Safe partying tips for school leavers

In the lead up to ‘schoolies’ or ‘leavers’ events, it’s a good idea to talk with your child about alcohol and drugs. You can discuss some of the tips below for staying safe and having a good time during the celebrations with them.

Have a plan for the week

  • Keep busy – having lots going on keeps alcohol from being the main focus of the celebrations. You could consider seeing a travel agent, as many now offer schoolies packages that include fun alcohol-free activities.
  • Register as a schoolie – you can get heaps of free stuff, information on activities, discounts, and priority entry into venues (check out the links under further information).
  • Book accommodation – make sure you know where you’re staying before leaving home.
  • Have enough money – for food, accommodation, activities, and to use in an emergency. If you plan to drink, make sure you have a budget for alcohol so you don’t run out of money for other things (like food).

Go prepared with ID

  • Carry appropriate ID – it can be an 18+ card, keypass, driver’s licence or passport.
  • Don’t fake it – carrying a fake ID is against the law and you can be fined.

Think before drinking alcohol

  • You don’t have to drink alcohol to have fun – make sure you create good memories at schoolies, not bad ones. If you do drink, don’t get drunk. Blackouts don’t make for good memories.
  • You can fake drinking – if you don’t want to drink but are worried that you won’t fit in, you can brainstorm some ideas for faking it. You could ask a bartender to pour you a coke in a rocks glass, sip very slowly or just hold a drink in your hand, or tell your friends that you’re on antibiotics.
  • Eat and drink water – if you drink alcohol make sure you eat, too, and drink water between alcoholic drinks. This can keep you from getting drunk and winding up puking and/or getting hurt.
  • Stay on the right side of the law – giving your friends who are under 18 alcohol is illegal if you don’t have their parent’s consent under secondary supply laws. You can be fined $7,000 to $13,000.
  • Take extra care overseas – if you’re drinking alcohol in Indonesia (Bali) or Thailand, avoid cocktails and spirits that can be contaminated with methanol. Stick to bottled beer.
  • Keep an eye out for drink spiking – don’t accept drinks from strangers and keep your drink in your hand. 

Think before taking illicit drugs

  • There’s no way of knowing what you’re taking – it’s impossible to know what is really in a drug, or how strong it is. The only risk-free choice is to avoid or refuse.
  • Drugs affect everyone differently – just because a friend has taken a drug and is OK doesn’t mean it will have the same effect on you.
  • Don’t mix drugs – taking different drugs at the same time (including with alcohol, prescription medicine and over-the-counter drugs like Panadol or codeine) can have unpredictable effects and can make it easier to overdose.
  • Avoid synthetic drugs (new psychoactive substances) – these drugs are not safe even though they are sometimes sold in shops and online. Early research suggests they have worse and more unpredictable effects than common illegal drugs.
  • Never carry or consume illegal drugs overseas – many countries have tough penalties for people arrested with drugs, including life imprisonment or death.
Students in hall

 Look after yourself and your friends

  • Be a good friend – don’t leave your friends or mates on their own, and if you’re leaving them let them know where you’re going.
  • Think ahead – organise a safe place to meet in case you get separated.
  • Charge your phone – don’t forget to take your charger and make sure it’s fully charged before going out.
  • Trust your instincts – if you don’t feel safe, you probably aren’t.
  • Avoid risky situations – drugs and alcohol affect your judgement and stop you thinking clearly.
  • Say no to violence – report violence or threats of violence to police.
  • Keys please – drinking and driving don’t mix, not even for you, and never travel with a drinker.
  • Drink spiking – watch your drinks, and if you are unsure if your drink has been spiked, just leave it.
  • No means no – it’s OK to say no to sex. Pressuring someone else into having sex is sexual assault, and it’s illegal. But do carry condoms in case you decide to have sex.

Swim safely

  • Alcohol and swimming don’t mix – don’t swim or do water sports when you’ve been drinking or taking drugs.
  • Stay with other people – never swim or surf alone, or at night.
  • Swim in safe locations – swim between the flags.

 Be sunsmart

  • Slip, slop and slap – when you’re drinking it’s easy to forget to be SunSmart. Being sunburnt is not fun.

Respect the area and environment you’re visiting

  • No butts or glass on the beach – use cans and plastic bottles only.
  • Clean up after yourself – take rubbish with you and recycle if possible.

 Know what to do if you get into trouble

  • Ask for help – there are lots of people who can provide on-the-ground help during schoolies such as police, volunteers (like Red Frogs), and youth workers.
  • Learn basic first aid – if a friend is drunk or sick, stay with them. If they want to lie down, put them on their side in case they vomit
  • Call triple zero (000) – if someone passes out or looks like they’re in trouble. Paramedics don’t need to involve the police

 Drive safely

  • Limit distractions – like loud music, picking a new song, or using your phone to text or talk. Driving with a car full of friends makes you four times more likely to be in a fatal crash.
  • Don’t drive tired – lack of sleep reduces your driving ability.
  • Don’t drive after having alcohol and drugs – including some legal medications. It affects your attention span, reaction time, and coordination. Some, like alcohol, also impair your judgement. Mixing drugs can change how they affect you, and many drugs stay in your system for days.
  • Next-day driving – some people drive the day after taking alcohol and other drugs without realizing that their BAC (blood alcohol concentration) might still be too high, or that the drug is still in their system. This is dangerous – and can get you arrested. See the fact sheet about roadside drug testing.
  • Weather – slow down when it’s raining or wet, and be extra careful at night.
  • Don’t just ‘drive around’ – young drivers should avoid driving around just for fun with a group of friends. It may lead you into danger because you are distracted or trying to show off.
  • It could be helpful to arrange a formal contract between yourself and your parents regarding the use of the family car, or even your own car, during your first 12 months of driving. This will help you to set out the roles of parents and P-plate drivers and what is expected of each of you.

If you’re going to use alcohol or other drugs but still need to travel, plan ahead:

  • Organise a driver who will not be using any alcohol or other drugs
  • Arrange for someone to pick you up
  • Use public transport or a taxi
  • Arrange to stay overnight

Don’t drive if you:

  • Feel dizzy or light-headed
  • Feel nauseous or unwell
  • Are tired
  • Are unable to think clearly
  • Have recently used alcohol or other drugs, as you may still be experiencing the effects

Further information

National and overseas

Smartraveler advice for Schoolies

National Schoolies volunteers

Legal advice
Am I old enough? Common legal issues for young people

State Based

Please click on your state for specific local information.