These parents were so concerned about Schoolies, they went to see for themselves. What they saw changed their minds…
Do I let my child go to Schoolies? What goes on? Will they be safe?
Robyn Hunt and Colm Lavin say they’re ready to lend school leavers a helping hand during Schoolies.(ABC News: Tara Cassidy)
These are the questions burning in many parents’ minds as the end of school approaches for thousands of teenagers each year.
But for father-of-four Colm Lavin, the unknowns of Schoolies Week and safety concerns for his own children led him and his wife to take matters into their own hands.
As their eldest child edged closer to year 12, the pair decided to volunteer for a charity service that had been associated with the event and has cared for its school leavers since the 1980s: Rosies.
“My wife and I were a little bit worried,” he said. “We’d heard some bad reports and didn’t know how to proceed. So, we volunteered the year before our eldest was due to attend and we were quite impressed with the kids that were out there.
Mr Lavin says he was inspired to volunteer when his own kids attended Schoolies.(ABC News: Tara Cassidy)
Mr Lavin said “the experience left him and his wife feeling reassured, resulting in them volunteering at the annual event for more than a decade. You get to help kids out, listen to them, help them have a time-out … [I’ve] taken a few to the medical tent,” he said. When we saw my son, he would come over and bring all his friends,” he said. “They were proud that their mum and dad were there. It became a really positive thing. It was a fun experience, the energy of the school leavers. You get carried away in it, the sheer buzz.”
Helping kids in trouble
For 18-year Rosies veteran Robyn Hunt, her original draw to the service was different, instead wanting to help the region’s homeless people.
But after volunteering at Schoolies Week, seeing the impact the service had on, at times, vulnerable teenagers, kept her coming back. “Young people we know can do some silly things sometimes, but the idea of Rosies was to give them a safe space where they could come and talk; a bit of rest and recovery.
Ms Hunt has been volunteering at Schoolies for 18 years.(ABC News: Tara Cassidy)
Ms Hunt said over the years she had been the first to comfort a young girl who’d been molested by another school leaver, the one to call paramedics for an injured boy and to help another get home safely after a fight with friends.
“There’s all sorts of things you see and experience, but you come away knowing you’ve helped people,” she said.
The pair encouraged others interested in lending a hand, giving back or just wanting to ease their own concerns, to give volunteering a try.
“I’ve got an 11-year-old granddaughter who I’m hoping I’ll be here for when she comes through.”