The recent murder of French student Sophie Collombet in Brisbane has placed Australia under the spotlight in terms of safety, particularly of foreigners. The following are some general reminders to assist visitors to help them have a safe and happy time in Australia.
Australia is a safe place, but you must still pay attention
Many foreigners describe a great sense of independence and freedom when they arrive in Australia. This might be because Australia is a popular distant location where many young foreigners have their first real time away from home, or it might be because many migrants come from countries that have more restrictive policies. This sense of freedom is an excellent thing, but it can cause a false sense of security. Visitors should remember that it only takes one damaged person to inflict violence so pay attention to your surroundings and be aware of who is around you and their behaviour.
Visitors are not aware of dangerous areas and safety zones
The difference between a dangerous area and safe area can be a street or the exit of a station. Visitors who are not aware of these boundaries can find themselves in uncomfortable situations. Trains in Sydney have “guard carriages” that are indicated with a blue light – however this is not a very well-advertised safety procedure. Visitors in foreign countries generally understand to stay where people are. This is the kind of key tip that can slip the mind of a visitor.
Australians in cities are individualistic and do not have a strong sense of community
Australians have been rated as one of the most ‘individualistic’ nationalities. This does not mean they are not caring, however it does mean that they’re less likely to decipher ambiguous situations and to help unless explicitly asked. Australians have a lot of trust in the police force (as opposed to other countries that have high level of skepticism towards police), so they expect them to do this job.
Visitors spend more time with other visitors, less time with locals
Visitors come with minimal to no family or friends. They tend to meet a lot of new people, which is ultimately a major perk of travelling. These new people tend to be other visitors who have little ties to the country, and it can be quite hard to make local friends in comparison. This is mostly no problem but it does mean that visitors are not privy to the ‘obvious’ knowledge that locals have. This can make them unaware of the difference between a boisterous drunk person and an about-to-get-violent drunk person, or to understand other cultural nuances that have room for interpretation.
The overwhelming majority of visitors to Australia leave without ever getting in harm’s way. But sometimes tragedy strikes – our thoughts and prayers are with Sophie Collombet, her family and her friends.