Action plan to deal with onslaught of Schoolies

With the countdown to Schoolies on, a plan of action is being prepared to help with the thousands of young people expected in Byron Bay for the annual celebrations.

Byron United is spearheading the plan with assistance from the Byron Shire Council, police, Byron Bay Community Centre, Byron Bay Liquor Accord, The Buttery, Cape Byron Security, Byron Core Values Group, Byron Youth Service and businesses.

A meeting held on Tuesday night investigated best-practice models from around Australia and ways to implement them in Byron Bay.

John Gudgeon from Byron United said it was essential that the community got together to manage the impact of Schoolies.

“It’s encouraging to see so many participants getting together to have a positive impact on the management of Schoolies,” he said.

“The convening of this strategic group will hopefully ensure that the police get extra assistance and that a management policy is put in place to minimise the impact of Schoolies.

“These young people are entitled to celebrate and enjoy a coming-of-age ritual, but we want to ensure that they respect our town and the community.”

Mr Gudgeon said that 90 per cent of Schoolies returned to Byron Bay at some stage for a holiday.

Byron United, along with the Byron Shire Council, recently contributed to funding a Byron Youth Services representative to attend a national Schoolies conference in Victoria.

That representative was Nicqui Yazdi, the director of the MindRight Institute and team leader of BUDDI – Byron Underage Drinking and Drug Initiative.

At last week’s council meeting, Mayor Cr Jan Barham said council had to establish a plan of action in relation to Schoolies and what costs were involved.

She said there were a number of management issues that needed addressing and these included waste management; surf lifesaving; beach cleaning; toilet cleaning; information and education including health; hospital, ambulance and police services; and organised recreational activities.

Last year the council spent nearly $14,000 on works required to deal with litter control and other activities during Schoolies.

This year’s Schoolies will be held from November 21 to December 5.

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