Youth workerMax Broadley is Acting Manager of the Youth Substance Abuse Service's Youth Withdrawal Unit.
What's been your experience of schoolies?
In my experience schoolies is a great event for young people to celebrate the end of the school era. When working at schoolies I found all the young people I met to be respectful and great fun.
Did you go to schoolies when you left school?
I wish I had, but I didn't. I don't know if schoolies even existed way back in 1989 but I did celebrate with all my friends at a house party.
What's your advice for young people thinking of drinking at schoolies?
If alcohol is part of your celebrations then know your limits. Drinking to get smashed can look pretty bad, and typically people who are really drunk do things they would never dream of doing when they are sober.
So to avoid doing something you regret, moderate your drinking. You can do this by drinking non-alcoholic drinks as well as alcoholic, don't mix your alcoholic drinks, eat before you go out, drink water if you feel you are getting too drunk and definitely don't drive!
It is always a good idea to have a plan for the night (how you'll get home, how much you'll spend, what are some ground rules for yourself and your group). Look after yourself and your friends, and remember: getting smashed on alcohol does not equal a good time. Looking good, feeling good and partying on does equal a good time.
What's your advice for young people thinking of taking drugs at schoolies?
Think again! If you have never taken drugs before then taking them at schoolies is definitely not a good idea: its really not that kind of celebration. If you already use drugs, and plan to use at schoolies then again know your limits.
Have a clear plan for the night (e.g. how much do you want to use, how will you use, how will you get home, what is the emergency plan if something goes wrong).
Some basic rules for reducing the risks if you are going to use drugs are: don't use someone else's drugs coz you don't know what is in them, don't mix drugs, don't mix drugs with alcohol, don't mix drugs with prescription medication, don't use drugs if you are in a bad head space, start with a little first then build, and don't be afraid to talk to someone if you are feeling unwell or if you see someone unwell.
Get help straight away if someone looses consciousness: dial 000 if you need to. Remember drugs are illegal, and just possessing them is breaking the law. Again, getting smashed does not equal a good time.
What's your advice for people thinking of having sex at schoolies?
Be safe (use condoms), and respect yourself and the person you are with. Make a choice you will not regret.
What's your advice for non-schoolies thinking of going to the celebrations?
In principle I would say the more the merrier, but only if people are coming to add to the celebrations. Respect the locals, and respect the schoolies.
How can young people have fun at schoolies without annoying the locals?
Easy. Treat everyone with respect, and people will respect you back.
What do you think is the biggest problem young people face at schoolies?
Peer group pressure can be pretty tough. I see lots of people (not just schoolies) drinking themselves to oblivion because it's the thing to do. Then, after people get really smashed, fights start and it all turns crap. To me this is just a waste of a good night.
How can they avoid peer pressure and stay safe?
Lead by example instead of following someone else's lead. Don't be afraid to be different, people will admire you.
What general advice do you have for young people going to schoolies?
Have a great time and plan your stay well. Treat yourself, your mates, the town and the locals with respect. Avoid choices that lead to regrets.