Young Salvos join Red Frog Crew in Bali to care for ‘schoolies’
BY ANTHONY CASTLE
Salvationist Chloe Spence has volunteered with Red Frogs Crew since 2019 after hearing about the opportunity at Salvation Army youth events.
Red Frogs Australia is a youth charity that provides support at events attended by school leavers and university students. The volunteers, known as the Red Frogs Crew, participate in schoolies week and this year, a group of Salvos travelled to Bali to support young Australian school leavers overseas.
“I’ve done Red Frogs three times before, but this was my first time in Bali,” explains Chloe. “It’s a different culture, a different environment. Schoolies is far more contained in a place like the Gold Coast, where it can be more spread out somewhere like Bali, more remote and removed from services.”
The Red Frogs Crew were named after the confectionary that volunteers often hand out to young people, but Red Frogs Crew also walk school leavers home from events, offer food and water, and provide a caring presence for those at risk.
“The services in Bali are also quite different, without all the healthcare and supports available in the ways you’d have back home,” Chloe says. “We saw one young guy who’d had an accident on a bike ... he’d scraped his face and arm and broken a wrist. He wasn’t going to get any help until he’d made it back to Australia.”
Schoolies Week, a week-long holiday for students graduating high school, has become a rite of passage in Australian culture but is also often host to binge drinking and sexual assault. Schoolies events in Australia have seen arrests, hospitalisations, and even deaths.
“The worst-case scenarios are the same in Bali,” Chloe says. “There’s alcohol poisoning, injury, assault, but without the usual supports. We saw one young woman who came out of a bar and was absolutely unable to move. She’d clearly had her drink spiked. There are places and people around that aren’t safe, just like in Australia. The dangers are real.”
More than 1500 volunteers, including many Salvos, choose to support young people during Schoolies Week in Australia each year, walking out the vision to ‘safeguard a generation’.
“We really just want to be that caring presence, to be there for people who are taking risks and are far from home,” Chloe says. “We made sure we could be at the bars and the beaches where they were, connecting with them and finding out what they need.”
Any interested in participating in Red Frogs Crew can reach out online for more information here