When you are out and about it is important to be alert and aware of your personal safety.
- Be alert to your surroundings and the people around you, especially if you are alone or it is dark.
- Whenever possible, travel with a friend or as part of a group.
- Stay in well-lit areas as much as possible.
- Walk confidently and at a steady pace.
- Make eye contact with people when walking - let them know that you have noticed their presence.
- Do not respond to conversation from strangers on the street or in a car - continue walking.
- Be aware of your surroundings, and avoid using personal stereos or radios - you might not hear trouble approaching.
- Always keep your briefcase or bag in view and close to your body.
- Be discrete with your cash or mobile phones.
- When going to your car or home, have your keys in your hand and easily accessible.
- Consider carrying a personal attack alarm.
- If you do not have a mobile phone, make sure that you have a phone card or change to make a phone call, but remember - emergency 000 calls are free of charge.
(Source: Australian Federal Police)
If you are going out at night remember to:
- Think ahead - consider how you are going to get home - such as pre-booking a taxi or arranging transport with a friend or family member.
- Never hitch-hike.
- Make sure that you stay with your group and that someone knows where you are at all times.
- Make sure you have enough money to get home or to phone.
- Keep away from trouble - if you see any trouble or suspect that it might be about to start - move away from the scene if you can. The best thing you can do is to alert the police and keep away.
- Walk purposely and try to appear confident. Be wary of casual requests from strangers, like someone asking for a cigarette or change - they could have ulterior motives.
- Try not to carry your wallet in your back trouser pocket where it is vulnerable and in clear view.
- If you are socialising in a public place never leave your drink unattended. Read about Drink Spiking below.
Australian law makes it an offence to sell or supply tobacco products to a person under the age of 18 years. It is illegal for anyone under 18 to purchase tobacco products. There are also a number of laws regulating and restricting the advertising, promotion and packaging of tobacco products. Regulations have been introduced to restrict smoking in public areas such as shopping centres, hotels, restaurants and dining areas, and in some workplaces. See an overview of smoking bans in Australia.
Each State and Territory has laws governing the manufacture, possession, distribution and use of drugs, both legal and illegal. Drug laws in Australia distinguish between those who use drugs and those who supply or traffic drugs. The Federal Customs Act covers the importing of drugs, while each State has laws governing the manufacture, possession, distribution and use of drugs, both legal and illegal.
Australian Police can perform random drug testing on drivers as well as the random breath testing performed to determine blood alcohol levels.
DANGER: Drink Spiking! Whether you are drinking alcohol or not, keep your drink close to you and watch it at all times. Drink spiking (putting extra alcohol or other drugs into a person’s drink without their knowledge) is an unfortunate risk to people who are out trying to have a good time. Drink spiking can happen to anyone: male or female, young or old whether they are drinking alcohol or not. Never accept an open container of drink if you did not see it being poured and if you suspect you or your friends have had a drink spiked, call 000 immediately to report it and get help.
(Source: Australian Drug Foundation)
Making New Friends
There is no magic trick to making friends. And if you are in a foreign culture it can seem more difficult than usual to find people who you really ‘get along’ with. Here are some tips to help you make new friends and stay safe.
- Be kind to yourself - remember that making friends takes time. If you make the most of social opportunities during your life in Australia, just as you would back home, it will be quicker and easier for you to fit in, make friends and feel at home.
- Remember to be careful. When you meet someone new, be cautious until you get to know the person better and feel you can trust him or her.
- If a stranger starts talking to you, they are probably just being friendly, but be safe. Don’t give them any of your personal details like your full name, your phone number or your address.
- Always arrange to meet people in a public place, especially when you don’t know them well. Meet them at a café or a park, instead of inviting them to your home or going to theirs, until you feel you have built a relationship with them, know more about them and feel comfortable with them.
- If you have any concerns or questions about someone you have met, or want to talk to someone about Australian mannerisms and communication ‘norms’ (widely acceptable behaviour), make an appointment to talk it over with your International Student Services Coordinator.
A person who waves at unknown drivers from the side of the road to request a ride with a driver further along the road is called a Hitch-hiker. Hitchhiking is illegal in Queensland and Victoria. Elsewhere in Australia it is illegal to hitchhike on motorways (where pedestrians are prohibited and where cars are not allowed to stop). Some travel companies promote hitchhiking as an inexpensive means of travelling around Australia. However, many crimes have been committed against innocent hitchhikers including violent personal crimes and abductions. You do not know anything about the person whose car you get into.
Our advice to you is: DON’T HITCHHIKE! It simply is not worth the risk.