‘Be nice to them’: Schoolies will still come to Byron
NSW SCHOOLIES will still be able to celebrate in Byron Bay this year, but events for school-leavers in Queensland have been cancelled.
However there will be no formal Schoolies hub in Byron Bay this year.
And while Year 12 graduates within NSW will be permitted to travel here unless restricted by another health direction, it's expected numbers will be significantly lower with interstate Schoolies effectively locked out.
Byron mayor Simon Richardson said those who still visit the second most popular Schoolies destination must stick to current restrictions and respect the health of the local community.
There remains a restriction on public gatherings of more than 20 people.
"For those who are allowed to come … we expect that they will behave in the appropriate manner, being 18, just like a 48-year-old would," Cr Richardson said.
"We want Schoolies to leave with great memories rather than any great regrets."
Unlike the Gold Coast, which ordinarily hosts formal events and an accommodation hub for school-leavers, Byron Bay's only Schoolies-targeted facility is The Hub.
This gives young people access to vital welfare support but will not operate this year due to the pandemic.
Youth worker Nicqui Yazdi, involved with that hub each year, said any response to the influx of Schoolies would have to be police-driven this year.
"There's no way we were going to be able to do what we do," Ms Yazdi said.
"Every single aspect of the hub, it's not possible."
She was hopeful local police, under the leadership of Inspector Matt Kehoe, would help to keep Schoolies safe wherever possible.
"Under his direction I'm sure the police who are working across Byron during Schoolies will be really well prepared to handle everything they come across," she said.
She urged residents to be respectful of the region's young visitors and asked accommodation providers to be "reasonable" when cancellations were requested.
"I know that a lot of Byron accommodation providers have not agreed to refunds," she said.
"My heartfelt call to all providers in Byron is to recognise that these are young people, they've just done 13 years of school.
"There's a lot of disappointment for this year's graduating Year 12s.
"They will come again in the future. Let's just be nice to them this year."
She said there were an estimated 2000 bookings for Schoolies in Byron this year, although with short-term holiday rentals prolific, exact figures are hard to come by.
Police have been approached for comment.