St John AmbulanceKrishna Rajendram is a Regional Officer with St John Ambulance.
What's been your experience of schoolies celebrations?
My experience has been that it's very popular with young people, but unpopular with parents. Having been on a schoolies holiday myself, I enjoyed the good week away from study and having fun with like-minded people, most of whom I'd never met before.
Where did you go to schoolies when you left school? Why?
I went to Lorne in '98. I went to schoolies primarily to get away with good mates. With most of us likely to get into courses in other states, it was a good time for us all to get together and have a good time while we still could. The schoolies break also helped provide some motivation for me to knuckle down in the lead-up to exam time.
What's your advice for young people thinking of drinking at schoolies?
Ask yourself whether you need to drink to have a good time. If 'yes', then it's really important to know what your limits are. As alcohol affects people differently, it's important to closely monitor and moderate how much you consume.
Good rules of thumb are to eat well prior to consuming alcohol, don't mix alcoholic drinks, don't drink when on medication and drink lots of water to help your body process the alcohol. Importantly, always buy or pour your own drinks, never leave an open container out of sight, and never drink and drive.
How do you manage this? Planning. Plan on how you are getting there, how much you plan to spend, and how you are getting home. Look out for your friends in case they need you or you need them. Most importantly when consuming alcohol, know what to do or where to go if you need help.
What's your advice for young people thinking of taking drugs at schoolies?
Stay as far away as possible. Like with alcohol, ask yourself whether you need drugs to have a good time. Unlike alcohol, you can't verify where your drugs are coming from. Beware, there is an increased risk of 'bad batches' being sold at schoolies.
However, the same rules apply if you do plan on using drugs at schoolies: make sure you are in a safe environment with people you trust. Ensure you know what to do and where to go in case of an emergency.
If you are required to seek assistance in an emergency, don't lie to the ambulance officers or hospital staff. Though drugs are illegal to possess and use, saving someone's life is more important than being in trouble with the law.
What's your advice for non-schoolies thinking of going to the celebrations?
While schoolies celebrations are primarily for Year 12 students, there is nothing stopping others from attending. Regardless of who attends, the entire celebration is only successful if people do the right thing.
How can young people have fun at schoolies without annoying the locals?
Be nice to them and they'll hopefully be nice back.
What do you think is the biggest problem young people face at schoolies?
Peer group pressure. Stand up for yourself and have a voice because you won't get counted if you don't.
How can they avoid peer pressure and stay safe?
Don't be afraid to say NO.
What general advice do you have for young people going to schoolies?
Be safe, have fun, and don't get arrested!