Not to be a downer, but it's good to be aware of the things that might go wrong on a big night out (or in). Here's some advice on staying ahead of the game and knowing what to do if things get out of hand.
If something goes wrong at a party and you feel upset or worried, try talking to a friend or family member, or someone you can trust.
In any emergency the first thing to do is call 000. 000 is a free call from anywhere in Australia, including mobiles. If your mobile is out of range you can dial 112. Generally speaking it doesn’t have to be an emergency to call 000 - you won't get into trouble for calling for help if it’s not an emergency.
When you call:
- Your call is connected to the Emergency Call Service (ECS)
- ECS will answer, "Emergency - police fire or ambulance?" (If you're on a mobile you'll be asked for the city and state you're in)
- Tell them the service you need
- Your call will be connected to the relevant emergency service
In some types of emergencies, people panic and worry about other issues like getting into trouble with parents or the police. For instance, if someone has overdosed on alcohol or drugs, or you are somewhere where you aren't meant to be.
Remember - ambulance officers do NOT call the police unless someone dies or people feel threatened. If someone needs medical attention you need to focus on that and make sure you get help. Things will only be worse if someone ends up with serious or permanent injuries, or dies.
Alcohol & Drugs
Alcohol and drugs can mess with your judgement and make you make poor decisions that can have consequences ranging from embarrassing to dangerous, especially if you drink .
To avoid drinking so much that you lose control, pace yourself. Take a break between drinks by alternating alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks - even just a glass of water between drinks can help keep you in control. It's also a good idea to watch over your mates and help them out if they need it, or if they've had too much to drink.
If you or your friends have had too much to drink, you need to stop drinking alcohol immediately. If you're looking after a friend who's drunk too much, stay with them and make them comfortable. It's also important to make sure they drink plenty of water.
If you or your friends can't stop vomiting, you need to see a doctor, go to the hospital or call an ambulance on 000 (see "Emergencies", above).
Remember that after a big night there will still be alcohol in your system the next morning - you're not automatically sober once you're awake. Check out our Alcohol page for more information.
If you're thinking about having sex, whether it's for the first time or not, it's important to know about safe sex practices to prevent an unwanted pregnancy or exposure to a sexually transmitted infection.
Remember that you should never force sex on someone. Sex should also never be forced on you or become something you do because of peer pressure, or pressure from your boyfriend or girlfriend. Pressuring someone into having sex and inappropriate touching are sexual assault.
It can be hard to know what to do if you or a friend has been sexually assaulted, you can contact a Centre Against Sexual Assault (CASA) by calling the Sexual Assault Crisis Line on 1800 806 292 to speak to a counsellor/advocate who can help you decide what to do and work with you to help you recover from your experience.
Our Sexual Assault page has more information.
If someone's trying to pick a fight with you, the best thing you can do is walk away.
If you're at a venue or event, tell security or bar staff. If the harassment persists, call the police. It also helps to stick close to other people and avoid wandering off on your own.
You should never hang around to watch a fight because bystanders can get injured too. If you see a fight in a public place, get your friends together and leave.
If you're in a crowded venue, try to get as far away as possible from the fight and clear the way for security staff. If you're too close to the fight, there's a good chance that you could get bumped around a bit while the fight is being broken up.
Drink spiking is when someone sneaks alcohol or drugs into your drink when you're not looking. Spiked drinks can make you feel really drunk or dizzy or delirious all of a sudden. Both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks can be spiked, and it can happen anywhere that drinks are being served.
To spike someone's drink, even as a prank, is a serious crime. Symptoms of being drink spiked can include:
- Suddenly feeling sleepy or dizzy
- Feeling like you're going to faint
- Feeling like you're going to be sick
- Losing consciousness
If you think your drink has been spiked, tell a friend and ask them to stay with you and look after you. If you can't find your friends, tell the bar or security staff, or the police. Don't let strangers look after you - they may take advantage of you in your state.
If you think a mate's drink has been spiked, stay with them and keep an eye on them. If you think things are getting serious, take them to a doctor or a hospital, or call 000 for an ambulance.
Here are some tips to help you avoid drink spiking:
- Don't accept drinks from strangers
- Don't leave your drink unattended
- Cover your drink using either your hand (if you're drinking from a glass) or extra straws if you're drinking from a bottle or can
- Always watch your drinks - buy your own and know what you are drinking
- If you're unsure about your drink, leave it
- If you feel dizzy or sick, ask someone you trust to take you to a safe place
- Keep an eye on your friends - if someone collapses or falls unconscious, call an ambulance immediately - but don't leave them alone
If you think that you have been assaulted or raped, it's important you tell a friend or family member, and go to a doctor, hospital or counselling centre such as CASA as soon as possible. Check out our Sexual Assault page for more information.
Dealing with the Police
Whether you're out for the night or having a house party, there's an outside chance that you might end up having to deal with the police.
Whether it's because you or a friend got into a fight, you had an accident or the neighbours are complaining about the noise, when interacting with the police, it's important to know your rights and responsibilities.
Check out our Dealing with the Police page for more information.
One of the more annoying side effects of a big night out is losing stuff or leaving stuff behind. If you do lose stuff, don't call 000 - it doesn't count as an an emergency, no matter how stressed it might make you.
If you lose your wallet (or it gets stolen) you should cancel your bank and credit cards (most banks provide a 24-hour service for reporting lost or stolen credit cards) and report the loss to the police, especially if you've lost your ID.
If you lose your phone, contact your service provider - you may need to put a block on your phone to stop other people using it. You may also need to report the theft to police if you want to claim it on insurance.
DrugInfo - Safe Partying for All Ages
Links to info to help you to have fun in a safe, legal and responsible way.
Teen Drinking Law
Information for both Parents & Adults and Young people about laws relating the alcohol consumption.
Say When has lots of simple tools for staying in control of your drinking, including a drink check chart, a drink calculator and tools to monitor your own drinking profile.
Reach Out! - Drink spiking
Explains what drink spiking is, what kinds of drugs are used, how to avoid drink spiking and what to do if your drink has been spiked.
DrugInfo - Drink spiking
Information about drink spiking, how to avoid it, what kind of drugs are used, how you know if your drink has been spiked and the legalities of drink spiking.
Reach Out! - What to do in an emergency
Excellent information describing what to do in an emergency situation, including drug overdoses, self-harm, and if someone goes missing.
Victoria Police - Emergency assistance
Describes the emergency assistance service. Outlines what happens when you call 000, what happens when you're connected to Victoria Police, what if you need more than one emergency service, and when not to call 000.
Better Health Channel - First aid
Links to a range of first aid topics including bites and stings.
Victoria Legal Aid - Police Powers and your rights
A general guide to help you when you deal with the police. It includes specific information for people under the age of 17 (this booklet is also published in Arabic, Chinese, Croatian, Macedonian, Serbian, Turkish and Vietnamese).