Mum Slams Schoolies Website For Promoting Tinder To Students
A Brisbane mum was furious to learn Tinder had shacked up with a Schoolies booking website to target students to swipe right on their holidays, but a school leaver says most of his friends are on the app already.
Libby Marshall said she received an email from Schoolies.com on Sunday, alerting her to a new partnership between the booking company and the popular online dating app Tinder.
"Tinder is coming to Schoolies in 2019 to help you make every SINGLE moment count," the email said.
"Because we know single never has to go home early, knows all the best places and goes home with the wildest stories."
"Download the app to unlock amazing Schoolies experiences."
Marshall, who has a daughter attending Schoolies in Surfers Paradise next month, said she could hardly believe the announcement.
"At first I thought, have I read this correctly?" she told 10 News First.
"And then I was really appalled. I thought this is not the message we want to be giving to our kids," she said.
Schoolies.com is not a government-backed advisory board for Schoolies on the Gold Coast, but rather one of the central booking sites for Schoolies Week.
Students use the private company to plan their end-of-school celebrations in destinations across Australia including the Gold Coast, Byron Bay and Lorne, as well as overseas locations including Fiji and Bali.
The company also hosts events and parties across various locations.
The new initiative with Tinder will allow schoolies over 18 years of age to connect with other high school graduates and gain access to a series of exclusive events, which will be revealed closer to the event.
Schoolies.com CEO Matt Lloyd has assured parents that the safety of school leavers was at the top of the company's priorities.
"Gen Z has grown up with technology and connecting online is something they are familiar with," he said in a statement to 10 News First.
"As technology evolves, our program does too. Tinder is just one of the new tech partnerships being rolled out at Schoolies 2019."
But Marshall believes the partnership is putting the safety of attending teenagers at risk and encouraging unsafe behaviour.
"The whole mantra of safety at Schoolies is 'stay together', Tinder does the exact opposite," she said.
"It encourages people to leave their group of friends and go off and have one on one experiences with someone. We know that Schoolies is a vulnerable situation in the first instance, this adds a layer of complexity that takes it to another level of vulnerability," she claimed.
Jake*, from Sydney, said he booked his upcoming Schoolies trip to Surfers Paradise through Schoolies.com.
He also received an email promoting the Tinder partnership, but initially thought little of it.
"Look, I think people are going to use Tinder at schoolies, with or without it being partnered with Schoolies, but this way its got an extra bonus of VIP passes," he told 10 daily.
"I don't think it will be encouraging people to do anything that they are not already inclined to do."
Jake said he and most of his friends are already signed up to Tinder and that he felt hooking up with people would probably be among the "top three priorities" for attendants.
"Along with having a drink and fun with your mates," he added.
Queensland Tourist Minister Kate Jones said the partnership was a "massive step backwards" for official Schoolies organisers, who have been working to create a safe environment for school leavers on the Gold Coast.
"As a parent myself, I do not support this partnership with Tinder," she said on Tuesday.
"I think we should give it a huge swipe to the left and reject it. We have worked really hard as a government to build safe and responsible experiences where our young people can come and have a great time at Schoolies. So I share parents' concerns."
The Queensland government does not promote Schoolies, but it does respond to it.
The Safer Schoolies response is focussed on keeping school leavers in the state safe, providing on the ground support and services to young people gathering in key locations.
In a statement to 10 daily, Safer Schoolies Response Advisory Board Chairman Mark Reaburn reiterated the group has nothing to do with commercial operations like Schoolies.com.
10 daily has reached out to Tinder for comment.
It comes less than a month after Queensland researchers called for better sex education after a study found that two-thirds of Schoolies attendants didn't know they could access emergency contraception without a prescription.
Half of the respondents also falsely assumed the emergency pill -- most commonly referred to as the "morning-after pill" was only effective up to 24 hours after unprotected sex. The most common form of the drug is effective for up to 72 hours.