By Miranda Wood, Education Reporter, November 18 2002
Date rape and drugs
Date rape drugs have been targeted by police during
schoolies week this year as a record number of NSW school-leavers
start arriving at the Gold Coast.
The main streets of Surfers Paradise have been transformed
into a party zone for the 50,000 schoolies expected
during the month-long celebrations, which includes about
18,000 students from NSW.
But the teenagers are being warned to constantly watch
their drinks after a spate of drink-spiking cases in
Officials are concerned for the safety of young women
- 28 sexual assaults were reported during the schoolies
period last year.
A total of 194 drink-spiking incidents were reported
to the Gold Coast Sexual Assault Service in the last
The service's spokeswoman Di Macleod said young women
from interstate were more vulnerable to sexual predators
as they were less aware of sex drugs.
"It's not about the drugs, it's about the rape,"
"We'll be here during schoolies to pick up the
pieces at the other end."
Leading up to schoolies, the Queensland Government
banned the sex drug Eden which is an easily obtained
veterinary tranquilliser and can be extracted on a stove
Its symptoms include dream-like intoxication and an
inability to feel pain and movement.
Areas designated as "chill-out zones", staffed
by health workers and volunteers, are available to school-leavers
requiring help or basic first aid.
Drug Arm Australia health promotions co-ordinator Judith
Hart, who works at the chill-out zones, said: "There
are always a few incidences of drink-spiking during
"What people don't know is that 10 per cent of
victims are male."
Ms Macleod said the high number of nightclubs in Surfers
Paradise attracted sexual predators.
"When I speak with other sexual assault services
in the State, it does seem that most reports come from
the Gold Coast," she said.
Police officer in charge of schoolies, Inspector Ken
Fox, said school-leavers must always keep an eye on
their drinks and never accept alcohol from strangers.
"It is a problem," he said.
Meanwhile, officials will also be on the lookout for
a drug cocktail called crank, which has been available
in Queensland for the past nine months.
It is a mixture of cocaine and amphetamines or heroin,
and gives users a quick but very powerful high.
Inspector Fox said drugs would always be a problem
"We'll certainly be keeping an eye on the parasites
who tend to hang around at schoolies," he said.
But despite the heavy presence of uniformed and plain-clothes
police, one schoolie claimed drugs were easy to come
Daniel Palazzolo, 17, of the Gold Coast, said: "You
can get it from anywhere, you just have to ask around.
"There are heaps of dealers here.
"Ecstasy is the big drug, more so than pot, because
it makes you want to party."
Schoolies is believed to be the most profitable month
of the year for Gold Coast drug peddlers, with cannabis,
speed and ecstasy the common drugs sold.
Ms Hart said most schoolies were using amphetamines
such as speed instead of cannabis.
"Speed has increased in popularity with the younger
age groups," she said. "They will quite often
bring their supplies with them here instead of buying
from dealers." Ms Hart said 2 per cent of schoolies
would take drugs, compared with the 90pc that would
Police and liquor licensing authorities will conduct
their biggest schoolies blitz on under-age drinking
But the number of arrests at schoolies will not be
released - for the second year in a row - in an effort
to fight bad publicity.
The annual pilgrimage of students to the Gold Coast
is growing every year and will inject a record $30 million
into the local economy.
About 14,600 NSW students have booked their Gold Coast
stay through Break Free Holidays - 2,600 more than last
year. Break Free manager Matt Lloyd said most students
were from Sydney and the central coast.
"The majority of NSW students will arrive on the
Gold Coast from this weekend," he said.