Although CISaustralia runs programs in locations that are considered safe as defined by the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, incidents may occur. Below you will find useful information about behaviours that you should avoid to keep yourself safer and strategies that can further help you reduce the likelihood of incidents.
Safety is ultimately the responsibility of each individual student and you should actively develop your own personal safety strategies.
Conditions that contribute to risk (whether at home or overseas) include:
Factors placing students at possible additional risk while overseas include:
You have most likely been using a variety of strategies to avoid potential higher levels of risk while living in Australia; a lot are common sense and will be useful overseas as well. These might include:
Strategies for reducing risk while overseas include suggestions such as:
If you are a victim of an incident or assault, reporting this to the host university / volunteer project / internship emergency contact (or on-site / in-country contact) is important because:
Australians sometimes get into trouble overseas as a direct result of partying / drinking too hard and forgetting about simple safety precautions. Parties and festivals, like Full Moon Parties in Koh Phangan, Thailand and Oktoberfest in Germany, can be fun experiences but drinking too much or taking drugs can put you in difficult and often dangerous situations far from home. Check out our top ten tips and make sure your trip is memorable for all the right reasons.
1. Pre-party planning
Decide where and when you are going and what your transport options are, especially if you don’t know the city yet. If you are catching public transport home, ask what time the last service runs. Never use taxis, buses, trains or boats that are overcrowded or look unsafe and try to avoid having to travel in ferries and speedboats after dark.
2. Know your alcohol limits
When you are drunk your judgment is affected, and you are more likely to take risks and make poor decisions. At best, your hangover will mean you waste a valuable day of your holiday inside with the lights out. At worst, you could be injured, robbed, sexually assaulted or arrested. Insurance policies may not provide cover for injuries or losses sustained under the influence. Like at home, never drive or swim if you have been drinking.
3. Beware of drink spiking
Never accept drinks from strangers or leave your drink unattended. If you’re unsure if a drink is safe, leave it – it’s not worth the risk. If you feel dizzy or sick, tell your friends and ask someone you trust and know well to take you to a safe place. Remember to keep an eye on your friends at all times. If a friend collapses, seek medical care immediately and don’t leave them alone.
Alcoholic drinks can be mixed with harmful substances, which can cause serious illness, blindness, brain injury or death. If you suspect that you or a friend may have been poisoned, you need to act quickly and get urgent medical attention.
4. Don’t be a mug – don’t use drugs
Importing, buying, carrying or taking drugs incurs serious penalties in most countries, including the death penalty, which apply equally to foreigners. Each year Australian travellers are arrested overseas on drug charges, and our government is limited in what they can do to help. Don’t become another Aussie wasting years of their life in a foreign prison because of one bad decision.
Even if you don’t get caught, taking drugs will reduce your ability to make considered decisions and will make you more likely to become a victim of violence, robbery or sexual assault.
5. Take care of your mates (it’s an Aussie thing)
Australians can get into difficulty after becoming separated from their friends. Don’t leave your mates alone – keep in regular contact and be aware of where people in your group are. Make sure you have your friends’ mobile numbers and organise a time and place to meet in case you get separated. This will also be handy if your phone battery runs out or there is no coverage where you are. Make sure everyone in your group knows the hotel name, phone number and address.
Remember, it could be dangerous to go home alone or with someone you have just met, particularly if you are unfamiliar with your surroundings.
6. Venue safety
Be aware that party venues overseas might not have the same safety standards you are accustomed to. If you are concerned that a venue is becoming too crowded, it would be wise to move on. Nightclub fires, balcony collapses and crowd crushes can occur. Taking simple steps such as checking the nearest exit or thinking of an alternate way out can be a smart move.
7. Look after your gear
Avoid carrying your passport, large amounts of cash, multiple credit cards or other valuables to parties and clubs. Ensure these valuables are safely secured at your accommodation before going out for the night. There’s nothing worse than filling in police reports and organising a new passport while your mates are out having fun.
Mobile phones are incredibly useful, but they’re no good if they’re lost, stolen or fall in the pool. It makes sense to write down some key numbers for friends and family and keep them with your passport.
8. Don’t get ripped off
Before entering or ordering in a bar, restaurant or other establishment, check the price list. If you don’t, you may find yourself with an unexpectedly large bill which you might be forced to pay under duress before you can leave. Be aware that in some bars there is strong coercion to buy drinks for others, such as bar girls, and these drinks are usually very expensive. A good practice in unfamiliar establishments is to pay for your drinks upfront.
9. No fighting
The only Aussies fighting overseas should be boxers wearing the green and gold. For everyone else, it just isn’t on. If someone tries to start a fight with you, avoid retaliating and walk away. Overseas, the laws and penalties for physical altercations, even between friends, can be much harsher than in Australia.
10. Stay in touch
Call, text, Skype or email family and friends at home regularly and let them know where you are. Facebook and other social media updates are a good way to stay in touch. Remember, friends and family will worry if they haven’t heard from you, so drop them a line to let them know what a great time you’re having. Staying in regular contact also means that it will be easier to find you in an emergency.
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