This weekend will see tens of thousands of recently graduated students trickling into the Gold Coast for the annual rite of passage. The schoolies, as they are called, will concentrate around surfers Paradise and the nearby precincts. The Community Services department is expecting up to 40,000 visitors.
Opposition leader John-Paul Langbroek, whose daughter will be attending the celebrations, says there has been an improvement in the students' behaviour in the last few years. "I think we have a cohort of children who I'd say are a little bit more conservative than the free-wheeling days of five or six years ago".
He added that there had also been a significant increase in the numbers of police and emergency service workers in the area. On the eve of the schoolies weekend, a total drug hoard of 38 kilos was seized around the nation. The confiscated substances, which included heroin, cocaine, cannabis, ecstasy, mephedrone, steroids, methamphetamines and magic mushrooms, were specifically targeted for the start of Schoolies Week.
Officials have called on schoolies to be careful and to look after one another, adding that adults found supplying under-aged children with alcohol face fines of up to $8,000.
Because of the strong Australian dollar and cheap airfare, this year's schoolies will also be heading overseas. Jot Lynas, Director of Unleashed Travel, reported over 1,650 schoolies booking flights to Fiji and Bali with his Company. For the 2011 Schoolies Week, the Company is expecting up to 3,000 bookings, with Vanuatu added to the itinerary.