While Melbourne is a very safe and friendly place to live, it is wise to make yourself aware of local safety and security issues as well as the organisations to contact if you need help or information.
In Australia, the Police are friendly and always very approachable.
The Police provide a free service and are committed to protecting the community and maintaining a safe and secure social environment.
If you feel unsafe or threatened at any time, have anything stolen or are assaulted, you can contact the Police for help and to report the incident.
Should you prefer, you can ask someone you know and trust to contact the Police on your behalf. If you experience language difficulties when speaking with the Police, they will provide someone, free of charge, who speaks your language.
All Victoria Police wear a blue uniform (either a jumper or a patrol jacket) and carry a Victoria Police badge.
In an emergency
In an emergency, where there has been an assault, a robbery, burglary or a car accident involving injuries, you can contact the Police, Fire Brigade and ambulance by calling 000.
The operator will ask for your name and address and other details of the emergency situation. This call is free of charge but should be used only in an emergency.
For non-urgent advice or information
If you require non-urgent advice or information or need to report a non-urgent matter, like lost property, you should attend or call the local Police Station. Contact details for your local Police Station can be found at the Victoria Police website.
For all on-campus security emergencies, call Swinburne Security on 9214 3333 (all campuses).
- Swinburne Security provides a 24-hour on-campus service.
- The Swinburne Security office is located at 1 Alfred Street, Hawthorn (behind Swinburne International, near the Glenferrie train station).
The Swinburne Emergency Management website features information about what to do in different emergency situations (e.g. dangerous or threatening encounters, medical emergencies, fire emergencies).
Looking after your belongings
- Do not leave your belongings unattended in the library, in public places or in the open trunk/boot of a car or taxi.
- Make a list of your possessions (including make, model and serial numbers) for reference and ideally keep photographic records of valuables.
- Consider insuring your possessions against loss or theft.
- If you have a bicycle, always lock it up with a good-quality D-lock by its frame and wheel to a fixed object.
- Always lock your car when you are not using it.
- Try not to use a computer case when carrying a laptop; carry it in a less obvious bag. Back up your work and keep it separate from your laptop.
- Avoid displaying expensive items such as mp3 players and mobile phones in busy public places.
- Check to see that your windows and doors are in good condition and have secure locks - and make sure that they are locked when you go out.
- Never leave cash or credit cards lying around.
- Carry your bag close to you with the clasp facing inwards or strap over your shoulder. If someone grabs your bag, let it go – your safety is more important.
Safety at home
- You can safely drink Melbourne tap water – it is one of the purest supplies in the world.
- Lock all outside doors and deadlock windows before you go out. If you live in a shared house, don’t assume there is someone else in who will make it secure when you go out.
- If you are going away, tell someone you trust where you are going and when you will be back.
- Don’t leave spare keys outside or in a garage or shed. Keep house and car keys separate.
- Whenever you go out, turn off gas and electrical appliances, such as the cooker, television and iron (not the refrigerator).
- Make sure that smoke alarms are installed and working in your accommodation. Replace batteries when needed.
- Buy a fire blanket and locate it where it can be easily reached in an emergency. Near the kitchen is ideal as most fires start in the kitchen.
- Create a fire escape plan for your home and display the plan in a central area. Keep a key in the inside deadbolt to ensure you can leave quickly.
- Take care in the kitchen and never leave cooking unattended. Turn pot handles inwards.
- Heat your home safely. Place heaters at least one metre from flammable items such as curtains, bedding and furniture.
- Never smoke in bed.
- For more information about fire safety in the home, please visit the Metropolitan Fire Brigade website.
Safety on the streets
- When you first move into your accommodation, find suitable and safe routes to train stations, shops and your local police station. Try to find routes that are well lit and busy.
- Walk on the pavement. When crossing the road, remember that vehicles drive on the left in Australia so they will be coming towards you from the right.
- If you are returning home late at night, walk in a group or use public transport. Avoid putting yourself at risk by taking shortcuts, for example, through dark alleyways or parks.
- Don’t carry large amounts of cash with you when you are out.
- Memorise your PIN (personal identification number) to access your money at an ATM (automatic teller machine). Never write down your PIN or give it to anyone else.
- Be aware of others around you at an ATM and try not to use them at night or in poorly lit areas. When you use an ATM, go with a friend and leave as soon as you have your money.
- Avoid confrontation – it is better and safer to walk away if you are being provoked.
- If you feel you are being followed, cross the street, and if you are still worried, move as quickly as possible to a public area (such as a restaurant) and then telephone for help.
- At night, walk in pairs in well-lit areas and on busier streets, not dark alleyways and side-streets. Use the Swinburne Night Bus to get to a nearby carpark or public transport.
- Have your keys ready well before you reach the door of your car or house.
Using public transport
Melbourne's public transport system is relatively inexpensive and convenient to use.
To travel on the trams, buses and trains that make up the system you need to carry a current, validated ticket - a Myki.
- If travelling by bus or tram, try not to wait alone at the bus or tram stops. Arrange for others to meet you at your home stop if you are returning late and have a long way to walk home.
- If you are travelling by train at night, do not sit in an empty carriage. Try to sit near groups of people in a well-lit area.
- Check the time of the last train, bus or tram home to avoid being stranded at night.
- Avoid walking alone after getting off public transport at night. If you can, walk close to a group of people or arrange for someone to meet you.
- When travelling on public transport, keep your bags close to you.
- For further information about the public transport system, go to the Public Transport Victoria website.
Safety at the beach
- Never run, jump or dive into shallow water.
- Always swim at a beach patrolled by lifesavers. You are putting your life in danger if you swim at unpatrolled beaches.
- Always swim between the red and yellow flags. They mark the safest areas for swimming.
- Always swim or surf under supervision or with a friend so you have someone looking out for your safety.
- Never swim under the influence of alcohol or drugs – and do not swim at night.
- Wear 15+ sun-screen, a long-sleeved shirt and broad-brimmed hat for protection against the damaging effects of the sun.
- Avoid touching any sea creature – or any native animal – you might encounter, even if they look harmless.
- Do not swim in heavy clothes such as jeans which can become water logged. In Australia you can buy long sleeved swimming vests and long board shorts.
Driving in Australia
As an international student you must make sure you fulfil the legal requirements and be aware of the correct procedures before you drive.
- If you wish to drive in Australia, you must hold a current, valid driving licence.
- Carry your driving licence with you at all times when driving.
- In Australia, all vehicles travel on the left side of the road.
- The driver of the vehicle is not permitted to use a hand-held mobile telephone whilst driving.
- All occupants of a vehicle must wear seatbelts at all times, as required by Australian laws.
- Travel no faster than the signed maximum speed limit.
- Do not drink alcohol before or whilst driving. Australia has strict law on drink-driving and Police actively enforce them.
- Pedestrians have right of way when on pedestrian crossings (also known as zebra crossings as they are marked black and white across the road).
- Before you set off on a long journey, plan your route, check your tyres and fuel, and oil levels. Ensure that your spare tyre is inflated in case you have a puncture.
- If you are borrowing a friend's car, ensure that you are covered by their insurance. Or, if you are renting a car, take out the appropriate insurance in case of an accident.