Tens of thousands of Year 12 students have once again descended on the Gold Coast for Schoolies Week, the annual festival where school leavers from across Australia come together to relax in the sun, binge drink and get raped.
Nicole Withers, 17, of Pymble NSW, is a typical schoolie looking to wind down after a tough year of studying. "I really needed to relax after all that massive pressure to do well in my exams," she said. "So I came to a place where there’s massive pressure to drink so much that you need to have your stomach pumped. It’s pretty cool."
The event has a reputation for attracting some unsavoury patrons. Organisers hope that there are fewer unwanted older guests this year, and also fewer unwanted pregnancies. But this seems unlikely thanks to an unfortunate coincidence which, for the fifteenth year in a row, saw Schoolies Week held at the same location as Toolies Week, the annual event for older perverts who want to get into drunken brawls and molest unconscious high school students.
But Withers sees the perpetual Toolie presence as a plus. “I was planning on getting wasted on about ten Lemon Ruskies last night, but it turned out some crusty old dude slipped rohypnol into my drink instead," she said. "He probably saved me a fortune."
"We had an awesome time," she said. "At least I think we did, I can’t actually remember anything. But I woke up with less bruising than some of my girlfriends did, and the guy actually left his Hotmail address, so I’m calling it a success."
But despite the somewhat sleazy aspects of Schoolies, Withers views the experience as a vital step in her transition to adulthood. “Waking up and not remembering anything about the sex you probably didn’t consent to the night before is a perfect introduction to next year, when I’ll be living in a university college,” she said.