Queensland police say they will maintain a strong presence in the Noosa region as thousands of school leavers continue to arrive on the Sunshine Coast throughout the week for unofficial schoolies celebrations.
About 3000 teenagers were on Noosa’s Main Beach on Saturday night and again overnight.
Part of the beach was closed on Sunday to clean up rubbish and broken glass left behind by revellers.
However despite the mess, Acting District Superintendent Jason Overland said overall police were happy with the behaviour of schoolies.
“These young people are just there to celebrate and I understand there was some concerns around the degree of litter,” Overland said.
“There was a 100 square metre area that was fenced off and the council took care of it within a couple of hours.
“I’ve seen some of the social media commentary and I think it’s a little unfair.”
He said officers expected to see much of the same of what had happened in the area over the last few nights.
“Last night, there was only about 10 or 15 kids on the beach, however, that number swelled quite quickly,” he said.
“Obviously with social media they’re able to contact one another and they massed in that one location, which does give us the capability to provide them with security and safety in that one location.”
Police also said an assault that happened in Noosa overnight was not schoolies related.
Overland said from a policing perspective things were going as well as could be expected, with between 200 to 400 mounted police patrolling the area each night.
“Over the past few days, we’ve taken action on 25 occasions — I think 16 of those are related to school leavers or young people who have just finished school — the rest are not,” he said.
“Only a few infringements have been handed out, they range from liquor offences, street offences, public nuisance and so forth.
“The police are doing a lot of proactive stuff out there — tipping out alcohol where appropriate, giving people move-on directions, sending people home.”
Noosa Mayor Clare Stewart said while she understood it had been a difficult year for the Year 12 cohort, they needed to be respectful of Noosa and its residents.
“People are quick to judge but we have to have some latitude in letting kids enjoy themselves,” she said.
“The main thing I’d ask is for the kids to be respectful or our environment, beaches, and our residents, because the waste and mess is causing some problems with having to close beaches.
“It’s important they show some respect to their surrounds.”
She said Noosa had never had as many school leavers celebrate in the region as this year and so far the benefits outweighed the negatives.
“Because all the events on the Gold Coast were cancelled, we’ve had more than normal — we always had some — but certainly not the numbers we are seeing this year,” she said.
“It’s a catch-22 —we’ve suffered badly here due to COVID — we lost 1,200 jobs on Hastings Street alone, 4,500 members of our community are on JobKeeper.
“It’s weighing up the extra income coming in from the schoolies versus the negatives that we are seeing — it’s a fine line.”
Ice man Jimmy Cool, who spent the weekend traversing Teewah Beach and Rainbow Beach, said he warned the school leavers to act responsibly, with two young people having died in vehicle rollovers on the region’s beaches this year.
“They’ve set up their camps — I tried to give them a bit of a heads-up to look after each other — they seem to be doing that, but we’ll see see how many hangovers there are,” he said.
“We’ll see how they go over the week, the police are keeping an eye on them … I haven’t seen anything silly yet at all.”
Meanwhile on the Gold Coast, police have reported significantly lower number of schoolies in Surfers Paradise compared to previous years.
It comes as official schoolies celebrations in the tourist precinct were cancelled due to COVID-19.
Gold Coast Police Chief Superintendent Mark Wheeler said generally the crowd had been well behaved and polite to police on the weekend.
“We saw some groups gathering on Surfers Paradise beach [on Sunday night] but there are plenty of police there on-hand to monitor the situation,” he said.
“Numbers generally didn’t exceed 150 to 200 people and there we no offences of note detected.”
Authorities do not know if the numbers of visiting students would grow on the Gold Coast as schoolies week continues.
“If the numbers stay as they are now, it will be really manageable,” he said.
“But in saying that, if we get more numbers we have really good overlay of policing resources to deal with whatever comes our way.
“We have got some 200 police directly involved in this response.
“We don’t want to be the fun police — we just want to make sure people adhere to the Chief Health Officer’s directions and whatever they do, they do it safely.”
– ABC / Tara Cassidy, Amy Sheehan and staffJump to next article