Myths & Truths


Answers that Teachers & Parents most often seek:

For the information of Principals, Year Advisors, Board Members and Parents, the following are most likely the questions you have most often asked, and the answers you most often seek. I remain vigilant and transparent on all matters relating to the safety and security of young adults, and on all matters relating to Proper Business Practices and the adherence to pertinent legislation.

Section 1 – Reasons why schools most often choose not to be involved.

Concern: Students attending a formal outside of school premises are not covered by any
insurance in case of any incident.

This is a myth! Events held in proper function establishments are covered by insurances on the highest levels, paid for by the venue. Separate insurance for security is mandatory on top of that.

The school’s policy is not pertinent or necessary when you conduct your formal off school land.

Concern: High School Formals are always fraught with misbehaviour and drunkenness.

Both Truth and Myth: This may be true of some formals in years gone by but the truth is that there are some very tough legislative measures in place that are designed to prevent this sort of occurrence.

I’ve consulted heavily with the State Government departments on matters of the law, legal responsibility, duty of care, security, liquor licensing and other associated issues. What I’ve learned is that there are various types of licenses available to various types of venues. They all have restrictions designed to keep young people safe from the affects of alcohol. Although this area of the law is rather complex, and I’ve covered most of it elsewhere in this blog, I’ve decided that it would be far more to simply ban the service of alcohol completely at all venues where grey areas in the license exist. In these venues even adults, parents and teachers should be forbidden alcohol at formals. Nothing can go wrong then.

At other venues where the law clearly allows the responsible service of alcohol to adults, and no grey area exists, conducting this service with zero tolerance for misbehaviour and EXTRA security is well advised. Do as much as you can not to put yourself in a position of risk.

Concern: There has to be a guaranteed minimum number of Teachers or Parents present at every formal.

Another myth! There is a minimum mandatory requirement imposed by the State for “supervising adults” but that doesn’t mean teachers or parents. In fact such supervision is illegal.

Venues not only cover this as part of every event with their own staff but adding security takes it over the top It is quite alright for to conduct formals, under the law, without any parents or teachers in attendance at all. In fact, this is quite often the case with complete success.

Concern: Individual School Official attending High School Formals must assume total responsibility for the guests while attending the event.

This is a myth! Any attending School Official would have no greater responsibility or duty on the night than any attending guest, student or partner. Venue and security staff actually run the event and control all that transpires at the event without the need to call upon anyone for assistance.

Concern: By a school refusing to take part in arranging a formal, no such formal will take place, therefore, the schools good repute will remain in tact no matter what.

This is one of the most dangerous myths of all! Surveys have shown that 86% of schools that refused involvement have students who will go ahead and hold a formal regardless, AND in most cases will use the school’s name in the process.

The fact that the school does not sanction the event will not prevent it from taking place and if anything goes wrong, will not protect the school if a liability claim transpires OR the media happens to come across a worthy story. YES! That’s right! Even if the school has no knowledge that the formal is taking place, legally it attracts a potential liability if anything at that formal goes wrong.

Where many formals go wrong is simply that students are easy prey for disreputable people in the marketplace who seek to capitalise on their inexperience and produce less than adequately planned and controlled events.

I know of quite a number of firms that rely on school students to buy illegal event packages for their main source of income each season. They include many venues that also market heavily but don’t even possess licenses to hold school events.

Make no mistake! The best way to avoid students travelling down a poor path is to advise them well and supervise their decisions, equipped with the facts and reputable assistance from well established and experienced professionals.

Concern: Events like formals are only really for elite private schools whose students can
afford it.

Myth!: For the last 20 years, I have conducted as many State school events as private schools. In most cases, the ticket price of those events is far less than other items on the list of the average formal guest. Students will pay far less on their ticket price than they will gladly pay for things like suits or dresses, make up, nails & hair, limousines and after parties.

This is often the most important event on their social calendar. Students, if left to book their own function, will more often pay $30 or $50 more per head than you’d think, to attend some other venue that serves them unlimited liquor illegally.

Concern: School students should never be placed under the supervision of those who have not been submitted to the mandatory screening process imposed by the Department of Education and Training under the N.S.W. Child Protection (prohibited employment) act 1998.

Truth: I agree wholeheartedly! That’s why all of my Staff, Management, Masters of Ceremony, Disc Jockeys, Event Managers, Security Personnel, Photographers and all those within our crew likely to attend a formal and interact with students are put through that process as a mandatory requirement of employment with my company.

Section 2 – Most Frequently asked questions by Teachers & Parents:

Q: What’s the difference between a deposit and a bond?

A: A Bond is an amount of money that is supposed to be held in trust by a reputable third party in case of damage, just like on a rented home or commercial shop. If there’s an incident, the venue may apply for part, or all, of that bond to cover damages. A deposit is a down-payment or an advance on the overall amount and should be either refunded, rolled over into another event, or deducted from a final bill on the event. It has nothing whatsoever to do with damage.

If a venue is asking you for a deposit, stating that they’ll refund it AFTER the formal if there’s no damage, watch out! This is a bond disguised as a deposit. If it’s a bond, it has to be lodged with a third party and all sorts of paperwork and procedures are supposed to be taken care of.

If it’s not to cover damage, but instead being used as working capital until the rest of the event is paid for, then paperwork has to state that.

Be wary of any venue asking for more than $2000, or anyone asking for a “Deposit for Damage or a Bond”. This isn’t strictly legal and should be avoided.

Q: If all our students are advised as to the rules for their conduct at the event, how do we
make sure that outside partners are kept in line?

A: All formals should be conducted by pre-sold ticket. A compendium of the rules can, and should, be printed on every event ticket. The tickets should then be distributed well before the event so each ticket holder will be in possession of it before arrival on the day.

Q: What if our school has always had a policy of not supporting formals?

A: That policy was most likely adopted to combat the kinds of issues described about how formals were decades ago. Schools should now review their policy under these newer circumstances. If you look at the list of venues currently working with formal agencies, you will see many of them are traditionally venues that have had the same “no formals” policy for years. They are only participating in these programmes because they are completely convinced that the newer government regulations make the market worth re-entering.

In short – any policy is adopted because it is formed according to the environment at that time. If the environment alters for the better, so should a policy. That’s just sound  business sense.

Q: Are the controversial security procedures suggested here legal AND does my student /
minor have the right to refuse to submit to them?

A: Yes and Yes. The procedures I recommend were in fact written according to the law and many of them were suggested by the State Government itself. There are constant reviews to make sure I keep up to current legislative changes in this regard. It is any ticket-holders right to refuse to submit to any security process conducted at any venue,
but it should be known that entry may be refused under such circumstances as refusal of entry under any grounds is just as much the venue’s civil right as refusal to be checked is the guests.