyone should be aware of how the human body processes alcohol and why different people – and different sized people – will have different experiences with intoxication.
- Illegal drugs – Your children should know different drugs have different impacts and how to get help if they’ve consumed drugs intentionally or unintentionally.
- Unsafe behavior – Your teenager should know where to find help if they fall victim to diseases, assault and sexual health issues. This applies to both girls and boys and includes information about COVID-19.
Advice from the WA Police
All Schoolies functions have a strong police presence designed to keep children safe. The WA Police have created basic rules for school leavers to ensure Year 12s celebrate in a safe and responsible way. They’re good rules for any occasion but especially helpful during Leavers week.
- Party safely and care for your friends.
- Respect the communities you visit and the people living in those communities.
- Drive safely and respect the wellbeing of your passengers and other road users at all times.
- Make your Leavers something to remember, not something to forget.
Resources for teenagers going to Schoolies
Australia is well organised for Leavers and parents can find helpful information for before, during and after the event. The following resources are excellent for parents and children.
- Leavers WA 2020 is a website from the Western Australia government to support parents and teenagers participating in Schoolies.
- Drinkwise provides excellent information about drinking for people of all ages.
- AlcoholThinkAgain has good information for Year 12s before they leave for Schoolies and while they’re there.
- Drug Aware shows where to get help, teaches people how to identify if they need help, and tells how to determine if a mate needs help.
- Schools, Drug Education and Road Aware has great information on how to keep your child safe during Leavers and how to find good transport alternatives.
- Red Frogs provides over 1500 volunteers for direct relief, safety and support to young people during Schoolies/Leavers Week across 16 locations. Red Frogs is known for making thousands of pancakes, offering room visits and games, helping with room cleaning, providing emotional support, walking students home and having a seemingly endless supply of red frogs on hand. They attend Murdoch events and do a great job looking after young people.
Thinking differently about Leavers
In the course of your discussions with your teen, you might find your child is feeling less confident about their ability to cope with Leavers week. You also may not feel comfortable after weighing up all the information available, especially as it applies to your child. Many parents find other ways to commemorate the end of an era and it’s worth suggesting alternatives as a way to test the waters. A camping trip with friends, a cruise with the family or a holiday where your child chooses the itinerary may be the best solution for your child. Make sure they know they don’t have to attend Leavers, especially if they don’t want to go. Giving your Year 12 student a legitimate way of avoiding Leavers is an option some children appreciate but won’t necessarily suggest.
A final reminder about Leavers/Schoolies
A positive Leavers experience is a great way to kick off a university career and begin the next chapter of an exciting transition to adulthood.