1304.5 - Stats Talk WA, Dec 2009  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 11/12/2009   
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Surviving Leavers
Leave It To The Schoolies

Yes everyone, it’s that time of year again, TEE and leavers!

According to the 2006 Census of Population and Housing, 28,137 Western Australian students left school in 2006 and similar numbers are expected this year.

I am one of many who identify themselves as TEE and Leaver’s Survivors. That is, a parent of a school leaver. We are the emotional boxing bag, psychological counsellors, mind readers, taxi service, and personal automatic teller machines that are taken for granted by our offspring.

Now, you might think that 28,137 leavers equates to 56,274 parents, but Census data tells us that a quarter of children live in single parent families. This drops our parent numbers to 49,244 parents.

Part of growing up is about taking responsibility for one’s self. Leaver’s celebrations can be the epitome of this. This leads to the dreaded “Let’s talk about your attending Leaver’s Week” conversation.

That’s of course if you said it in English, which 85% of potential school leavers used as their main language at home. The other major languages of leavers were Mandarin, Cantonese, Vietnamese and Indonesian.

Interestingly there were 9 who stated their main language was “non-verbal, so described”. This isn’t sign language as that’s covered elsewhere, but I’m sure most parents would be familiar with the grunts, shoulder shrugs and constant texting of their teenage kids and wonder why this figure wasn’t higher.

Not many plan effectively for these rites of passage from being a school kid to becoming a young adult, so finding resources to help them and providing them is essential.

So, the elephant in the room happens when you state, “We want you to have a good time but we also want to make you aware of what can possibly go wrong,” is probably one of the double edged swords we as parents have to wield.

Alcohol Risk Level (weekly consumption), 18-24 age group, Australia, 2007-2008

Getting up to no good?
The ABS provides a snapshot of weekly alcohol consumption in the National Health Survey (cat. no. 4364.0). "Risky drinking" is defined as seven or more standard drinks in one day for males and five or more for females. While "High Risk" drinking is eleven drinks or more for males and seven or more for females.

The table above shows a steady increase in the levels of risky/high risk drinking by young people over a 15 year period. Between 2001 and 2004-05 females in this category rose sharply, though in 2007-08 the boys are still ahead.

In my constant quest to find common ground with our daughter and her friends I found an excellent website hosted by the Office of Crime Prevention. This website has good advice on planning for leavers celebrations for young people and includes some of the dangers that may befall them. It can be found at <www.leaverswa.com.au/>.

I went through the grief of preparing our young adult for leavers. Happily, it all went well and I am very proud of how she took up the leadership role when a few unplanned things happened.

So, the “Yes Mum!” stated with attitude, did actually mean, “Yes Mum, I have heard you and taken on board what you have said, so please trust me to act accordingly”.

And they all lived happily ever after!

Hayley Priestley

Article by: Hayley Priestley,
TEE and Leavers Survivor