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Curtin University
National Drug Research Institute

Preventing Harmful Drug Use In Australia

Alcohol and other drug use at school leavers' celebrations in Western Australia

School leavers' celebrations are an event for students who have recently completed their year 12 exams. In Western Australia, where this study is focused, these celebrations are known as 'Leavers'. In other states, it is usually referred to as 'Schoolies'. The aims of this study were to estimate levels of alcohol and other drug use at Leavers, to identify associated harms and to explore influences on such use and related harm.

Two factsheets, one for parents and one for students, were developed to supplement the main report. Information in these factsheets was based on surveys with people who went to Leavers at a popular Western Australian celebration site. 541 people were surveyed before and 402 after the celebrations. As heavier drinkers are more likely to go to events such as Leavers, the information in these factsheets does not represent what the 'average' young person does. To view the factsheets in pdf format, click on the corresponding thumbnail:

Leavers: parents factsheet Leavers: parents factsheet (pdf)

Factsheet 1: Parents can make a difference

Alcohol was used by the clear majority of leavers, and mostly at risky levels, with more than half drinking at least 11 standard drinks a day. Of the 25% of leavers who said their parents provided them with alcohol at the celebrations, 89% drank at levels considered risky for adults by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC). Young people who perceived their parents would approve of them consuming more than 4 standard drinks in a single sitting reported heavier alcohol use. Conversely, young people drank less at Leavers if they had discussed strategies with their parents about how to keep safe while drinking.

Leavers: student factsheet Leavers: student factsheet (pdf)

Factsheet 2: Tips for celebrating students

Although heavy drinking was commonplace, most young people overestimated what other leavers were drinking. The heaviest drinkers may attract the most attention, but they don't necessarily represent the 'average leaver'. The national guidelines recommend that it is safest for young people not to drink at all. However, if you do decide to drink, this factsheet contains some tips on how you and your mates can stay safe during the celebrations.

Project Team

Principal Investigator:

Dr Tina Lam, National Drug Research Institute, Curtin University

Chief Investigators:

Professor Steve Allsop, National Drug Research Institute, Curtin University
Professor Tanya Chikritzhs, National Drug Research Institute, Curtin University

Contact Person:

Media representatives who would like to report on this research are invited to contact NDRI's media officers.

This project was supported by the Western Australian Department for Communities - Youth.