STAY SAFE: Schoolies gather at the Red Frog tents in the park at Main Beach, Byron Bay for Schoolies Week 2013 and, below right, Nicqui Yazdi, co-ordinator of the Byron Bay Schoolies Safety Response.
STAY SAFE: Schoolies gather at the Red Frog tents in the park at Main Beach, Byron Bay for Schoolies Week 2013 and, below right, Nicqui Yazdi, co-ordinator of the Byron Bay Schoolies Safety Response. Patrick Gorbunovs Mireille Merlet-Shaw

Byron HUB making schoolies safer

THE Byron Schoolies Safety Response is a community-based organisation focused on making the annual youth holiday fun and free of violence.

A lot of what needs to be done to control or reduce violence is to manage alcohol, according to Nicqui Yazdi Byron Schoolies Safety Response co-ordinator.

And that is where the Byron Schoolies HUB comes in. It is operated as an alcohol-free and peaceful space where young people can hang out, she said.

STAY SAFE DURING SCHOOLIES

  • Make a plan before you go out (know what you and your friends will do if you run into trouble)
  • Don't be afraid to back off.
  • Friends need to support their mates to walk away
  • Be prepared to change venues
  • Don't overheat a situation by trying to break it up aggressively
  • Find experienced people to help break up a fight
  • Don't binge drink
  • Don't preload
  • Stay with a group of friends
  • Have a meeting place if you lose your friends
  • Stay away from dark, isolated places

The HUB is at Main Beach Park and is open 24 hours a day for the 18 days of Schoolies.

It can give young people a focus, said Ms Yazdi.

They often get into trouble when they are bored and search for excitement.

"We have had great success reducing crime. Violence is not the issue it is made out to be."

Avoidance was the key to reducing violence.

"Absolutely go out of your way to avoid any conflict," she said.

People also had to be careful trying to stop a confrontation.

Often this could lead to the situation getting worse and involving more people.

Getting help from someone with experience was often the best response.

Learning some basic defensive stances could also help to reduce any harm that could occur if someone did try to hit you, said Ms Yazdi.

The HUB also runs powerful messaging around the Cringe the Binge anti-binge drinking program.

Sexual violence is an issue all the time, and not just at Schoolies she said. The key message is not to get isolated.

"Stay with your friends. Always make a meeting spot."

Nicqui Yazdi
Nicqui Yazdi

Precautions included not going into dark or badly lit areas.

The work of the HUB is well supported by the Red Frogs, a group of about 200 volunteers dedicated to making sure Schoolies ran smoothly.

Red Frogs works on a buddy system and are there to help schoolies with any problems they encounter, according to organiser Chris George

A Red Frog can be called upon to help people get home safely or even cook up pancakes to make sure people have some food.