Even when I warned him his party would spiral out of control, a Wheelers Hill kid ignored my advice and held a party last weekend.
As I predicted, it turned ugly. And the emergency services response cost tax payers (you and me) a small fortune.
Words of warning
The boy rang me last Thursday to say he needed security at a basketball party.
I asked a few questions and he said:
- There’d be 150 kids aged 16-18.
- They’d be free to bring alcohol.
- There’d be only one parent present.
I advised him that:
- He’d need four professional staff to keep control.
- He’d also need at least six parents to assist.
- Alcohol would have to be controlled at a central point.
- If he didn’t follow my recommendations, his night would be a nightmare.
The boy seemed surprised.
And didn’t call back.
I knew this event would go pear-shaped. I informed Glen Waverley Police so they’d at least have some detail on the party when they inevitably responded. Cops HATE flying blind.
Despite giving them this heads up, I still couldn’t relax on the day.
Instead of spending a pleasant Saturday night at home with my family, I felt compelled to observe how this party would unravel.
Fortunately, I was supported by one of my staff who’s similarly ardent about safe teen parties.
We arrived at the boy’s home at 9 pm and were seriously shocked.
The entire property was teeming with teens: at least 170 in the house plus another 100 milling around out the front.
A neighbour was screaming as kids jumped his fence.
Every few minutes, maxi cabs disgorged more kids, while larger groups arrived from the bus stop.
All were carrying beer slabs, massive wine casks and/or bags of pre-mixed drinks.
I thought of their parents. Had ANY asked what sort of party their offspring were attending, or whether there’d be any responsible adults around?
Amid the chaos, I saw only one security person on the front gate. I couldn’t tell if they were professional (trained, safe, insured) or amateur (volatile, dangerous, not liable).
With the frantic neighbour now on the phone, I figured the Police would arrive any minute.
When the first van arrived, the scene was daunting indeed for the two members inside.
Utterly outnumbered, they cautiously emerged clutching their flasks of capsicum spray.
Fearing for them, I let them know my colleague and I were around.
The sole parent was out the front – bawling at the cops to get everyone out.
While they liaised with him, the kids streamed over the road, taking photos next to the Police car as if it were a trophy!
After a very long ten minutes, much-needed back up arrived:
- 6 more Police vans.
- 2 Dog Squad units.
- 1 large brawler van.
It took all this to stop the music and shut the nightmare down.
How there wasn’t a death or serious injury is beyond my comprehension.
Now hear this
Parents MUST get this message before more kids (maybe theirs) die:
There are NO EXCUSES.
You can’t PLEAD IGNORANCE any more.
Do NOT let your child plan a party.
YOU do it.
YOU take responsibility.
The sooner we have teen event legislation, the better.
And don’t think the new minors and alcohol legislation that comes into effect in Feb will save us. It won’t.
Because it doesn’t cover BYO events like this.
Parent’s MUST be made accountable.
It’s YOUR money, Ralph!
At a very conservative estimate, the Police response to this event cost $5000.
Worse, these precious resources were diverted from serious, legitimate crime prevention at the busiest time of the week.
All neighbouring suburbs were stripped of their ability to respond.
Tough luck if YOU needed a divvy van to catch that burglar you heard on Saturday!
You and I are paying for this shameful waste with our taxes.
We’re paying more and getting less.
So, if you can’t do the right thing your kids,
at least do it for yourself!
PS. I got some excellent video footage of this debacle, if you’re interested.
Naomi Oakley, Founder, Safe Partying Australia.