“Better off here”: city leaders defend Schoolies
CITY leaders have dismissed calls to cancel Schoolies celebrations across the Gold Coast by claiming school-leavers are "better off" partying supervised.
Mayor Tom Tate and Surfers Paradise MP John-Paul Langbroek have joined Red Frogs co-ordinator Andy Gourley to say they would rather Schoolies remain an official event.
Schoolies officially came to a close over the weekend, with festivities marred by multiple incidents among Gold Coast partyers.
Organisers have been laying low over the past few days, and representatives of exclusive booking agent Schoolies.com, declined multiple requests for comment by the Gold Coast Bulletin.
The refusal comes after 18-year-old Hamish Bidgood plunged 11 storeys to his death from a Surfers Paradise unit block last week.
The Sydney teenager had been alone in his hotel room and was reportedly high on nitrous oxide gas, known as "nangs", seemingly the drug of choice among schoolies this year.
It was also yesterday revealed a Brisbane private school girl had allegedly been sexually assaulted in her Surfers Paradise hotel room during the first week of celebrations.
The incident is now being investigated by police.
There were 69 arrests during this year's event, surpassing last year's tally of 47.
However Cr Tate said teens were better off partying at supervised events on the Gold Coast than they would be attending unofficial or international celebrations.
"First, our thoughts are with the family of the young man," he said.
"This incident occurred after the formal Schoolies Week had concluded.
"Nevertheless, it was a terrible loss of life.
"Universally, parents of kids attending Schoolies would much rather see their children on the Gold Coast than at unsupervised events overseas."
His comments have been supported by Mr Langbroek who said many people had forgotten just what Schoolies was like before official events began.
"Even though we had a tragedy this week, if we had a tragedy and there were no government agencies involved, there'd be an outcry that the government had abandoned these kids," he said.
"People have forgotten how bad it used to be. I was a dentist originally and I'd have to call parents from all over Australia to reassure them their kids were okay.
"Even in my era you used to send kids and hope that nothing would happen ... now you can trust kids will be safe because of the co-ordinated response."
Volunteer group Red Frogs has provided support and relief to more than 70,000 Schoolies across Australia this year, and MrGourley said it's the best behaviour he's seen.
"There's a high social justice value in them, they really care passionately about looking after their mates," he said.
"Back in the day they'd just let Johnno sleep it off on the beach, but now they're picking Johnno up, walking him to the first aid tent, staying with him for three hours and then walking him home."