Water Safety - Living in Australia


Swimming is a popular pastime in Australia but it can be dangerous so follow these tips and stay safe.

Always read signs before entering water.

Swim between red and yellow flags at beaches patrolled by lifeguards.

Swim with a friend and never swim at a closed beach.

If you get caught in a strong current swim diagonally across and not against it.

If you need help stay calm and stick up your hand.

Never jump into water when you don't know how deep it is.

Always obey signs at lakes and rivers and consider swimming lessons that might save you or your family's life.


Australia is generally a safe country to live and study but it is still important to use common sense to protect yourself and your belongings, particularly when you first arrive and are still adjusting to your new city.


As an international student, it can be challenging to know who to contact in an emergency. The following are some external emergency support services:

Life-threatening emergencies

Dial 000 for Police, Fire or Ambulance assistance from any landline or mobile. This number is free to call. Do not dial this number if the situation is not an emergency. For property damage or theft, ring 131 444.

Medical assistance

It is important you learn where hospitals and medical centres are located, in case you require medical assistance. Look in the Yellow Pages under Medical Practitioners for a doctor close to your house. Bupa members can access Blua, a 24/7 virtual doctors service with 100% of costs covered for Bupa International members.

If you require emergency medical assistance, all public hospitals have a 24-hour Casualty and Emergency department. However, expect long waits unless it is an urgent emergency. A full listing of all public and private hospitals in Australia is available at MyHospitals.

Mental health support

Lifeline’s phone service 131 114 provides free, crisis and suicide prevention and mental health support 24 hours a day, every day of the week.


Australia is, by world standards, relatively safe, however, incidents do happen.

Here are some important safety tips to help you avoid dangerous situations:

While Australia is generally a safe place to live, it is still important that you take precautions to reduce the chance of incidents occurring.

  • Whenever possible, travel in groups. Risk is created by travelling alone.
  • Keep valuables such as mobile phones and laptops out of sight. Stay aware of your surroundings when travelling on public transport, especially at night.
  • Outside of peak times and at night, travel in the front carriage of the train with the driver or sit in the guard’s compartment. Where possible do not travel in empty carriages.
  • Check Public Transport timetables in advance. Avoid long waits on platforms and around Public Transport hubs. If you do have a long wait, stay in well-lit areas or near open shops.
  • Walk in well-lit areas even if it means your trip is longer.
  • Avoid shortcuts through dark isolated areas.
  • If you feel threatened in any way while walking on the street, go to a shop or a house with its light on (if at night) and ask for the police to be contacted.
  • Don’t carry large amounts of money with you. You can access money at ATMs or pay via EFTPOS.

Australia has many beautiful beaches and waterways, but it is important to take care when swimming, as our beaches can pose potential risks to inexperienced beachgoers. These risks include:

  • Size and strength of our surf
  • Rips and strong currents
  • Dangerous marine animals

Main beaches are usually patrolled by volunteer lifesavers and the red and yellow flags mark the safest area for swimming. If you visit our beaches, please remember:

Find the red and yellow flags and swim between them.

Look at, understand and obey the safety signs - they help you identify potential dangers and daily conditions at the beach.

Ask a surf lifesaver for advice before you enter the water.

Get a friend to swim with you. You should never swim alone, and parents should always supervise their children.

Stick your hand up for help, stay calm and call for help if you get into trouble. Float with a current or rip - don't try and swim against it.

Learn more about beach safety in Australia.

The Australian sun can be very hot and may be stronger than what you are used to in your home country. Australia has the highest rate of skin cancer in the world. The key to preventing skin cancer is to protect your skin from the sun by practising sun-safe behaviours.

There are six simple steps you can follow to reduce your risk of skin cancer and protect your skin:

  1. Minimise your time in the sun between 10am and 3pm
  2. Seek shade
  3. Wear suitable clothing that provides good sun protection
  4. Choose a broad brim, legionnaire-style or bucket-style hat that will protect your face, neck and ears
  5. Wear UV protective sunglasses
  6. Apply SPF 50+ broad spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen 20 minutes before you go out into the sun and regularly reapply

Australia has many extraordinary and beautiful places to explore. Some tips to consider when venturing into the bush or outback:

  • Travel with other people
  • Make sure someone knows where you are at all times
  • Stay on the road or a walking track
  • If you go for a swim in a river or a lake, never dive in – rather, enter the water yourself gradually
  • Do not touch or feed wild animals – they are not used to close contact with humans and may hurt you.