Further information


The Centre for English Language Teaching wishes to acknowledge its debt to English Australia for the text in this section, which has been taken from its flyer: Staying Safe in Western Australia: information for international students.

By world standards, Australia is a safe country. However, it is still important for you to know about local conditions.

We hope this information will help you to stay safe while you are in Australia. One useful rule is “Don’t do what you would not do in your country.”

Getting around safely

Traffic in Australia drives on the left hand side of the road, so remember to look both ways when crossing the street.

Walk safely

  • Walk on the left hand side of the footpath
  • Look right, then left when crossing the road
  • Don’t carry a lot of cash
  • At night, don’t walk alone and don’t walk in dark places
  • Look around you before using an ATM and cover your hand so your PIN can’t be seen by someone else or photographed by a camera hidden on the ATM.

Cycle safely

Australian law says you must wear a helmet when you are riding a bicycle or motorcycle

We recommend that you:

  • ride on the road, not on the footpath
  • ride on the same side of the road as the traffic, that is on the left hand side
  • Wear light coloured clothes and use a head and a tail light at night
  • Lock your bicycle to a fence or post with a strong, secure chain

Swim safely

When you are at the beach always swim between the flags. There are sometimes strong currents, which may take you away from shore. Red and yellow flags show that a lifeguard is on duty.

  • Never swim on your own
  • Don’t swim if you have been drinking alcohol or taking drugs
  • If you are in trouble in the water, wave your arms and shout for help

Party safely

When you are going out, tell someone where you are going. Enjoy yourself, but try to be aware of yourself and others around you.

  • It is illegal to have, take or sell drugs such as marijuana, E (ecstasy) cocaine, speed, ice, LSD for example. There are serious punishments including fines, gaol and deportation from Australia.
  • Beware of drink spiking, especially if you are a woman. Do not leave your drink unattended. If you think someone might have put something into your drink, leave it undrunk.
  • If you are out drinking with your friends and have a car, choose one person who will not drink and who will be the designated driver.
  • Bar staff must not serve alcohol to people under 18 years of age. If you look under 18, take your passport to prove you are the legal age. Take care not to lose your passport.
  • In Australia, it’s illegal to smoke indoors in public buildings, including bars, pubs, clubs and restaurants.

Date safely

When you have a relationship with someone from another country or culture, things can be quite different. Rules of personal contact can be different. Shaking hands is normal in most cultures.

Kissing and embracing are not appropriate for people you don’t know well. In Australia, men do not usually make affectionate physical contact with each other in public.

Be sensitive to whether someone wants to have a relationship with you. In Australia, ‘No’ means ‘No’ whether it is about a relationship or sex.

If you are being bullied to have a relationship or sex, tell a friend, or your teacher, or talk to our Student Adviser. If you are sexually assaulted go to the police. Australian police are helpful. Mrs Lai is sympathetic and will help you talk to the police.

Australian law does not allow discrimination against gays and lesbians, but some people may still be aggressive. Be careful if you are not in a gay-friendly environment.

Safeguarding your property

Make sure that your accommodation has good security. The doors and windows should be lockable. Insure your valuable personal possessions against theft. If possible, engrave your electronic equipment with an identification mark.

Treat any request for a loan of money with great caution, even a request from a fellow student. If a stranger approaches you and offers accommodation in exchange for money, ask them for their name and telephone number and report them to the Student Adviser. Do not give anyone a loan of money. If you are tempted to do so, discuss this with the Student Adviser first. Do not give a stranger any money even if they say they work for or represent UWA.