Red Frogs look after Queensland’s youth

3 Apr
Emily wk 11

Fans of the Red Frogs enjoy a night out in Surfers Paradise. Picture: Emily Bradfield

By Emily Bradfield, Bond University Journalism Student

Red Frogs Australia has grown from a bag of Allen’s Red Frogs from the corner store to 20 tonnes of the popular sweet nationwide in their 20 years of operation.

What started as a group of church friends looking after a small group of Schoolies has grown to a global network safeguarding young adults, educating teenagers and providing help at university parties.

The Red Frogs began in 1997 when Founder and CEO Andy Gourley was declined entrance to a Surfers Paradise hotel to help a group of teenagers he was mentoring.

Gourley, a Pastor at Citipointe Church, refused to let this stop him, approaching the hotel manager the following day offering help to look after the 400 Schoolies in the hotel for free.

Providing Allen’s Red Frogs as a peace offering, the group, originally called ‘hotel chaplaincy’, gained access to the hotel parties and were fondly nicknamed the ‘Red Frogs’ by the Schoolies.

Since then the Red Frogs have become national heroes working to improve the drinking culture in young people.

Communications and Marketing Manager of Red Frogs Australia Bek Dukes said young people are becoming more responsible in recent years when it comes to decision making involving alcohol.

“Last year at Schoolies it was the healthiest year that we have seen in the 20 years we’ve been doing this,” she said.

“We’ve seen a change over the last 20 years in the way that young people approach party lifestyle and see value and worth in themselves, and it’s great.

“It’s really rewarding to see the positivity and the healthy culture that’s starting to happen as well as an increase in the way that they’re looking after each other and making better lifestyle and party choices.”

Miss Dukes said the education programs run by Red Frogs in the lead up to Schoolies and even in younger years are a contributing factor to this change.

Last year the Red Frogs gave 469 presentations at schools, teaching a total of 59, 772 students the value of partying safe, along with other valuable lessons.

While Schoolies is the poster child, it is no longer the Red Frogs’ biggest program, instead it acts as an introduction to university, Miss Dukes said.

Last year, the Red Frogs helped at 17 University of Queensland parties, providing hydration stations and free fairy bread and donuts.

First year University of Queensland student Laura Moody said the Red Frogs also run a medical tent, helping her at an O-week party this year.

“The Red Frogs helped me wash out my eye as well as looking out for my general safety after the fluid of a glow stick was flicked in it when I was dancing,” she said.

“They are personally important to me not only due to the role they play in community but how they have had an impact on the safety of many teens, including myself and many close friends.

“They provide a safety net making events more enjoyable, knowing if troubles were to arise there are responsible people there to help you.”

Miss Dukes said while they have seen a trend in young people making better decisions and looking after each other, there is always a need for a sober friend.

“There’s still that need for us to be there to make sure that we’re safeguarding a generation,” she said.

“We feel like no one else is going to be there to make sure these young people are getting home safe and making the right decisions that they won’t regret or impact their future.

“If we’re not there doing it then who will?”

Miss Dukes said Red Frogs Australia rely on their long-term sponsors, as well as the proceeds they receive from hosting their annual Gala Dinner for funding

“Our funding has increased, however so has our reach – so it is definitely relative and we always need more support to keep up with the demand and resourcing our crew to the best that we can,” she said.

Long-term sponsors of Red Frogs include Penny Skateboards, Optus and Cricket Australia.

Miss Dukes said an upcoming fund-raiser is the Annual Gala Dinner on June 13, with tickets available from http://www.redfrogstickets.com.au/

“It’s going to be a great night of celebrating 20 years and we’re also releasing our special documentary showcasing the journey of what the last 20 years has been for us,” she said.

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