Schoolies week is well underway and teens from across the country have converged in Queensland to celebrate the end of school. But, with stories of spiking, non-consensual sex, and other unsafe situations spanning decades — today's "safer" schoolies might look a little different to the parties of years past.
One Aussie reveller arriving for week one of the festivities, known as the peak period, was "confused" with a tube-like object she was given after picking up her wristband and pack from Safer Schoolies — a Queensland government initiative. The small pink item was given to her along with a clear lanyard pouch to keep her phone in and "flyers about drugs and spiking".
"Schoolies tell me what this is for?" Ange Loeber asked on TikTok, trying to find answers as to what the tiny tube could be — not realising it is actually one of the many government safety initiatives in place.
What exactly is the tube?
It is an anti-drink spiking stopper and goes into the top of the drink bottle, preventing anything but one straw from being able to go into its opening. Once inserted, the stopper cannot be removed. "[They are] for one use only and help prevent drinks from being spiked," a 2023 Safer Schoolies spokesperson told Yahoo. "They come with a guide that clearly outlines their use [and] safety messages to help prevent drink spiking".
Schoolies attendee Ange pointed out that these stoppers can only help in places where a person is drinking from a bottle and not a glass or cup. "It's honestly pointless as we drink out of glasses in the club," she said.
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Schoolies in Queensland known for safety concerns
In 2002, in response to public safety concerns, the Queensland premier announced a review of the arrangements regarding Gold Coast Schoolies and in 2003, Safer Schoolies kicked off to make it a safer experience for all.
This year, the Gold Coast alone expects 20,000 school leavers to visit in one week, though more are expected to head to the Sunshine Coast, Bali, Fiji and other schoolies hotspots between now and December.
Just days ago, the Sunshine Coast Police issued a "timely reminder" that with schoolies here, there may be "opportunists targeting school leavers’ drinks" while they are out. "I encourage all school leavers to make responsible choices, watch your mates and stick together when you’re out and about," Sunshine Coast District Officer Superintendent Craig Hawkins recently urged.
This warning came after Sunshine Coast police already recorded an alleged schoolies-related drink-spiking incident involving a 16-year-old student at a party in Coolum last week.
Schoolies tips to prevent being a victim of drink spiking
Drink spiking is the act of putting alcohol or drugs in someone’s drink without their knowledge or permission and is illegal — even if done to a friend as a joke. According to the Queensland Police Drugs and Alcohol Unit, the most common drug used in drink spiking is alcohol.
Safer Schoolies' tips to protect yourself from drink spiking:
don’t accept drinks from others, particularly strangers
don’t take your eyes off your drinks or leave them unattended
do not share or swap drinks with others
be wary if someone serves you a drink that is different from what you requested
try to stick to drinks in bottles with screw top lids
if you feel sick or dizzy, ask someone you trust to take you to a safe place
if you suspect drink spiking, don’t risk it – always call Triple-0.
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