Australia is a vast, beautiful and exceptionally diverse country. Each year we see tens of thousands of backpackers, Gap Year, socially lost and generally lovely sun-seeking travellers come here to work under our infamous Australian Working Holiday program or just to visit. In recent times we have seen an increase in the visibility of violence against female travellers in Australia.
In all honesty, we have seen an increase in the visibility of violence against women in Australia. Sadly this is not just a trend against female travellers, female bloggers or female influencers. It’s an issue that is affecting women across all of Australia. As movements like #metoo are making waves, women and female identifying folk are more vocal now on what is happening in our everyday lives.
With a population of over 23.3 million, including a few tens of thousands of working backpackers and approx 8.6 million tourists a year, is Australia safe for female travellers?
Is Australia a Safe Country for female travellers?
Yes. Generally speaking Australia is a safe and easy country to travel in. We have relatively good public transport in the major cities, a some what reliable taxi system and the spread of ride sharing services working wonders on helping people get around town.
Here’s some fun statistics to support my argument that – Yes, Australia is a safe country for
female travellers. Actually let’s change that – Australia is a safe country for travellers in general no matter where you sit on the gender fence.
- In the last six years, the rate of robbery victimisation has steadily declined from 86 per 100,000 in 2007 to 58 per 100,000 in 2012. Generally, the rate of robbery victimisation has been declining since 2001.
- The rate of sexual assault victimisation increased to 80 per 100,000 in 2012. The last increase in the rate of victimisation was seen in 2006. The rate of victimisation in 2012 is at a similar rate to what it was in 1996, when the rate was 79 per 100,000.
- The rate of homicide victimisation has never exceeded two per 100,000 in the 17 years for which data are available. Victimisation has stayed at one per 100,000 since 2007.
- In 2012, like 2011, the rate of kidnapping/abduction was three per 100,000 population; much lower than the peak of four per 100,000 in 1999
But hang on, what about that British girl in the news who was held hostage for over two months. Surely that’s not an isolated incident and all Australians want to kidnap and abuse travellers and steal their souls.
Ok maybe that last statement was a bit of an over reaction on my behalf. Even as an Australian travelling around Australia I’ve found most people to be generous, welcoming and helpful. With the occasional twat thrown in. With a country as vast as this it’s not going to be possible to not run into twats along the road. You will find rednecks, bogans and the occasional racists on the road less travelled in Australia.
The incident in which a British national was kidnapped and held hostage for two months is certainly a horrific situation. In no way am I shaming or blaming the victim. If we look past the media hype there were a few red flags that shows that this was not an outlaying, freakish incident. The victim knew her capture and had been living with him before things went horribly wrong. Then other news reports say that she had agreed to go on a road trip with this person. It’s hard to shift through and find the truth. One thing we do know is that this was a horrid and unusual incident in which a young woman may never fully recover from. This was not an isolated incident, the victim was chosen due to her relationship to the person who committed this crime. What I’m saying is that this incident was not one of opportunity.
By now you’re probably getting ready to cancel your flights to Australia or lock your daughters up so they can never arrive here and be at risk. Please don’t do that. You’ll be denying yourself what could be a positively life changing travel experience.
Crimes against people happen in all countries! Australia included.
Australia has some great cities to explore – such as Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney.
Staying Safe in Australia
Australia is rightfully seen as one of the most backpacker friendly destinations in the world. Australia is easily one of the easiest places to travel alone as a woman. There’s no stigma to travelling alone as a woman or any gender really. With such a heavy reliance on the tourist dollar Australia is nearly flooded with backpackers, hostel and affordable accommodation options.
Hostels/backpackers inns will generally speaking have a female only dorm. If you do end up in a mixed sex dorm and you don’t feel safe go and talk to the hostel staff.
With the sheer number of backpackers and travellers that come to Australia you’re bound to meet someone along the road. So even if you arrive alone you’ll soon find someone to buddy up with. Now that doesn’t have to be someone to bump and grind with necessarily just a good ol’ fashioned travel companion. And if that doesn’t work out then walk away.
Don’t Drink Like A Drongo
Ok my sincere apologies for that crappy attempt at using stereotypical Hollywood style Australian sayings. But in all seriousness know your limits when drinking. Australia has a heavy drinking culture. We love to drink. In happiness we drink. In sadness we drink. Just because we can we’ll pop open a beer or wine and enjoy it.
Don’t drink yourself into a stupor where you have no idea who you are, what you are doing and where you pants are.
Do Your Research.
Like any where in the world our Australian cities do have some less then desirable places. Ask your hostel or fellow travellers about areas top avoid, times to be out and about. Personally I wouldn’t be comfortable as a single female traveller walking around areas of Darwin or Cairns late at night.
Don’t get caught up in government statistics. They can go into a bit of a scare moungering mode in an attempt to get federal funding.
Tell People Where You Are Going.
Because if something does happen and you don’t return this is probably the first question that the police will ask. Some days it pays to be prepared.
Have Travel Insurance.
I know I harp on about this but please do. It is so important to have insurance incase something goes wrong. Hopefully you’ll never need to use it. We use and recommend 1Cover Travel Insurance if you are an Australian citizen or World Nomads if you’re not or are already on the road. Both companies we have used and made claims with little to no troubles.
Dress to Impress.
This is my final safety tip for any travellers, but certainly female travellers in Australia. Dress to impress yourself. Now I am in no way condoning what people have done to young women and blamed the woman’s attire. I am not here to body shame you either. You are free to wear as much or as little clothing as you desire. It’s just a little bit of advice on what you wear and how the world may perceive you. As someone who has previously worked at an airport I can almost instantly tell what country a backpacker is from based on their attire alone before they’ve ordered the first beer from me. I’ve seen a lot more sneaky breasts and vajayjays then I care to admit to. As young ladies are rearranging backpacks, handing over boarding passes or even just stretching up to grab someone off a shop shelf.
Shop my amazing backpackers wardrobe. You’ll love the super smick outfits that I’ve chosen.
What I am saying is be dressed for the occasion. Walking around in a bikini in an airport might get you some unwanted attention- bikini on the beach totally fine. Forgetting underwear and rummaging through your bags at the train station might get you some unwanted attention. Be aware of your situation and dress accordingly. Australia is an open minded country but in saying that Australians are more likely to call you out on your outfit then just smile and walk away, head shaking is disbelief.
In the words of our friend Mike, Bemused Backpacker ;
So please do not imagine for one second that Australia is anything less than the amazing, wonderful and generally safe destination that it absolutely is.
Have you visited Australia? Let us know in the comments below how safe you felt as a visitor here.
Founder, Principal Blogger & Coffee Drinker
Coffee Lover | Travel Blogger | Horse Rider | Adventure Racer | Donut Dame. Generally nice lady-enjoys wine, indie movies & random dance parties in my tent.
If You Liked This Post You May Also Like:
- Our Best Tips for an Australian Road Trip - […] really safe country overall. Jean of Traveling Honeybird shares her perspective in her piece “Is Australia Safe For Female…
I am glad to find that Australia is an amazing place for female travellers.
Hello! Australia is just as safe as the USA. You just have to take the same precautions as you would as at home. Eg. Don’t hitch hike, don’t go home with someone you don’t know. etc. Watch your drinks in pubs and hotels. As for beaches there are the well know Gold Coast ones that are a bit touristy.
Some really practical tips here. As an Aussie myself I have felt safe in just about every nook and cranny that I have been to in this fair country of ours … except Dubbo … I felt very unease there walking alone after dark. It was probably all fine but I trusted my gut and got back to the hotel in a cab pronto. Better safe than sorry I think. Also I seem to meet all the dickheads and twats everywhere. I am seriously like a magnet lol
Any female who think Australia is dangerous must be living in a hole! There’s so much goodness in that country it’s too much of a pity to miss out! You have very valid points in this post – great job!
Australia is more definitely safe for female travelers. I was just there last summer (US summer vs Australian summer) and loved it. But then I’m biased because I adore Australia.
Although I had no idea how high the sexual assault rate was. Your safety tips are spot on. Especially the one about not drinking like a drongo. Too much alcohol and someone can get in trouble anywhere.
How long have you been working at the airport? Where you working there when we met at TBEX Thailand?
What a comical piece of writing. I don’t think I have ever forgotten to wear my knickers . . . ever.
Having travelled Australia as a lone female backpacker, I can say I felt very safe. I didn’t find I got any unwanted attention but I did wear my bikini only on the beach.
I do think it is really sad what happened to the British girl and hope that this was an isolated incident. I agree that this can happen anywhere in the world.
Totally agree with this article. I can say Australia is very safe as I lived there for 7 months and it was amazing! I’m so sorry for what happened to that girl…is not normal but these thinks sadly happen sometimes.
I hope I can go back soon and live another adventure!
Thanks for sharing 😉
I have yet to travel to Australia, but I couldn’t agree more. It’s as safe as you are prepared. As long as you have your wits about you and some common sense to avoid more riskier situations, you should be okay to travel alone regardless of your gender. I honestly didn’t hear about the British kidnapping in Australia, but as you say, although not her fault, there were some red flags to pay attention to while travelling. Great post!
I used to live in London, before moving to Australia. And I remember when I was about to move to London quite a few people were convinced London wasn’t a safe place to be. The safety of majority of the places is related to the level of common sense. In Australia I would be much more concerned about water safety than potential danger from fellow human beings. As you said you do your research take precautions and you will be fine.
I haven’t been to Australia yet, but I know a lot of people who have gone backpacking solo and nothing bad ever happened to them – except from my cousin, who got arrested for overstaying her visa and working illegally (but that’s a completely different story). I think the rules and suggestions you listed apply to any country, really. Would’ve been the same here in France 🙂
I love your personality, it shines through this post. I always wonder if any place is truly safe for female travellers and you are right, we need some common sense. I have been heavily researching Australia and New Zealand (not sure which one yet) for my future vacation – and I love to drink…maybe I should find a drinking buddy to make sure I stay safe 🙂
Anita there is no place that is truly unsafe for women based on their gender. Being a woman doesn’t make places more unsafe. Take reasonable precautions, do your research and reduce the risk to you as an individual, and you’ll be fine.
Can really relate to your tips, they’re not only valid for this part of the world I guess. I haven’t been to Australia myself yet, so it’s cool how you base your points on actual numbers. And well, these days, as much happens in a usual European city as it does somewhere off the track to be honest. So yeah, Australia is another of those many points on my list, sigh 🙂
I haven’t been to Australia yet but I will without any fear! Stray horrific incidents happen in all the countries. I believe very strongly that its very wrong in stereotyping anything at all. Being from India, I’ve been stereotyped so many times. Sometimes the questions people ask just makes me want to bang my head on the wall!!!!
As a fellow Australian, I agree wholeheartedly with the thrust of your post. For those who don’t understand our culture and way things are, use of the statistics is a good measure for most. Especially if you compare these to other popular tourism destinations, Australia comes out looking extremely safe indeed.
Except for drop bears….
I agree – even with safe places there are going to be a few others who would exploit tourists. So, it’s not the place but more a few select people who just want to do something bad to others. I love Australia because there are so many variety of things to see or do! So, it’s upon us travelers to take an extra effort to protect ourselves while traveling.
Hubby is Aussie and I just got back from 2 months there. Other than scorching heat in Queensland, there is seriously nothing to worry about here and that news article is an anomaly especially if she new the kidnapper! I am from Canada and these things happen everywhere. Australia is such a safe place to travel for everyone. The only other incident that made me quite sad was the Sydney Siege, but that wouldn’t keep me from returning to that beautiful city. I do agree that I wouldn’t walk around Cairns at night on my own either. You just need to use common sense with attracting undesirables.
Thanks for these great safety tips and reassurances about Australia. What about kangaroos? Any tips about kangaroos? I’ve heard about attacks but are they true?
Yes it is true that kangaroos, in certain situations will attack. Like most wildlife they are exactly that wild! They are big, powerful animals. It’s not rare or unheard of. I’d certainly never suggest that anyone approach a kangaroo in the wild. In a zoo situation they are actually quite tame and rather lazy. So if you want to pat a kangaroo then go to a zoo or sanctuary.
Thanks for reassuring that Australia is safe to travel for females! I think in general, we should always be alert when traveling, regardless which country we’re going. Like you said, don’t drink until you are unconscious, dress properly, and stay at a safe area. That usually will keep you out of danger 🙂
Even before I started reading your blog, I knew the answer to the question. Travelling in Australia is absolutely safe. A few incidents here and there should not discourage tourists and backpackers to visit such an amazing country which has so much to offer. Thanks for the tips and suggestions to consider while travelling.
As an adopted Aussie I totally agree with you. Australia is no less safe than any other western destination – but there are always going to be isolated incidents, and it’s not fair to tarnish the whole country with the same brush. This incident, whilst horrific, should serve as a reminder for people to take the same precautions and have the same self-awareness as they would anywhere else in the world.
Completely agree with you! I’ve been to Australia, lived there… and I survived. 😛 This could happen anywhere in the world. It is a simple reminder to be aware and stay safe. When you move to another country -especially on a working holiday visa- it’s easy to get comfy and forget about this! Brilliant post Jean!
One of the best responses to this awful incident I have read! Australia is an amazing, safe country,and travel in general is extremely safe too (with the right knowledge, attitude and preparation) and that goes for BOTH genders equally. Individual incidents may be horrific, but they should never be considered as the norm as the media sensationalism would have you believe.