Parties can be an opportunity for your teenager to socialise and explore their independence. But, you may have questions about who is attending, who is supervising and if alcohol will be provided.
If you have concerns it can be helpful to:
Contact the host to find out what sort of party it’s going to be
Some good questions to ask the host parent/guardian are:
- How old are the people attending?
- Will there be supervision and how many adults will be supervising?
- Will there be alcohol? Food?
- Is there a plan to prevent gate crashers?
- When will the party start and end?
Take the opportunity to talk to your teenager about your expectations:
- whether they are allowed to drink or not
- what time they need to be home by
- how they’re getting home.
Support your young person with safer partying tips
If your teenager is attending a party, this is an ideal time to support them with information to reduce potential harm
It’s important to have a plan for the night and agree how they’re getting home.
Make sure they know to never drive or swim if they’ve been drinking, and to not get a lift from someone who has been drinking or using drugs.
Let them know you’re always available to pick them up – any time – if they feel unsafe, or something hasn’t gone to plan.
You could also come up with a ‘code’ message for your teenager to use in case they want to come home, but feel embarrassed about calling you or feel pressured to stay. This could be something like checking in on an unwell relative or pet.38
Talk about why it’s important to stick with their friends, and to let their friends know where they are going, what they are doing and who they are with, if they do leave them.
Discuss how they can look after their friends. You could talk about how a fight could be defused and what to do if someone becomes intoxicated or unwell.
If they notice someone is intoxicated, unwell or being taken advantage of they should:
- tell the host, or alert someone not affected by alcohol/drugs
- call for help - a parent, or triple zero (000) in an emergency
- intervene, if safe to do so.
Let them know that alcohol and other drugs affect someone’s ability to give consent. If they, or someone else, is drunk or high, they can’t give consent.39
Engaging in sexual activities with anyone who can’t give informed consent is sexual assault.39
For information on consent check out our page alcohol and consent, Reach Out’s guide on consent, and Raising Children’s page on getting and giving sexual consent.
If your teenager plans to drink (or you think they might), give them some tips to reduce the harms.
And let them know it’s ok to say no to a drink. In an ideal world, a simple ‘no thanks’ would be accepted by their peers. But sometimes teenagers can feel pressured to drink. Brainstorm an excuse they could use if they do feel pressured, like: ‘I’m playing in a big game tomorrow’ or ‘I’m on antibiotics’. Work together to come up with plausible excuses that aren’t embarrassing, while still reinforcing a message the message that it’s ok to say no.
Explain to your teenager that it’s always safer to not drink or use other drugs. But, if they or a friend do so, it’s important they know how to reduce the risks.
- Eat before and during drinking.
- Start slow and stay hydrated.
- Watch your drink and get your own (never take drinks from others).
- Finish your drink before a new one.
- Use small glasses.
- Sip not scull.
- Water – drink lots of it.
- Stick to one type of drink.
Make your own limits:
- Drink slowly at your pace, not someone else’s.
- Say no thanks to top ups.
- No pressure. It’s OK to say no.
Some other stuff:
- Think twice before posting on socials.
- Keep busy. Dance, socialise – you’ll drink less.
- Stay connected – never leave a friend and don’t head off with someone you don’t know.
- If it’s hot and you’re outside – slip, slop, slap, seek and slide.
- Alcohol (and other drugs) can make you less worried about danger. Watch out for risks.
- Without testing you can never be entirely sure what’s in a drug or what it’s mixed with, this can make effects unpredictable.
- Avoid mixing drugs, including alcohol and any medications.
- Tell friends what you’ve taken in case of a bad reaction.
- Never drink or take drugs and drive, or travel with a mate that’s been drinking or taking drugs.
- Check in with your mind and your body throughout the night – if you start to feel unwell or unsafe, let a friend know.
- Pace yourself – start with a smaller dose and see how you feel before using any more.
- Be prepared – eat before using any drugs and keep hydrated during use.
- Do your research before taking a drug. To know more about a specific drug, check out our Drug Facts pages or our Text the Effects service on 0439 TELL ME (0439 835 563).
Prep your teenager on what to do if things go wrong.
Let them know it’s always ok to call you if they are scared or affected by alcohol or other drugs.
You can also give your contact details to one of your teenager’s friends, just in case something happens to them or their phone.38
Encourage them to never leave a friend who is drunk or affected by drugs.
This includes staying with them, putting them on their side (recovery position) in case they vomit, and calling triple zero (000) if they pass out or are in trouble.
Let them know an ambulance will not call the police (unless they feel threatened).
Planning a safe teen party
So, the party is going to be at your house…
There are some steps you can take to make it safer for everyone.
Be clear with your teenager whether drinking will be allowed or not. Whatever you decide, make sure to tell parents/guardians ahead of time.
Safer party checklist:
- Will alcohol be served? If yes:
- inform parents/guardians
- check your state or territory’s secondary supply laws for anyone attending under 18.
- Will smoking/vaping be allowed?
- Illegal drugs: plan your response if someone brings other drugs to the party. Planning ahead will make things less stressful if this situation arises.
- Guests: confirm number and names of guests invited.
- Inform others: including neighbours, parents, and police (if you choose to register your party with the local police)
- Food and, non-alcoholic drinks and water: make sure enough snacks and water are provided, this can help prevent attendees getting too drunk or becoming unwell if they consume alcohol.
- Security: is the home/venue secure to prevent gate crashers?
- Transport: if guests have been drinking, make sure they don’t drive. Encourage guests who are drinking to use ride share services, taxis or have parents/guardians pick them up. Plan some space for guests to sleep over if they can’t get home safely.
- Adult supervisors: will other parents/adults be supervising?
- Accidents and emergencies: have a plan for what to do if someone injures themselves, becomes unwell, or behaves inappropriately. This includes:
- having a first aid kit on hand
- designating a room for rest and recovery, if someone needs some space/privacy, or rest
- having parent/guardian phone numbers saved
- in an emergency, call triple zero (000) – leave space in the driveaway or nearby the house/venue for emergency services to access if needed.
Schoolies, or leavers, can be a rite of passage for many teenagers after completing their final year of high school.
It can be an opportunity for teenagers to socialise and celebrate all the hard work put into their education.
It can also be a time that they drink and are exposed to, or use, other drugs.
If your teenager is going on schoolies, it’s important they know how to be safe around alcohol and other drugs while they’re away.
Before they head on the trip, have a conversation with them about safer partying – including the harm reduction tips listed above.
Visit our pages for more info and tips:
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