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Tips: How not to be attacked in Australia

Last updated on: May 28, 2009 13:42 IST
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We invited Get Ahead readers to share tips on How not to be attacked in Australia. Here we present responses from readers who studied in Australia.

Ramesh Babu

I have been living in Melbourne for the last six years and I cannot recollect an instance where I had a problem in general.

Basic things would help you out in this situation:

  • Walking away from a dispute or a brawl doesn't make you a coward but it makes you sensible
  • Don't take anything personally and just walk away if you have any situation and just be calm
  • Stay away from people who indulge in binge drinking
  • Always call 000 if you think there is emergency
  • Try to use buses when you travel late in the night they are safer than trains

    I know you cannot avoid all situations but this may help to some extent.


    Melbourne has seen a major jump in the street violence in past couple of years especially at night. I came here as a student and have been living in Melbourne from past six years now.

    Most culprits are very young (teenagers) as they know they can get away with the relaxed laws against minors and these attacks usually involve alcohol and/or drugs.

    Here are some tips according to my experience could help one in avoiding these type of attacks:

    1. After 7 pm, always travel in the first compartment of the train.
    2. When walking to work or home, make sure you turn off your ipod as you can easily get distracted.
    3. Stay alert and keep an eye if someone is walking behind you.
    4. If you see a group of guys walking towards you, change the side of the road or direction.
    5. Never react to any racial comment you hear.
    6. Never walk and talk on the phone at the same time on a lonely road.
    7. Make sure you have Emergency number '000' on speed dial.
    8. Never feel shy to seek help and shout incase you feel any kind of danger.
    9. Try not to work on night shifts as many students work late night especially in Indian restaurants.
    10. Always take a road that is well lit and have some traffic even if it's not shortest way home.
    11. If you see or experience any attack, make sure you lodge a police complaint as most of these incidents never get reported.


    These are just personal views and not aimed at hurting anyone's sentiments. Hope this info helps.

    I have lived in Melbourne for the past 8 years. Initially as a student and currently employed fulltime with a reputed insurance company. I have found this to be a good country, with decent friendly people.
    However, when you live outside of India you have to make an effort to understand their way of living and culture. This will go a long way in finding common grounds and acceptance amongst locals.
    Here are some pointers for students:

    Try to make acquientance/ friendships with people outside of Indian community. Create a good, healthy social network including other nationalities. This will help you improve your language/ communication skills, which will go a long way living in an English-speaking Country. Also, having other people around you will minimise chances of you being targeted.

    Try not to be loud in public places particularly using our native languages. This is seen as being rude. Avoid very loud, lengthy conversations over mobile phones when you are using public transport.

    Prior to settling down here for studies, set aside a budget for a second hand car. Your own vehicle will help you in a big way to not only avoid travelling alone but will also help you secure a part time job very easily. You could pick up a second hand car for Australian $2500.

    Whilst using public transport, listening to hindi/ tamil/ telugu songs on your ipod is fantastic, but be mindful of the volume.

    Do your research on the 'troubled' suburbs prior to settling-in for your accommodation. The cheapest suburb may not be the safest suburb. You will be able to access (on web) the crime rates in different suburbs across the main capitals. In Melbourne, avoid suburbs like Hoppers Crossing, Werribee, Frankston, Broad Meadows and Springvale.

    There are suburbs with increased violence on public transport users. Do not travel alone in trains after 9pm. Arrange for some form of alternate transportation or travel in groups. Where possible take trams (in Melbourne) instead of trains.

    Try to walk away from an 'argument' with a group of people especially at nights. Try not to be a hero every time. No point in trying to make sense to people who have no intentions to listen. If you do feel compelled to say something then respond, do not react.

    Try not to walk alone or travel alone on a Friday or Saturday night.

    Try to find jobs outside our norms. Indians are generally seen as cab drivers. Try to secure jobs outside this sector for your own experience and will help you gain valuable networks with other nationals.

    Most of the time if you are caught in situations wrong place, wrong time it is just unfortunate. But there are situations where you could avoid being in trouble if you just apply common sense.
    Most Australians are good, friendly people who enjoy a bit of banter and fun. There is racism in this country but I wouldn't say it is as bad as the US or UK. No matter where you go, you will find hardcore immature, red heads! 
    The good thing about Australia is that most people are immigrants themselves or even second generation Aussies, so you will be able to find common grounds very easily. 


    I would like to share a few tips. I am a student in New Zealand presently would like to share a few things with you. Please bear in mind the anything can happen to anyone of us anytime, hence we have to be on guard when we are outside our comfort zone.

    1. Staying away from crime suburbs or places, which you are not sure of. These places are mostly used by drug users and majority of attackers are highly doped, sometimes they can't judge what they are doing. Most of the times, it is intentional though.

    2. It is even possible that when you are waiting at road intersections people including girls may shout, gesture or thrown beer bottles or foodstuff at you from there cars. My advice is to be relaxed while walking alone.

    3. Police will not do nothing unless you can identify the attackers, which is rarely possible because most of them look the same. Noting down car numbers is a good habit as it can lead to arrest of culprits.

    Since, we cannot take matters in our own hand, as we are foreigners here, its better to be vigilant & report anything that may affect me or someone else.


    I have been in Sydney for the past 3 years. I came to Australia as a student so I do know the dangers persisting here as far as students are considered.

    First and foremost my prayers are with Shravan and his family. Hope he gets well asap.

    In my past couple of years in this country, I have found the Australians quite friendly and happy natured people; at least till they are sober. Though Australia has just recently opened up its gates for immigrants, within a couple of years the number of immigrants almost match with the locals and in some areas they even outnumber the locals something which the Australians are not much amused about.

    Things to be careful about:

    1) The heavy inflow of Indian students has often bothered the people here. As far as we can speak proper English they are fine. I have seen Indian students with mostly horrible English trying to converse with the Aussies, something that absolutely irks the locals.

    2) Conversing very loudly in native languages upsets and angers the locals. They consider themselves to be extremely suave people. Loud conversations on the cell phones, overly boisterous behaviour in public in native language often invite trouble.

    3) Indian students often look for the cheapest means of accommodation, travel and food joints. Unfortunately the cheapest places are also the most dangerous places. So the students must always look for places, which are either average or above average areas. We cannot compromise safety for money.

    4) Avoid living in areas, which has high number of pubs and bars in the locality. If noticed properly all the incidents happen when the locals are high with booze or drugs.

    5) If you want to hang out in a pub, try to leave the place before 11pm. Most of the brawls in pubs happen after 11 when people are high and they run out of cash for further drinks.

    6) Avoid going out alone after 10 pm in areas known for drunken crime rates. Especially in poor localities or areas filled with pubs and bars.

    7) While travelling in trains always travel near the guard's compartment. Many people overlook the significance but trust me it has saved quite a few mishaps to my knowledge.

    8) It's good to speak and mingle with white guys. It's always helpful to have some white friends around as that nullifies the racism effect.

    9) Most of the brawls in pubs happen either due to excessive drinks or do to matter relating women. So kindly avoid both.

    10) Store the emergency number in speed dial mode. Always helps.

    11) If you suspect someone try and run away from them as fast as possible.

    12) Late night fights happen due to money and need for cigarettes. Have $5 in your pocket. If you sense trouble, drop the money before them and run away from them. Most likely they would pick up the money and go away.

    13) Don't open doors for strangers especially if you feel they are drunk. Always look through the peephole.

    14) Avoid removing your phones or ipods out when walking alone in dark and dangerous areas.

    15) If danger is imminent run and pull the door handles of all the cars nearby. All the cars in Australia have security alarm. The pulling of the car handles triggers the alarm and its alerts the neighbourhood thus dissuading the attacker.

    I hope the Australian police take adequate measures to reduce such attacks. The Indian government must put more pressure on the Australian counterpart for the same.

    If you need to know anything else you can mail me on this id:


    It comes to me as a real surprise that the attacks on Indian / Asian students are on the rise in Australia.

    Australia is believed to be one of the world's best and peaceful destinations for students. I really would not be able to comment on the recent attacks without actually hearing the real story from the eyewitnesses or from the ones who were attacked.

    Well, out of my/ our experience from Australia for the two years that we studied there, not once did we even hear about such an event or even for that matter did any local make any racial comments.

    But, to add to rediff's initiative to avoid racial attacks here are is my advice to students and residents of any foreign country.

    1. Always remain friendly and converse with them in English. Even if you are with your friends/ peers who share a different/ common language, please converse in English when in public places
    2. Avoid noisy/ alarming/ public nuisances. I mean try and avoid partying/ making noises/ racing/ over speeding/ unnecessary public nuisances
    3. Respect the public property there. Please respect the cleanliness/ neatness there. Do not try and break their generally accepted rules like throwing your wastes on the road, spilling.
    4. Also respect the rules while travelling in trains/ pulic vehicles. Do not step on the seats. Please accommodate only two if there are only two seats; do not accommodate 3 or 4 on a two-seater facility. Buy your tickets on time. Respect the 'Q' there.
    5. Respect their privacy. All Australians love their bit of privacy; please do not invade their freedom.
    6. Also at home, do not live the way you have lived here in India. Things are different there. Speak softly, do not play loud music, do not run around your house (particularly if you live on upper floors), please stick to the timings for entry and exit from your residential complexes
    7. Fridays and Saturdays are your party days. Please make full use of them and enjoy as much as you can. Respect the remaining 5 working days.
    8. Please do not get drunk and create public nuisance or inconvenience.

    Hope the above would help.

    Thank you rediff for the above initiative.

    Gohil Girirajsinh

    I am regular reader of I'm working as an engineer at Brisbane, Australia as a Permanent Resident.

    I'd like to give few tips for the newcomers or existing students in Australia:

    Australia is bit different than what people think about western countries. Here the population is less and people are a bit more centric and individualistic.
    Normal Australians are really good, helpful and jolly by nature but can get offended easily by words
    Students should avoid late night train journey or always find populated coaches because at night all rowdies (drunken and drug addicts) travel by trains
    Should avoid staring at them (this is common problem with Indian students when they stare at girls)
    Inform Indian Consulate about your whereabouts.
    Except Melbourne, other areas are quite safe
    If you really feel unsafe, try to relocate your university specially to Queensland (one of the safest states in Australia)

    More on coming here.

    Dr Sayanta Jana, Perth, Australia

    Dear Editor,

    I am an Indian doctor currently working in Perth, Australia for the last four years. It is sad to note the unfortunate events involving Indian students in Melbourne. I have learnt from the news and from my acquaintances, that these attacks were largely unprovoked and racially instigated. Though these claims cannot be proven probably in a court of law, yet the frequency with which Indian students have fallen victims is very worrying.

    My own experience in Australia has been more or less good, with only one single incidence of a racial comment in these four years, where I retaliated back (in words). Instead of going into that detail, I tried to think with my list of things that Indian students should do or should not do in Australia. This is a very noble endeavour by and I hope my advice helps.

    1) Always have a mobile in your pocket, with 000 on fast dialing. This is the number for emergencies (police/ambulance/fire) and police is usually very good at reaching the spot very quickly.

    2) Study the city where you are studying or working. Every city, be it Melbourne, Perth or Adelaide, have suburbs which are good and suburbs which are bad and known for anti-social behaviour. For example, in Perth, Northbridge and Mirrabooka areas are known for nighttime criminal activities. You have to be cautious going into such suburbs, more so at night. Avoid going there at that time if you can.

    3) Always be a bit confident when you walk or roam about at night. From my experience, Aussie street urchins, usually take upper hand if they realise you are frightened. If you stay confident, they will usually make a comment, but will run off or stay away after that.

    4) If you have to run an errand at night, at a shop, say a petrol pump, make sure you know the rules, in times of emergency such as when you are under attack from a local group. It is always better to listen to their request when you are cornered at nighttime in a shop you are running. They are usually only after a few bottles of drink or just $ 50, to buy their next batch of drugs. This is better any day than taking a cut from a knife or a punch on your nose.

    5) Try to stay away from pubs in bad suburbs, as it sometimes gets nasty, and they may target you in a crowd, just due to your skin colour. Though racism is subtle in workplace, it is more pronounced in an area with lots alcohol and girls such as pubs and discs. I am not telling you, not to go to pubs or discs, if you want to go, fine, just take a few friends with you. Better not to venture alone.

    6) If you are cornered at night in a dark alley, just give $50 to them from your wallet and get away while you can. One more thing, do not carry too much cash on yourself. In Australia, you don't need to carry loads of cash because the whole country runs on EFTPOS.

    7) Keep in good touch with local Indian Associations, Community Societies such as Bengali Association, Gujarati Association, Punjabi Association and so on. They will help you if you are in trouble, big time.

    8) Keep a decent friends circle. And when you are a newcomer, make sure you keep right group of friends and not necessarily individuals who are anti-socials or drug addicts. Keep a close circle of good friends, on whom you can rely upon.

    9) Be careful when and how you retaliate. It is alright if you are protecting yourself and inflict somebody a blow in self defense. But make sure, you don't make the first move. In Australia, even a thief or anti-social criminal can take you to court. Anyone can afford a public lawyer and sue you and get you prosecuted. So you have to be careful in your actions and make sure you don't give the first blow.

    Always be confident. Australia is a nice, beautiful place, but you have to be a bit tactful in you daily life, if you would like to survive and not face a racial slur.

    Navin Chandra Nigam

    Below is my experience.

    It is very sad to see the attacks on Indian students. I lived in Melbourne for a short stay and realised that avoidance is the best medicine. The local young generation works on weekly wages and the amount they get on Friday spend on booze and clubs. I have seen them go berserk on Friday and Saturday night and damaging even the national property leave alone attacking Indians.

    The best way to avoid is to stay away during these timings and stay put in hotel or your room. In groups they are mighty and don't think twice to hit anyone since they are not in control due to alcohol influence. We have seen this many times happening and learnt a lesson to not to go out during that time or if necessary go along with a local which is safest.

    Hope this is helpful to our country people staying abroad.

    Happy living and take care.

    Suketu Kohli

    I studied in Melbourne at the Victoria University of Technology in the year 2000-2001.

    Some tips:

    1. Avoid eye contact with people who are hanging out in a group.
    2. Don't get curious about things and start asking questions to strangers
    3. Don't stare at women.
    4. Don't retort back if some one is pulling your leg just smile and shrug it off.
    5. Avoid noisy parties in your house
    6. Avoid staying in cheap rental neighbourhoods. If possible, opt for a smaller flat in a higher paying rental accommodation.
    7. Don't get argumentative with strangers about which cricket team or player is better.

    Note: I had to literally beg to get a decent rental accommodation as the landlord said that he felt Indians were dirty and they would spoil his house. A stranger who felt I was looking at him in a sexual manner bullied me.


    I am both puzzled and anguished at the increasing number of attacks on Indian students in Australia. As an alumni I can't recollect any violent incidents during my time in Australia.

    I believe the below are a few tips that may help Indian international students from being targetted.

    1. Try to blend in well with local culture: dressing, language, mannerisms etc. Do not invite attention in public such as talking loudly in Indian languages. When in Rome, do as the Romans do!

    2. Mingle in multicultural groups so that it doesn't come across as an ethnic Indian group, Chinese group and so on.

    3. Avoid going out late at night, visiting poorly lit shady areas, empty roads or boarding empty train coaches at odd hours. This is common sense, almost a grandmother advice applicable anywhere. Some Indian students do tend to work late shifts as part of their work (part time jobs etc). One has to make a call on what is more important: a few extra dollars or personal safety.

    4. Refrain from renting out accommodations in places or suburbs far from campus that are not safe. One may save on rent but it is safer to stay in a college accommodation, a hostel or a home stay nearby campus.

    5. Finally, this works for me: learn self-defense. Apart from the self-confidence part, it makes one more aware of the surroundings.

     Noel Manoj

    I spent six years in Australia and studied at Melbourne University.

     Please find my gyaan below.

    Indian students have this habit of loudly speaking in vernacular languages in public places which turns off a lot of people -- you will always find an Indian guy talking loudly in Hindi on the train.When in public places speak the local language.

    Try to make friends with the local community so Indians are not perceived as people who stick to their own group.

    Avoid late night clubs unless in the company of a group of friends and have transportation arranged.

    Avoid living/ visiting dodgy suburbs -- Indians have this habit of living in poorer suburbs which is infested with drug addicts/ anti-socials. Other suburbs may be a little expensive to live, but are much safer and people are more friendly.

    Avoid late night trains usually frequented by alcoholics/ homeless/ beggars/ drug addicts.

    Amit Joshi

    I am here in Melbourne and have heard/ seen these things. The best way for students is to focus on your study and avoid the followings:

    Don't talk loudly on phones/ to your colleagues in native languages as here loud mean aggression...people don't like it

    Don's show off your valuable stuff. Don't carry valuables if you really don't need it.

    Avoid going alone in nights

    If you think you are in middle of hooligans, then calmly move off. Don't argue with them. In worst condition don't show that you are scared, try and talk to them, talk with their names if you get to know.

    At nights, if you are travelling in train, sit right behind the train driver's cabin.

    In this recession time, things are going to happen, may become worse.

    Just make yourself as safe as possible.

    Rahul S (Name changed on request)

    I have been in various parts of Australia for around two years. Three simple things that can prevent/ safeguard one from fights & attacks could be:

    No visiting pubs late nights or even if you are visiting, it is always good to travel in groups of six (that's a rough size that would scare your attackers a bit).

    Always watch out the atmosphere three feet in front of you and behind you. This might sound silly, but has helped me quite a bit.

    Never do anything weird/ serious that might attract people from other communities or make them feel awful. This might trigger some reactions from them, verbally or physically.

    Last, but not the least, THINK SMART on how to escape!

    If you have studied in Australia and have tips to share with other readers on how to avoid being attacked, please do e-mail us at with the subject line Avoiding racial attacks. Your name and identity will not be disclosed unless you want it to be revealed.

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