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The one conversation we want you to have with your schoolie before the party begins

Tuesday 5 November 2019

A mum and dad embrace their daughter.
Do you think your schoolie would come to you if they had a problem?

So, your child has made it to the end of the school year, the days of exam stress and subject selection are over (for now: if they’re heading to uni, it’s time to steel yourself for round two) and they are ready to take a well-earned break. Whether they’re heading to organised Schoolies events or hanging out with friends closer to home, there’s one conversation we really want you to have before they set off for their week of fun.

What should parents of schoolies know to help keep their kids safe?

You’ve talked to them about responsible drinking and helped them learn about the impacts of other drugs. Hopefully safe sex has already come up (if it hasn’t, don’t worry, we’ve broken down everything they need to know in a handy guide), and we trust that you’ll be double checking their bags for broad-brimmed hats and sunscreen to protect them from the summer sun.

All of this is important information, and you’ve done your best to make it sink in. But after you’ve waved them off, what role can you play in helping them stay safe and well?

“I’m here for you” – during Schoolies and beyond

Even though they’re more independent than ever and might seem to spend most of their time with friends, positive relationships with parents and carers still play a major role in the wellbeing and safety of young adults. In fact, studies show that supportive, close relationships with parents can actually lower the risk of teenagers engaging in risky behaviours, including using alcohol and other drugs.

While your child doesn’t need you to do everything for them anymore – the days of cooking every meal, rubbing every bruise and tucking them in at night have probably passed – they’ll still rely on you for emotional support and guidance. At this age, being there for your child doesn’t mean governing every aspect of their life; your role now is to ensure they feel loved and supported, with the knowledge that even if you don’t agree with their choices or behaviour, you’ll always be there for them.

So, before they head off to Schoolies, let your child know through words and actions that you’re always available if they want to talk about anything during the week. Whether it’s a question about how to reheat last night’s dinner properly (no one’s summer party is improved by salmonella), they’re feeling upset about a fight with a friend, or there’s a bigger issue that might be a threat to their wellbeing, you’re only a phone call or text away.

Now that school is finished, chances are your child will be spending more time away from you. Use the week of Schoolies as an opportunity for you both to establish the basis for great communication and a solid relationship in the future.

A mum and son sit at the kitchen table looking at a tablet.

Who else can teens talk to?

As well as leaning on you, make sure your young person knows who to call if they need emergency help.

Many Schoolies destinations across the state and beyond, have support services on site to assist school leavers. Check to see what services are available in that destination before your teen heads off.

On the Gold Coast, there is an army of support services and emergency personnel onsite to assist with health and safety concerns of schoolies as part of the Safer Schoolies Gold Coast Response. Find out all about this, plus additional resources to help you and your teen prepare well for the Schoolies period, wherever they may be celebrating, on the Safer Schoolies website or the Safer Schoolies for Parents Facebook page.

They can always call 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84) 24/7 to speak to a registered nurse about any health-related questions. Teach your child to always phone Triple Zero (000) and ask for an ambulance during a health emergency, and that paramedics do not routinely report underage drinking or other drug use to police unless the person is violent or involved in a serious crime – they are just there to save lives.

Resources for parents and carers of teenagers

You can find more information about caring for teenagers and support services for families at the links below.

Safer Schoolies website

Raising Children: Support services for families of teens

Raising Children: Relationships with parents and families – why teenagers need them

Head to Health: Supporting Young Adults

Head to Health: Supporting Family

Young people and their parents: Supporting families through changes that occur in adolescence

Australian Institute of Family Studies: Adolescent and parent relationships

ReachOut Parents: Effective communication and teenagers

ReachOut Parents: Balance trust and freedom with your teenager

Last updated: 8 November 2019