Red Frogs Founder and National Director, Andy Gourley, said an important role of the Red Frog volunteers is to provide a positive presence within young people's party culture. "By providing practical support, such as cooking pancakes, cleaning rooms and walking or busing young people home, our volunteers are also available to provide emotional support during the transition out of high school and into adulthood," he said.
"We try to be a fence at the top of the cliff, rather than an ambulance at the bottom", said Andy, "and encourage young people to enjoy a safe schoolies, looking after their mates and themselves. Our volunteers are there to serve and support the future leaders of our nation, hoping to assist them have a positive experience rather than one with negative consequences."
Red Frogs Australia also conduct seminars in high schools, tackling topics such as looking after your mates, making wise choices and ensure schoolies and parents have the Red Frog Hotline. Over 200 schools sessions were conducted this year, around Australia, 30 in Victorian schools.
Red Frogs started in 1997 at Gold Coast Schoolies and has grown rapidly, with over 1200 volunteers now deployed annually to support school-leavers through their week long celebrations at the end of Year 12.
Red Frogs, in Victoria provides support for "schoolies" staying in Lorne, Torquay, Rye and Phillip Island, and is coordinated by Mark Gellie.
"We play a part in supporting schoolies during the schoolies period working with the local council, youth workers, the police, hospital, local businesses and the accommodation providers. We all work together to ensure that the schoolies have a good time but importantly a safe time," Mark Gellie said.
The Red Frogs teams in Victoria put on free BBQs and pancake breakfasts for the schoolies and operate a free shuttle busses, as well, the red frog volunteers are available to walk the young people home to their accommodation. Additionally, the Red frog crew in Lorne and Rye, run a chill out zone, which is a alcohol free space, where they can to hang out safely, as well be rehydrated, with free water and free food is available also.
If there are worried parents or school-leavers, there is a hotline to help during schoolies celebrations, with Red Frog volunteers manning the Red Frog hotline 24 hours a day.
Last year the hotline logged nearly 6000 calls during Schoolies week. School leavers can use the hotline to request a visit from a Red Frog chaplaincy team, book in a pancake breakfast or talk to someone if they are worried about a friend. Parents can also call the number if they are concerned about their teenager and a team will try to discretely ensure that they are safe.
Last year saw a huge increase in requests for a relatively new Red Frog service called 'walk homes'. This is where schoolies who find themselves alone or separated from their friends call a team of volunteers to walk them back to their accommodation.
For more information, visit www.redfrogs.com.au or 1300 557 123