Australia is the only continent covered by one country, and it is famous for the attractions of its large cities such as Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, and Perth. There will be many travel opportunities in this massive continent — head to the cities for a mix of cultures like no other or to its outback, where you can expect sunny beaches and kangaroos in the desert. To add to this, living in Australia also means going to many fun social gatherings under the sun (known locally as “slipping a shrimp on the barbie”) and taking advantage of its lively entertainment scene.
In relation to food, aside from their beloved vegemite, Australia offers a deep array of options to satisfy all sorts of palates. From the best in barbeques, to sweet lamingtons, meat pies to grilled kangaroo — you’re in for a range of delicacies in the land of the Aussies.
International students stand to experience all of the above and have the time of their lives. First, however, let’s answer the one question every international student (and their parents) have in mind: how safe is Australia?
With angry kangaroos attacking tourists, spiders with fearsome reputations, and baby-eating dingos, it can feel as if it’s a completely different and scary world. You can, however, rest assured that despite these reports, you will in most probability be safe and sound in the land down “undah” … if you play by the rules. Here’s a list of what you need to know as well as the do’s and don’ts to keep you safe in Australia:
Public transport is reliable and widely used in Australia. Security officers and guards help implement maximum safety. In addition, good lighting and security cameras are helpful additions when walking in dark or secluded places. Still, the smart thing to do is to always be cautious as you would in any country.
If you drive, always park in well-lit car parks. That’s a no brainer. When leaving your institution at night, make sure you’re not alone and take paths that are brightly lit and frequently used by other people.
Australia is a relatively safe country compared to most other nations. It has one of the lowest homicide rates in the world. The Australian Government is doing all it can to address the challenges faced by some international students.
Given the quality of life and five of its major cities – Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane and Adelaide making it to the most liveable places in the world*, Australia attracts many students from all over the world for pursuing their higher education. Its multicultural environment is friendly and safe for the students coming from outside the country. Having said that, it is important to take some precautions to remain on the safer side.
Your university security service can help
Almost all campuses in Australia have a special body to ensure the safety of their international students. So, as the first step, check if your school offers one and keep the security officer’s number saved in your phone.
Various universities and schools also offer services like shuttles and security escorts to drop you to your accommodation or stations after hours. Some go a step further and have their own mobile apps with a direct line for students to get in touch with the security.
If, at any point of time, you feel unsafe in and around your campus or accommodation, don’t hesitate to get in touch with your college authorities.
Here we list some very important safety tips to help you avoid any dangerous situations. You will find these tips helpful not only during your studies in Australia but anywhere around the world.
Know what to do in an emergency
If there is an emergency, simply dial 000. This number can be used to contact ambulance, fire and police services — the operator will connect you to the most appropriate service. It’s important that you only dial this number in the case of a real emergency. If you have an enquiry or a minor complaint (your phone has been stolen, for example), call or visit your local police station instead.
Make use of security services at your university
Most institutions have some form of security on campus to ensure the safety of students and staff. It is a good idea to familiarise yourself with the security services on offer, especially if you spend a lot of time at the institution after hours. At the very least, find out the phone number for campus security and save it to your phone. Some institutions even offer mobile apps that provide a direct line for students to contact security. Do not hesitate to call the security office if you feel unsafe or witness an incident. Security services may include security escorts to accompany you around the campus after hours, access to well-lit safety paths, security points with emergency telephones and shuttle bus services to drop you off at public transport stations and accommodation.
Stay safe outdoors
With so many beautiful natural landscapes — from beaches to the bush and the outback — Australia’s natural environment is well worth exploring. To ensure you have a good time, but still stay safe, it’s important to be aware of the dangers first:
- Only swim at beaches patrolled by surf life savers, and only swim in patrolled areas marked by red and yellow flags. If you need help, stay calm and wave your arm to attract the attention of a life saver.
- Before entering rivers, lakes or the ocean, take note of any warning signs and beware of hidden obstacles (such as a tree branch under the water), strong currents and dangerous animals such as jellyfish, sharks or crocodiles.
- If you plan on going hiking or bushwalking, ensure you let someone know where you are going and when you plan to return and take the correct equipment. You should also research the area you are travelling to and check whether there are dangerous conditions expected, such as potential fires or slippery tracks.
- It is a good idea to talk to a park ranger, surf life saver or a member of staff at a visitor information centre before you begin exploring to get some expert advice — as well as some great sightseeing tips.
Be smart on the street
Whenever you leave home, it’s important to be aware of your surroundings and any potential dangers:
- Take opportunities to explore your new town or city with your friends during the day, and make an effort to learn your way around. Take note of the locations of public transport stations, taxi ranks, visitor information centres and police stations.
- Beware of cars and public transport, and only cross the road at designated pedestrian crossings and traffic lights.
- To avoid theft, keep an eye on your belongings — ensure you keep any bags close to your body and closed, place valuables under the seat or in the boot of your car and do not leave your belongings unattended (such as stepping away from your laptop in the campus library).
- Try to avoid being out alone at night, especially in an unfamiliar environment. If it is unavoidable, be sure to keep a mobile phone with you, stay in busy well-lit areas and avoid taking short cuts through secluded areas, such as alleys or parks. If you are approached by an undesirable character or feel unsafe, walk away as quickly as possible to a crowded area and phone for help if necessary.
- Australian laws are strictly enforced by police officers and may differ between states and territories, so take the time to learn some Australian laws to avoid getting yourself into trouble. For example, did you know that in most states it is illegal to drink alcohol in public places outside of a licensed venue? If you plan to drive, it is also important to learn the road rules of the state or territory in which you live.