Thousands of school leavers set to kick off celebrations in Cowes
More than 1,500 Year 12 school leavers will start arriving in Bass Coast this week for the official start of Schoolies Week celebrations which runs from 26 November to 4 December.
Bass Coast Shire Council welcomes business-boosting school leavers and acknowledges their significant achievements. To prepare for the weeks ahead, Council has put in places various measures to ensure celebrations are done so in the safest possible way.
Council is working closely with Victoria Police, Ambulance Victoria and voluntary organisations including Red Frogs and Dancewize to offer drug, alcohol and sexual health counselling, alongside community focused policing and emergency care capabilities.
“School-leavers have been coming to Phillip Island for decades to celebrate the end of their High School experience,’’ said Bass Coast Shire Council Mayor, Cr Michael Whelan.
“They have all had a tough couple of years of schooling with the pandemic, so we want them all to have a great time and return home safely,’’ Cr Whelan said.
“Schoolies is a chance for young people to experience a trip away from their family and friends. It’s an introduction to adulthood. Our young visitors also bring an injection of revenue to local businesses, through accommodation bookings, food purchases and attendance at multiple tourist attractions.’’
Red Frogs and Dancewize provide outreach support to young people through peer education and support services, including free transport to and from Cowes, barbecues and cooked breakfasts. DanceWize is a program of Harm Reduction Victoria and utilises peer education to reduce drug and alcohol related harm.
Red Frog volunteers provide direct relief, safety and support to young people during School Leavers Week across 14 locations. They act as the eyes and ears in accommodation venues and out on the streets, providing a positive peer presence to school leavers. This includes pancake cook-ups, room cleans, emotional support, walk homes and, of course, red frogs.
Council will ensure there is a security presence in Cowes to maintain and protect community assets, and provide additional street and toilet cleaning.
“Council wants school leavers to stay safe, make good choices and enjoy the beauty that is Phillip Island,’’ Cr Whelan said. “This includes being respectful of the locals and their spaces, remembering that families use the same areas during the day that school leavers use at night-time.’’