SummaryRead the full fact sheet
- Schoolies is a time when school leavers come together to celebrate the end of an important milestone – the end of their school education.
- Plan ahead so you know what to do if things get out of hand. Before leaving, reflect on your feelings towards sex, alcohol and drugs – think about what you’re prepared to do and where you want to draw the line.
- Partying is fun – use your head, stick with your friends and look out for each other.
- There are a number of risks involved when you’re affected by drugs and alcohol. Try not to drink too much, and if you do take drugs, know how to reduce the risks.
What is schoolies?
Every year in late November through to December, thousands of school-leavers head to holiday destinations around the country or overseas for schoolies (or leavers) to celebrate the end of school life. Popular locations in Victoria include coastal areas such as Lorne, Torquay, Rye or Phillip Island.
Intense partying can be lots of fun if you pace yourself and plan ahead so you’re aware of any risks and know what to do in an emergency.
Preparing for schoolies
Decide what your limits are so you can avoid any unpleasant situations. Here are some suggestions:
- Before you go, have a think about what you’re prepared to do and where to draw the line around sex, alcohol and drugs.
- Talk to your friends about where they stand, and talk about ways to look out for each other. This could be things like having a code word to use if one of you is feeling uncomfortable and wants to leave a situation without having to explain to strangers or other people around.
- Let your family and loved ones know where you are going and who you are going with.
- Tell others if you have a health condition (such as , , , or ) so they can look out for you.
- Do your research and learn how you can travel safely – work this into your plans. If you have a health condition, it can be helpful to know how alcohol or other drugs may affect you and how they could interact with any medication you are taking. Ask your doctor about this, and also look for further info online. Some reputable websites include the Alcohol and Drug Foundation's and Harm Reduction Victoria's .
- Check you have – this can save you a lot of money in an emergency.
- If you have , know what you’re covered for.
- If you’re travelling overseas, make sure to get travel insurance that covers medical emergencies.
- Some run special events for schoolies in a safe environment. If this sounds like an option, before you leave for more details.
- Reduce the spread of illnesses (such as , and ) by making sure you are up to date with any and know what to do to protect yourself and others.
- If you are sexually active, get tested and treated for to avoid the risk of infection to others. Know how to that is respectful and consensual between partners.
What to pack for schoolies
Knowing what to pack is always tricky. Here are some essentials:
- avoid by keeping SunSmart – take a broad-brimmed hat, sunscreen, sunglasses and protective clothing
- insect repellent and protective clothing to
- medications and you may want to take a copy of your prescriptions
- phone charger
- ID, card and any concession cards
- (such as and and dental dams) to avoid
- hand sanitiser (with at least 60% alcohol) – is important to stop the spread of germs
- are useful if you are in a public space or outside in a crowded place where you can’t physically distance..
Safety tips for schoolies
Sometimes, when you’re in a group, you may find yourself doing things you would never do alone. Safety tips include:
- Stick to the house rules – don’t get kicked out of your accommodation.
- Carry your accommodation details with you in case you get lost or need a ride to the place you are staying.
- Keep your room locked. If you’re sharing, make sure you know who has the key or swipe card, and stick with them. Or leave the key at the front desk if there is a 24-hour concierge.
- Before going out, plan to meet somewhere in case you get separated.
- Stick with your friends and watch out for each other. Walk to and from the main schoolies area in groups.
- Don’t wander off alone. Avoid going off with people you are not friends with, particularly if you are intoxicated.
- Make sure your phone is charged and has plenty of credit.
- Carry some spare cash.
- Keep handy.
- – carry and use them .
- Keep your shoes on outside, even on the beach. If you are in an area where there are loads of people, watch out for sharp objects (such as broken glass).
- Don’t take risks – such as or diving in unfamiliar water, or driving or getting into a car with someone who has been drinking or taking drugs.
- Don’t leave your things unattended (such as on the beach or at a club). Take it in turns to look after everyone’s things.
- Steer clear of groups of who seem to be wandering without purpose. Violence tends to spread through a crowd, so don’t hang around to watch if a brawl starts.
Alcohol and other drugs – schoolie safety tips
If you’re going to drink or take other , be smart about it. You want to remember these fun times and not wake up with a massive hangover or be too out of it or sick to enjoy yourself. Some tips include:
- Know your limits – try not to push yourself too hard.
- Make sure you eat something before you start drinking.
- Pace yourself – try to alternate an alcoholic drink with something soft, like water.
- Keep an eye on your drinks in case of . Anyone can spike a drink with alcohol or sometimes other drugs – including mates. If you all hit the dance-floor, buy new drinks afterwards.
- Don’t accept drinks (including water) from strangers. Buy your own and get drinks with lids to open yourself. Watch bar staff prepare your drinks.
- If you suspect , tell the manager or host immediately and contact emergency services by calling 000.
- If you decide to take , stick with your friends and let them know what you are planning to take so they can give this information to ambulance officers or other medical staff in case of an or bad reaction. (Ambulance officers will not involve the police unless there is a direct threat to safety.)
- Research what you are drinking or taking – you may like to use , an anonymous SMS service that gives you immediate information straight to your phone. Some drugs (such as ) may contain ‘fillers’ so it can be difficult to gauge reactions and side effects.
- Steer clear of (known as ). Although they claim to mimic the effects of certain drugs (such as , , and ) they are usually more unpredictable and often more dangerous.
- Don’t give into peer pressure – it’s okay to say no if you don’t feel comfortable.
- Be careful when mixing different substances (including ) at the same time. They can interact negatively and increase your risk of or having a bad experience. The Alcohol and Drug Foundation has .
- If you’re feeling down or anxious, try to avoid alcohol and other drugs – they can make symptoms worse. Remember, you don’t have to drink or take drugs to have a good time.
- Trust your instincts – if you feel unsafe, move away from the situation.
- If you’re , remember each country has different drug laws. Some places have heavy penalties if you’re found using or travelling with drugs. Be extra cautious and do your research before going.
Avoiding trouble during schoolies
Try to be savvy in situations that are risky. Schoolies sometimes receive unwanted attention from:
- ’Toolies’ – aren’t school-leavers, but attend schoolies. They are often adults who take advantage of young people who have been drinking or taking drugs.
- Strangers – you can’t always trust new people you meet. Play it safe – stay with your friends and don’t wander off alone, or with someone you don’t know.
- Social media – when you’re partying hard people may find it funny to post things on social media of you acting up in ways you may later regret.
If someone is pressuring you to have sex, or makes you feel uncomfortable, tell them. By law, sex must be consensual, which also means respecting others’ decisions when they say ‘no’ or if they are too out of it to consent.
- – CASAs provide a free, confidential, 24-hour emergency and crisis care service
- Victoria Police (000)
- National Sexual Assault, Tel.
- a .
There is no time limit on reporting sexual assault in Victoria. If you don’t feel like reporting a sexual assault to the police, you can call one of these confidential support services.
What to do in an emergency
- severe bleeding
- difficulty breathing or not breathing
- serious accidents or trauma
- lips, face or finger nails turning blue (for people with lighter complexions) or greyish or ashen skin (for people with darker complexions)
- agitation, confusion or extreme drowsiness
- or chest tightness
- sudden numbness or paralysis of the face, arm or leg
- severe burns
- extreme pain.
If someone is not breathing normally or their heart has stopped, start if you feel comfortable doing so. If they are breathing normally, gently roll them onto their side (known as the recovery position) and wait for the ambulance to come.
Ambulance officers will not involve the police unless their safety is at risk.
Remember, if things go wrong or you are worried in any way:
- Talk to someone you trust – such as a friend, family member or another person you feel comfortable to talk to.
- Let others know how you are feeling, especially if you or someone you are with is having thoughts about harming themselves or experiencing a personal crisis.
- Go to a safe place – have a trusted person with you.
- Call a free confidential helpline in the ‘Where to get help’ section.
- Chat online with a support service such as , , or .
Planning overseas travel for schoolies
- Check with your airline what the are for the places you are going to visit. You may need to do a pre-departure COVID-19 test that can be arranged through your GP, travel doctor or a service recommended by your airline.
- See your doctor 6 to 8 weeks before you go to arrange any or medications you may need.
- Let friends and family know where you are going and register your plans at .
- Get travel insurance and record the policy numbers somewhere safe.
- Scan or take photos of important documents (such as your passport and ID), and give them to family and friends. Keep a copy of these documents with you too.
- Know where to find help if you need it. Have the contact handy. If there isn’t one, find out who else you can ask for assistance.
Where to get help
- In an emergency, call 000 (triple zero) for police or an ambulance
- Emergency department of your nearest hospital
- Tel. – for expert health information and advice (24 hours, 7 days)
- A . are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and offer a nursing service from 6 pm to 10 pm
- – for peer support while at schoolies Tel.
- Tel. or
- Tel. – for 24-hour confidential drug and alcohol telephone counselling, information and referral
- Tel. – for alcohol and other drug information
- SMS. (or 0439 tell me) – anonymous 24/7 service anywhere in Australia. Text the name of a drug and get immediate drug information to your phone
- (YoDAA), Victoria Tel. (9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday)
- . To book an appointment call SHV Melbourne CBD Clinic: or call SHV Box Hill Clinic: or (free call): . These services are youth friendly.
- Tel. is a statewide phone service for information about sexual health as well as contraception and pregnancy options
- Tel. – free telephone counselling hotline (24 hours, 7 days)
- Helpline Tel.