Just a guy with a skateboard
“My first experience of Schoolies was in ‘96 when my skate kids invited me down to Surfers, and I remember walking around Cavill with like 30,000 Schoolies on the Gold Coast. There was stuff coming off verandahs, a full tin of VB smashed metres from me, and I watched this chair come off a building – into the pool. I remember seeing these Japanese tourists, huddled together for protection. It was out of control. When I saw this, I couldn’t just stand by and watch these young people wreck themselves and their futures. I asked myself a simple question – “what can I do?” I could never imagine what would come of that one question.” – Andy Gourley, Founder/CEO Red Frogs Australia
“A full beer can fell off a balcony and smashed through the windscreen of a car just metres away from us. I’ve never been back!” – Christine Gourley
It was a real 'spiritual wedgie' moment
Who would have known the magic of a lolly shaped like a frog....
Until they discovered the magic of a small red lolly.
The Original Pioneers - Hotel Chaplaincy
Andy Gourley, Tim McDonald, Jack McDonald, Dave Connett, Rebecca Connett, Lucy Cox, Tahnee Williams, Justin Vickers, Stu Bolger, Luke Newman, Wendy Mac, Simon Campbell, Brendan Robinson, Mick Cann, Tim Winnington, Glen Higgins and Dan Smith.
“I’m just standing there with this box of frogs thinking, these things are amazing…” - Andy
Did you know...
With a handful of crew starting the first hydration station at O Week in Bellenden Ker College at Griffith University, Brisbane.
45 Volunteers take on 30,000 Schoolies
Divert & Distract #101
Quickly learning that non-alcoholic and diversionary activities that engage young people would curve the number of incidents and alcohol-related issues; Dave, Andy and the ‘HC’ team took over the Entertainment Stage – which started out in the back of a truck on the esplanade – bumping in and bumping out every night. The crew would pack down, lock the gear away and sleep on the floor of the local church, just to do it all again tomorrow!
Finding our feet
Call Centre early days
First uni bags
The beginning of the pancake era
HC hit the Sunshine Coast
So I head in and this boy is gone. He’s started to foam and he’s twitching. His mates are a mess – running around helplessly. I jump into the bathtub and heave his 110kg mass upright (he was a footy player from out west… they called him Buddha). I knew I needed to get him sitting up and then try to roll him over into the recovery position. As I do he rouses and looks at me with bleary eyes and says “hey ladyyy… am I about to get lucky?” I sighed and said “yes mate… lucky looks like a stomach pump tonight.” And on that note – he spewed on me. Mainly bourbon. Much bourbon. And peas. Always peas.
I’ve been with my team when we’ve held kids hands when they realise that they are scared senseless about the real world and want to end it all. We’ve beaten down doors when drunk boys decided to all take turns on a drunk girl. I was particularly wrathful that night. I’ve made pancakes in that many hotel and resort rooms that making my sons pancakes always makes me think of 17 year-olds with hangovers. I’ve laughed and cried my way though countless schoolies.
I am immensely proud of the very name of Red Frogs. It brings a mountain of memories and moments that kinda blend now I’m much closer to 40 than I like. But I remember the feeling – it was always there. The feeling of knowing the ‘why’ I was there. And that feeling, it never left. Every year. Every location. It was there. It made the vomit bearable.” – Suz Gakowski, Red Frogs volunteer.
Doing the hard yards
It's a real problem, ok
“Schoolies in the Whitsundays was developed in light of the learnings of other schoolies programs including the Gold and Sunshine Coasts. Subsequently, right from the start Schoolies needed to be registered in order to participate in the many free or low cost activities that were being held just for them. This was a 100% Schoolies only program and a schoolies photo ID card was developed early on after it was discovered wristbands were not secure enough. This identification assisted in discouraging older people hanging around. I recall schoolies being proud to wear the ID around their necks even when they were not attending schoolies only activities. Due to a high security and police presence (and Liquor Licencing Officers), as well as a comprehensive, safe and secure schoolies only range of activities, the schoolies culture was fun and the schoolies themselves were mostly mature and responsible. I recall parents from as far as Sydney phoning me to ask about their child attending as they had heard we ran a safe schoolies program”. – Bruce Green, Youth Development Officer for Whitsundays Shire Council (2000-2008)
Call Centre Launches
Friends of the Frog
Breakfree Beachcomber resort became HQ and the first ‘Friends of the Frog’ by donating free rooms to volunteers.
Sarah Carter presented the first ‘Schoolies’ high school seminar at Browns Plains.
“A moment when I realised it was impacting schoolies culture? I suppose it’s around the same time I became a schoolies celebrity. Where ever I went kids recognised me and pointed me out because I went to their school. I guess I figured if they remembered me hopefully they also remembered what I said. It was also great when kids would tell me they made different choices because of the education program. Often girls told me stories of how they had arguments with friends at schoolies and then they all said, “The Red Frog girl told us we would have arguments.” Then they said it was easier to make up and become friends again just because they were prepared for it.” – Sarah Coleman (Carter), Education Program Pioneer
Red Frogs Victoria Launches
Mark Gellie and his faithful team of volunteers kick off the Red Frog response at Lorne Schoolies celebrations.
Educating, Empowering and Equipping
You do what you gotta do
First year of State Government funding for the Schoolies response
Stepping up the Entertainment
I was sitting with a girl who had been sexually assaulted
The start of a long and beautiful partnership.
“Andy had been asking me for a few years to come up, so I finally decided it was time to see what they did. We were on the knife edge of the donation being slashed so I had to see for myself. I couldn’t believe the power and the respect Red Frogs volunteers had earned from not only the school kids but the service teams – police, ambulance, security. Red Frogs were making a difference, each and every night, keeping kids safe. I couldn’t believe Nestle was on the verge of cutting off this donation – I had to spread the word at Nestle HQ and I had to do it quickly.
Sitting on the plane flying back to Sydney I wrote a long email to our head of confectionery Martin Brown and the then head of Marketing outlining what I had witnessed and the part that the little Allen’s red frog was playing to build a movement to keep kids safe during a time when emotions run high for school leavers. From that day, we began to build a strong relationship with Red Frogs sending up key heads of Businesses and the Allen’s Brand teams to witness the work Red Frogs is doing not only at Schoolies but also in university orientation weeks. We have built our donation from those early days when I got involved from 8 tonnes a year to now 24 tonnes. We are also working more closely with Andy and his team to build on and align with the good work Red Frogs is doing in the community. I’m proud to say that we’ve built a strong partnership with Red Frogs – something I’m sure will continue to grow well into the future.” – Anita Catalano, Allens.
Red Frog Boardriders do their first major skate trip “Big Bus Tour” and begin a 13 year partnership with JC Epidemic
The Big Bus Tours partnered with Youth Alive and local churches with the purpose of encouraging local youth, meeting them where they were at in life, and being a positive peer presence in the often drug and alcohol influenced communities.
Gold Coast Schoolies core team
'HC' out, 'Red Frogs' in
A love note
Schoolies set sail
Frogs provide their first Festival response at Dreamscape Festival in Cairns, focusing on patron welfare and assisting emergency services. Red Frogs now support over 701,000 festival goers nationally each year including Australia’s largest festival, Splendour in the Grass.
We tried to warn them!
“I remember one year as we were preparing for the arrival of 4 bus loads of Schoolies for the Keppel Island event we heard that the 4 buses would be searched by police on arrival at the marina. We rang our Red Frogs on each of the buses and gave them the news. Turns out the buses had a quick stop in a Rockhampton park where most of the Schoolies ditched their alcohol. Some of the Schoolies were doubtful of our intel and they kept their booze. Sure enough when the buses arrived at the marina they were boarded by police & bags were searched and alcohol confiscated. After that we were the Schoolies heroes and we all enjoyed Schoolies week with almost no alcohol anywhere on the island” – Kevin Whittington, Red Frogs volunteer.
Uni Student Testimony
Uni program launches in WA
The first room our team visited were a classic schoolies boy crew. ZERO FOOD. Bulk grog. The unit was a pig-sty and one boy had already been taken to hospital but before he had left he had vomited blood all over the bed. I still remember the snap of the glove on my hand as I got into cleaning up.
That was our main room for our team that week and we delivered food twice a day. Pancakes in the morning and dropping boxes and boxes of Maggi noodles in the afternoon. We eventually met the boy who had been taken to hospital and learnt he had received two lots of vital brain surgery that year with about a 60% chance for success. A pretty scary experience for anyone let alone a high school student.
There were heaps of firsts that year, so many friendships made and 10 years later a lot of who I am today is shaped by the experience that started there.” – Jethro Blyth, Red Frogs volunteer
Optus/Network Communications begin donating 5% of every mobile phone plan bill towards RF through their charity plan. Previously getting by on donations and self-fundraising, the Mobile Charity Plan quickly became the primary source of monetary support towards the ongoing Red Frog programs and allows RF to better resource their response in many areas of the community.
How I became a Red Frog
I had my plan and my day set. I had packed my room into cardboard boxes so my family wouldn’t have to, and was sitting on the couch when I heard a knock at the door. The Froggies had bought giant Freddos for everyone, with a little envelope. On the envelope, there was a quick little hello and some numbers in case we needed anything. A Frog named Tara looked me in the eyes, and emphasised it was for anything we need at any time, and left.
The night I had chosen came, and I was suddenly terrified. I felt like I had absolutely no one in the world, but for whatever reason I remembered the envelope. I took a risk and texted Tara. I didn’t tell her what was going on, just kinda said hey. She invited me to a stationary coffee crawl they were holding in the pavilion the next night, so I took that as a lifeline and I went.
I didn’t expect Tara to remember me, but not only did she remember my name, she paid for my $1 milo. That seemingly nothing little act of kindness lead to a conversation on the balcony that saved my life. Through that frog team, I was able to get to a point in my life where I could start giving back. So I joined the frogs.
For years, I handed out frogs, flipped pancakes, bbq’d sausages, sat in gutters holding back hair, cleaned hotel rooms, mediated with managers, ran hydration stations, lead and supervised teams and had the most fun doing life with the greatest people I’ll ever meet.
I was honoured to share at a Annual Gala, as a face to what a dollar can do. I am still filled with pride every time I tell our stories and smile whenever I see someone in a frog shirt.
The Red Frogs saved my life and invested in me when I had nothing. When I was nothing. When I’d given up on myself, they took over and gave me the strength I needed to push through.
I still have my first Red Frog shirt (the pirate ship) and every time I look at it I remember that time I got to be a part something that made the world a better place, life by life.” – Kait Kruger, Red Frogs volunteer
Uni Frogs take off
Red Frogs now have volunteer teams available nation-wide, supporting approximately 90% of residential colleges and halls.
Red Frogs University Survey
Red Frogs found that:
- Nearly 1 in 3 students, given the choice, would prefer attending a non-alcoholic event as opposed to an alcoholic event.
- 54% of students admitted that they regularly consumed alcohol in order to feel accepted and a part of college culture.
- 43% of students know someone on their college who suffers from a type of depression.
- 44% of college students drink 1-2 times a week, with 22% of those drinking 7-9 drinks in one session.
Positive Peer Presence
Red Frogs Boardriders & Penny Skateboards
Why I do Red Frogs
Red Frogs Support Network Canada launches
Bringing couples together since '97
First Splendour in the Grass response
There are so many more stories like this, where our teams are in exactly the right place, at exactly the right time.” – Chris George, Festivals Coordinator for Red Frogs
Realising the need for a greater patron management strategy amidst the Australian sporting culture, Cricket Australia engage Red Frogs to focus on patron welfare during matches. The results have been invaluable with less heat stroke, diversion of sledging and aggressive behaviour and reducing alcohol-related issues.
Some areas that Red Frogs have assisted in the sporting arena are promoting early intervention strategies when players aren’t in the best frame of mind to make the right choices, providing support around mental health/high stress as well as supporting players families through tough times.
In a year Red Frogs assisted 564 different players, coaches and admin staff.
Red Frogs are now recognised as an integral part of the Bali Schoolies response by the Australian Consulate-General in preventing harm and minimising risk to young people.
Uni Student Testimony
“I live over this wall, I’m just going home.”
“Um, I don’t think you do, buddy. That’s the M1 motorway.”
They asked to give me a lift home, and I clambered into their van to sit, nakedly clutching a vomit bag, for the most awkward drive of my life. They were very kind though, and politely avoided mentioning the fact that I’d just thrown a chair onto the freeway or that I was flashing them all. Two years later I’m eternally grateful to the Red Frogs, and am proud to confirm that I do now know my way home from UBar.” – Uni Student, NSW.
Why you should take candy from strangers
In a world of high performance anxiety and pressure, Andy continues to have a positive peer presence on the sporting community – now acting as the Team Chaplain for the Reds Rugby team as well as the Brisbane Bullets.
The Godbowl facility dream becomes a reality with the wall built in the Epicentre and the outdoor section completed.
Girls Only Session begins.
Now reaching 1.2 million people annually through high schools, universities, sports, Schoolies/Leavers, leadership training, skate parks and music festivals, Red Frogs have had a lasting impact on a generation and will continue to safeguard the next generation in the years to come.
“I’d like to say a massive thank you to Red Frogs. I forgot the ladies who supported me when I came crying to the tent at schoolies Gold Coast 2016. I felt like I had someone to talk to and didn’t feel alone. The lady who first sat with me was absolutely so helpful. I forgot her name but I’m thankful she gave me a hug and helped me calm down. After a while two international frogs came down and sat with me. I can only remember a lady named Katie. But one of the girls was from Brazil and one was from America. They both talked to me and honestly I felt so supported like I had no worries in the world. The girl from America gave me her jumper to wear. They eventually got a group of frogs together to take me home. If I didn’t have Red Frogs I don’t know what I would of done. Thank you so much.” – Melanie, Schoolie.
Help Red Frogs make a difference in the next 20 years
Thank you. You are helping change the lives of young people all over Australia.