SAFETY FIRST: Nicqui Yazdi, of the Byron Bay Youth Services, plans to make Schoolies Week safer for school leavers in Byron this year.
SAFETY FIRST: Nicqui Yazdi, of the Byron Bay Youth Services, plans to make Schoolies Week safer for school leavers in Byron this year. Jay Cronan

Byron plans for schoolies week

AFTER years of confusion, the Byron Bay community has embraced Schoolies Week and, for the first time, initiated a plan to accommodate them.

The newly formed Schoolies Strategy Committee, headed up by Byron United Board member John Gudgeon, has enlisted major stakeholders including the Byron Shire Council, Byron Youth Service, the Liquor Accord, Byron Bay High School, the police, the hospital and businesses.

“The committee wants to minimise the impact on the community, allowing the kids to have fun while making it safe for them, residents and visitors,” Mr Gudgeon said.

“Up till now we've been in denial of Schoolies Week and as such it has tended to hit us like a road accident.”

The Byron Youth Service's Nicqui Yazdi said having the week recognised as an event by council had allowed them to access extra funds and resources.

Byron Shire Council and Byron United recently funded Ms Yazdi to attend a national schoolies conference in Victoria where she found that towns with an effective safety response reported a 91 per cent reduction in police related incidents, a 67pc reduction in hospital emergency department presentations and a 50pc reduction in council clean-up costs.

The council has appointed an events manager and agreed to provide extra lighting, cleaning and rubbish bins. Other proposals include daytime activities and a 'hub' tent as a central assistance and information area.

The Liquor Accord will contribute with wallet-sized information leaflets and wristbands to be worn by schoolies.

There will also be additional support by 50 'Red Frogs', a volunteer support group from Brisbane who make themselves available for everything from walking kids home safely to helping them clean their rented properties.

They are currently seeking accommodation sponsorship and Ms Yazdi said every unit block would benefit from one.



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