Close up of a DJ's hand during the 2015 Autonomy Day party on-campus

Partying safely at Autonomy Day

It’s that time of year again, when the weather is just about to get that little bit warmer, you’ve cruised past the halfway point of the year, and most importantly you’re about to celebrate the hell out of Autonomy. For those new students not in the know, or those more seasoned students who just didn’t really ask questions about why campus seems to have a buzz at the beginning of August, Autonomy Day celebrates the University of Newcastle finally cutting ties with those pesky big smoke kids at UNSW and it culminates in a party at Bar on the Hill. It’s all about Newy pride, after all. This is most definitely something to celebrate, but the last thing you want is to get yourself into some serious trouble. Believe it or not, there is many a way to party safely without being what Courtney Barnett would call a Debbie Downer. So whether you wanna go out, or wanna stay home, here are some tips on how to party safely at Autonomy Day.

Why is it so important for students to party safely?

It’s incredibly important to remember that partying safely doesn’t mean being the fun police. It is, however, about looking after your mates and yourself! Making lots of new friends and having a fun social life are important aspects of the student experience, but it’s important to make sure that partying doesn’t cross the line into becoming excessive or unsafe – that’s when it can have a negative effect on our studies, friendships and well-being. As Mufasa says, it’s really all about the delicate balance – Column A and Column B. Moderation and self-care are important as well.

Think of this article not as the fun police, but as more helping you to maximise fun and minimise illness. Passing out, feeling sick, hangovers, regret and hospital visits are definitely not fun for anyone involved, so read on for some top tips on how to have fun at Auto Day while staying safe.

Why is it so important to look after your mates?

This is probably the most important thing to remember. Always, always, always be the Neville Longbottom in the scenario! But instead of winning the House Cup, you might just save someone’s life. In a party setting, it’s extra important to be aware of the consequences of our behaviour – by looking out for our mates, we can support one another to create a safe, fun environment.

But if you see bad behaviour, aim to call it out if it is safe to do so – otherwise, you can easily get help from Event Staff or Security. These are the go-to people in case of emergencies. You can find Event Staff throughout the event in shirts or jackets with ‘Event Staff’ written on them – they’re super approachable so don’t be afraid to go up to them! You can also go to the Campus Care team if you’re concerned about anything concerning, inappropriate, or threatening – just make sure that any emergencies are taken straight to the Event Staff.

What are some tips for partying safely?

Go ahead! But make sure to do so in a sensible, safe way. Look, drinking games are all, well – fun and games, but things can get out of hand pretty darn quickly. Pace yourself, don’t be afraid to say no, listen to that tiny part in your brain that says enough is most definitely, enough. Also WATER! Your body needs it! All day every day, but especially when you’re partying!

Another important tip is to plan a safe, easy way to get home, like making sure you’ve got money for an Uber or taxi, or having a designated driver who stays sober. 

Also keep in mind that RSA requirements will be in place, and there are alcohol-free zones around the event, so you can have a great time whether you plan to drink or not!

It’s also super important to always check for consent before engaging in any sexual activity, including kissing and physical touch. If at all in doubt, check out the #MakeNoDoubt NSW campaign to make sure you get it right.

A side note

Taking any illegal substance is, well, illegal for one, and can be ridiculously dangerous. This is especially if you’re deciding to mix a whole bunch of things together to go hard or go home. Again, check yourself before you (seriously) wreck yourself.

If you have taken an illegal substance, it is extremely important that you tell paramedics or doctors what you have taken so that they can provide appropriate medical aid.  Police are not involved in a drug-related medical emergency unless paramedics feel threatened, someone has died, or other non-drug related crimes have occurred. In any case, it is not worth withholding vital, possibly life-saving information for fear of getting in trouble. Be upfront and honest.

Looking after someone who you suspect may have overdosed

There are no ifs or buts about this type of scenario. Stay with them, tell security or event staff immediately, and call the ambulance.

Overall tips for first timers to Autonomy Day

Pace yourself. You’re not impressing anyone, seriously. There’s a designated Chill Out Zone next to the Student Services Buildings, near Bar On The Hill. It’ll be a quiet area for if you need a break, and will have heaps of food trucks, music, hammocks and coffee.

Look after your mates. Look after yourself. Have a good time but remember this isn’t your Year 12 after party. You’re not a tween anymore kid, stay safe, and party safely. It’s as simple as that.

Alcohol & Drug Information Service (ADIS)     1800 250 015

24hr service providing education, information, referral, crisis counselling and support about legal and illegal drugs.

National Sexual Assault & Domestic Violence Service  1800 737 732

24hr counselling, information & support for those who have experienced or are supporting someone who has experienced sexual assault and/or relationship violence.

Campus Care, University of Newcastle 4921 8600

Available business hours Mon-Fri, provides information for students concerned about concerning, inappropriate or threatening behaviour.

IMAGE: Melissa Askew

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