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Schoolies get lesson on drinking

Amy Costello (Red Frog), Hugh Donovan, Sgt Steve McDonald, Max Hurley and Sophie O’Shea get together at St John’s College, Nambour to talk about safe drinking habits.
Amy Costello (Red Frog), Hugh Donovan, Sgt Steve McDonald, Max Hurley and Sophie O’Shea get together at St John’s College, Nambour to talk about safe drinking habits. John Mccutcheon

THOUSANDS of graduating school students will celebrate schoolies week next month before they head out into the big wide world.

But before that, hundreds on the Sunshine Coast are being told that drinking alcohol is a privilege, not a right.

In a sweeping approach to educating graduating teenagers, workshops at Coast schools are encouraging students to think before they drink. In little over a month, Year 12 students will let their hair down at schoolies celebrations on the Gold Coast and elsewhere.

"It's going to be good," Sophie O'Shea, a Year 12 student at St John's College, said.

"It will be kind of scary getting out there in the big world."

After a week at Rainbow Beach, 17-year-old Sophie plans to study a Bachelor of Arts at a Brisbane university. She said while her friends and most peers drank responsibly, a workshop yesterday was a timely reminder to stay safe.

"I think one of the most important things I took away from it was staying safe when you're out with friends and making sure you stay together," she said.

Hugh Donovan, 17, is in the same graduating class as Sophie.

"It wasn't discouraging drinking, they accepted that it's going to happen," Hugh said.

"It's more about looking after your friends and how to be safe and looking out for one another.''

The My Life, My Decision, My Responsibility initiative is run by liquor management group CALM Mooloolaba, along with police, Queensland Transport and Sunshine Coast Regional Council.

It includes sharing stories with students about drunken violence and people who fall victim to crimes because they are intoxicated and vulnerable.

The council's community programs manager Mike Lollback said there was a lack of education about "the realities of the 18-plus life they will move into".

"At 18, people can vote, get their driver's licence, legally drink alcohol and go into licensed premises.

"It's an exciting time," Mr Lollback said. "The program hopes to instil in these young people the need to make responsible decisions for the safety of themselves and their friends.

"No one is saying don't drink, but if you are going out with friends to a licensed venue and you are going to drink, plan to get home safely."

Topics:  alcohol schoolies underage drinking


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