A body corporate management company is urging apartment owners in the Gold Coast to be mindful about school leavers who are still planning on visiting the hotspot despite the state government’s decision to cancel the event.
Stratacare Gold Coast has issued a statement urging apartment communities to prepare for a “COVID schoolies without support from the authorities”.
Manager of the group, Sarah Pearson, said that despite the event being “officially” cancelled, school leavers are still coming to the Coast, and bodies corporate, as well as apartment owners, “need to be adequately prepared for what will be a non-typical schoolies”.
“Bodies corporate along with individual owners and building managers need to make definitive plans and take adequate steps to mitigate against the additional risks that this year’s schoolies will bring to their communities,” Ms Pearson said.
“Common sense tells us that without the usual dance parties and other related Schoolies events going ahead, the kids will mostly be partying within individual units, and this will exacerbate all the usual risks associated with schoolies like balcony safety, underage drinking, drugs, noise and property damage.”
Add in the complexities of the COVID-19 pandemic and apartment communities face unique challenges to hosting this year’s schoolies, Ms Pearson said.
“Bodies corporate should discuss with their manager how they intend on dealing with a breach in COVID restrictions and implement a plan before schoolies starts,” she explained.
“This should include strategies to enforce social distancing, increasing cleaning and hygiene requirements and contact-tracing protocols.”
“The pressure will be put on building management to control the number of people in the units, which can be difficult.”
That being said, while the event is controversial, Ms Pearson said for many unit owners, the high occupancy and inflated rates of schoolies is a “financial necessity that is especially vital after a devastating year for the Coast’s economy”.
“For many people, schoolies will be a much-needed financial windfall for property owners suffering through the pandemic, but apartment residents also don’t need the headache of 17-year-olds causing mayhem in their communities because they have nothing to do,” she said.
“Apartment communities must find the right balance to both take advantage of the financial opportunities that schoolies presents while protecting property and other residents as much as possible.”
Tips to mitigate the risk of schoolies
There are several things bodies corporate and property owners can do to mitigate the increased risks schoolies presents, according to Ms Pearson.
“There needs to be clear rules in place to protect the body corporate and its residents. The schoolies need to be informed of the rules and the consequences of breaking them with a zero-tolerance policy for bad behaviour or flouting social distancing requirements,” she said.
“As there are no planned activities, there is definitely a need for tighter and more robust security to work in concert with stringent guest-screening policies.”
“The building manager may have to be available for an extended period outside of their agreement to oversee the management of the schoolies.”
Ms Pearson said parents also have an important role to play.
“While the body corporate and property owners can take steps to mitigate the risks, ultimately it comes down to individual responsibility, and parents can play an important role in encouraging their kids have a safe schoolies and treat rented properties and their communities with respect,” she said.