As thousands of students prepare to close their textbooks for the final time, the importance of looking out for your mates has never been greater.
That's the message from Red Frogs WA on the eve one of the biggest events on the Year 12 calendar, Leavers 2020.
While many are still studying and signing farewells, the team at Red Frogs have been busy packing lollies, water, food and other essential items - ready to play their part in helping the class of 2020 safely enjoy their celebrations.
For the last 20 years, the Red Frogs crew have been a fixture at WA-based events, safeguarding vulnerable students by cooking pancakes, handing out red frogs, finding them help if they need it or simply hanging out.
More than 600kg of Red Frogs - generously donated by Allen's - have been packed to be handed out at this year's celebrations in the South West.
Red Frogs WA State Director Hayden Glass encouraged this year's leavers to look out for their mates and reach out if they felt they needed help or advice.
"This year more than 250 Red Frogs volunteers will spend hundreds of hours during Leavers week to help make sure this year's event is the best one yet," he said.
"It's been an uncertain and difficult year for many of our Year 12s with the unsettling impact of COVID-19 and we are here to help them as they look to celebrate the end of their schooling and embark on a new stage of life."
Much of the work is done before the event, with Red Frogs visiting more than 85 schools and 11,500 students in WA, to help provide tips on how to have fun and be safe at the same time.
"We are a positive presence at Leavers, to act as a safety network during what can be a challenging and vulnerable time," Mr Glass said.
"We are a link between students and the emergency services as many people don't know how or are too scared to ask for help.
"In 2019 alone our call centre received more than 1200 calls for assistance ranging from drug and alcohol concerns, pancake requests or simply requesting a game of uno!"
It's a milestone year not just for Red Frogs WA, but for Mr Glass, who will be embarking on his 20th consecutive Leavers.
"While I have seen many things change over my 20-year involvement with Leavers, the premise of celebration is always the same as is our goal to make sure everyone returns safely," Mr Glass added.
"We now have the Leavers WA 2020 app and the Red Frogs hotline (1300 557 123) which are the best ways to get the latest information about Leavers activities.
"We encourage Leavers and parents to download the app, save our number in their phones and remember in an emergency - call Triple-0."
Mr Glass said they were expecting a larger than average crowd at this year's event in the South West with COVID effectively cutting off travel options outside WA.
Some extra health and safety measures were in place this year to protect volunteers and guests alike.
"Our teams will undergo a daily recorded heath check, which includes temperature readings," he said.
"There is an isolation plan should anyone become unwell and our volunteers have been retrained for safe handing out of Allen's Red Frogs and the cooking of pancakes."
At the Entertainment Zone, special consideration has been made to ensure social distancing and hygiene practices are complied with.
"This includes the installation of signage and 18 hand sanitizer stations and a cleaning company has been engaged to perform site cleans during opening hours which includes a deep clean at the end of each night," Mr Glass said.
Mr Glass said that some parents can feel nervous about their child being away for an extended period of time, so Red Frogs has some tips for parents about how to prepare their Leaver for the celebrations.
Local support services and government safety responses are in place to keep Leavers safe over the next few weeks, for more information visit www.leaverswa.com.au
For young people planning to head to Leavers, the Red Frogs can be contacted 24/7 through the hotline number 1300 557 123.
Red Frogs Top Tips for Parents
- Remind your child to call '000' in an emergency. Ambulance officers will not address legal implications; health and safety is their main concern. If in doubt, encourage your child to call 000.
- Encourage them to save the red frogs hotline number in their phone. The Red Frogs crew can be accessed 24/7 during Leavers week on our hotline. Anyone can ring for advice or information on Leavers or to request Red Frogs, pancake cook-ups, walk-homes, mediation, emergency assistance and referrals. Parents are welcome to call our hotline (1300 557 123) at any time.
- Buy them 'easily prepared food' & slabs of water. Frozen meals are a great idea and will ensure your child is fueling themselves well. Dehydration is a concern at Leavers and can lead to further health concerns, especially when combined with alcohol consumption.
- Remind them to always stay with their friends. One of Red Frogs' key safety messages for leavers is to never go anywhere alone, especially at night. It's also really important to never leave a friend alone, even in their accommodation. If someone wants to stay behind because they're not feeling well, it's best if someone else stays with them.
- Schedule a time (or a couple!) to contact them throughout leavers week. A specific prearranged time to connect with your child is one way to reduce any potential stress for you.
- Red Frogs Top Tips for Leavers
- Never walk by yourself. Always stay in groups or get the Red Frog crew to walk with you.
- Don't forget your school I.D. You'll need it for lots of things at Leavers, including getting into parties and your accommodation.
- Beware of Toolies. Toolies are people who are older and have finished school in previous years. Watch out for them.
- Avoid violence at all costs. Walk away or risk physical, emotional and criminal consequences. It takes more courage to leave than swing a punch. The choice is yours.
- Drink plenty of water. Energy drinks do not count. Limit your intake and read the scary label on the back of the can.
- Want to last the week? Allocate time to rest and refuel your body with nutritious food.
- Be super nice to your accommodation manager, staff and security.