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Gold Coast Schoolies - 2004 Report

2004 Gold Coast Schoolies Week

During Gold Coast Schoolies Week, Rebeccas Community was one of several service providers supporting young people. The official Gold Coast Schoolies Week ran from November 19th till November 28th 2004.

Social Worker and Director of Rebeccas Community Mr. Dominic Mapstone has worked at Gold Coast Schoolies Week for the past decade. Rebeccas Community is based in Sydney; the organisation works with people who are homeless and funds the National Schoolies Week Website.

In 2004 our proposed sexual assault prevention service was deemed 'too dangerous' to implement by the Department of Communities, and was not included as part of the official schoolies support services.

Our proposal in essence was to have youth workers patrol areas which we identified from past years as most dangerous during the Gold Coast Schoolies festival from the perspective of sexual assault.

The state government's assessment of the work as too dangerous didn't change the need for such a service, so it was decided for the sake of the Schoolies to proceed regardless.

The team was lead by Social Worker Mr. Dominic Mapstone and included a nurse, senior youth workers and a teacher. All had Blue Cards (Working with Young People Check - issued by the Children's Commission) and all had at least two years experience working at Schoolies.

They also had up to five years working on the streets with homeless people. The team were also experienced in visiting squats and shooting galleries as part of their work with Dominic on the streets so were well versed in how to keep themselves safe in dangerous environments.

The foot patrols included making contact with people we considered 'at risk' and making them aware of the dangers or assisting them to safety. We also maintained regular watch of areas where schoolies were most at risk of assault, based on our team's unique insight.

The support of the Queensland Ambulance Service was required on a number of occasions as we discovered people overcome by alcohol and or drugs, passed out in back streets and parks. It was very helpful having a nurse on our team.

The support of police was required on a number of occasions as we were able to identify 'persons of interest' or passed on information about 'places of interest.'

Our identification of people and places of interest yeilded drug and weapon related arrests, as well as giving police the opportunity to record the name and address of older persons present in areas of concern for our sexual assault prevention service.

At any one time there were up to two dozen couples having consentual sex in public space, especially on the beach or in the sand dunes. As the sand dunes are historically a location where rapes occur during Schoolies we established the 'consentual nature' of the act from a respectful distance and moved on.

During patrols, our youth workers were offered drugs on a number of occasions each night. Outreach at Gold Coast Schoolies was more like working in Kings Cross (our home turf) than working in Fortitude Valley. We were suprised at how many more dealers were active during Gold Coast Schoolies compared to previous years.

Jazmin is our beautiful labrador dog who worked alongside us. She came on foot patrols, and was always on hand for a cuddle when someone was feeling down. Jazz works with us in Sydney with people who are homeless.

During outreach we were often asked if she was a sniffer dog or alternatively we were asked if our dog was blind. As far as Jazz was concerned I think she was just happy to be going for such long walks every night and getting so many hugs and pats.

During 2003 Schoolies Jazmin was just a puppy and got a lot of attention from police who went out of their way to pat her. This year for the first couple of days she barked at the police every time she saw them, even when they drove past in a patrol car. After a few days though she warmed to them again and charmed her way into many police hearts.

We learnt of a number of incidents of sexual assault during 2004 Schoolies, however, as police had not charged someone with the offence/s confirmation of the assaults were unavailable.

Rebeccas Community was also able to arrange for the transport of a handful of people from the Southport Watch House onto the train for Brisbane, well away from the Gold Coast Schoolies precinct.

National Schoolies Website

The National Schoolies Website continued in it's popularity, gaining up to 18,000 page vews per day. The peer education project is funded by Rebeccas Community and all content is from former Schoolies.