It’s supposed to be a night to have fun, let your hair down and celebrate the end of the school year.
But Leavers celebrations in WA are set to come with an added hassle this year – and it has nothing to do with proof of vaccination.
Leavers WA has banned all bags to be taken to schoolies’ end-of-year celebrations at Dunsborough, the southwest holiday hotspot which will see up to 10,000 schoolies descend next week.
It means that schoolies entering the Leavers “Entertainment Zone” will have to carry everything they need in their hands – or their pockets.
Leavers WA, which is overseen by WA Police, introduced the policy in an attempt to stamp out drugs and alcohol at the event.
But parents – and their school-leaving kids – are not happy, saying it discriminates against women who need to carry sanitary products, and poses security risks and even health risks for people who need to carry essential medication.
A Change.org petition, “Leavers WA – Allow small handbags into Leavers events,” already has 3,000 signatures of a 5,000 signature goal.
“Leavers WA are banning young women and men from wearing handbags into their four organised events in Dunsborough this year,” the petition statement reads.
“Girls and guys without pockets are expected to carry in their hands, two forms of ID, phones, phone charges, sanitary items, medications such as epipens, asthma puffers and diabetic meds, car and accommodation keys.
“Alternatively girls can bring a medical authority and check their medications in with the medics where they will be locked away.
“In case of emergency, they are expected to run through the crowd to the medical tent, produce ID and then their medication will be unlocked and provided to them.
“If you require sanitary products you can line up at the registration counter and ask for them – no choice as to what you use on/in your body and carry them to the toilets – no respect for privacy.
“This does not even address safety concerns over lost/flat phones if you find yourself in an uncomfortable or dangerous situation or lost accommodation keys.
“Alternatively, dress like a guy or be a guy and bring in what you want in your pockets.”
The campaign is hashtagged #period #safetyforall and #respect.
‘Alternatively, dress like a guy or be a guy and bring in what you want in your pockets.’
“Girls need to feel safe and need to be able to have basic necessities on them,” one petition signer wrote.
“Leavers is gonna cause more harm than good by not allowing safe access to medical resources and a reliable way of contacting help. Sort it out Leavers WA,” another wrote.
“Young women need to be able to carry personal items in a secure manner,” a third said.
“Girl’s clothes don’t have pockets & checking valuables into a cloak room is just not practicable.
“If you don’t trust them then perhaps you shouldn’t be hosting the event.”
Petition organiser Justine Cerini called the rule a “clear display of misogyny.”
“It’s the right, regardless of gender, to have immediate access to life-saving personal medication,” Cerini said.
“It’s also the right for women to have immediate and discreet access to sanitary products.
“Then there’s the safety concerns around the need to have access to a charged mobile phone along with keys to accommodation.”
One concerned parent told 7NEWS.com.au the rule could potentially lead to more instances of theft.
“There’s an increased chance of pickpocketing and theft when people are supposed to carry phones, car and house keys, money, ID, medication, sanitary products, water and any other necessities in their hands for five hours at a time,” the parent told 7NEWS.com.au.
In a statement provided to Cerini, Leavers WA said the bag ban was introduced to “prevent contraband such as drugs and alcohol from being taken into the Entertainment Zone.”
‘In the interests of safety’
“This policy has been enforced at leavers over many years and is in the interests of the safety of leavers,” Leavers WA said.
“It was observed that when the bag policy was relaxed last year, there was an increase in medical presentations.
“Leavers will be able to take small mobile phone pouches into the Entertainment Zone, however, they will be subject to search by security.
“All the information regarding this policy is available on the Leavers WA website, and Leavers WA asks that no further individual queries are submitted on this matter.”
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