Health and Safety Information for Travellers to Australia

Australia is a secure destination where you can enjoy safe travel experiences the whole year round. Follow these tips to fully enjoy Australia’s unique landscapes – from the vast outback to our wild ocean beaches. Health and Safety Information for Travellers to Australia
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Health and Safety Information for Travellers to Australia

Australia is a secure destination where you can enjoy safe travel experiences the whole year round. Follow these tips to fully enjoy Australia’s unique landscapes – from the vast outback to our wild ocean beaches.

Do I need to purchase travel insurance to travel to Australia?

Purchasing travel insurance that covers you for theft, loss, accidents and medical problems before you leave home is highly recommended. If you plan on doing any adventure activities such as scuba diving, bushwalking or travelling in remote areas, check that you are fully covered under your policy. Remember to bring your insurance policy details and emergency contact numbers with you.

Will I be covered under Australia’s public health care system?

Australia's public health care system is called Medicare and Australian hospitals provide world-class medical facilities and standards of care. The Australian Government has Reciprocal Health Care Agreements with the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, New Zealand, Sweden, the Netherlands, Finland, Belgium, Norway, Slovenia, Malta and Italy, which entitle travellers to some subsidised health services. It is best to check your eligibility before you leave home and have appropriate travel insurance to cover your stay in Australia.

Do I need any vaccinations or medications to travel to Australia?

No special immunisations or vaccinations are required to visit Australia unless you have come from, or have visited, a yellow fever infected country within six days of your arrival. However, regulations and medical advice can change at short notice, so check with your doctor and the Australian Department of Health before you leave home.

Do I need to declare any medications when arriving in Australia?

Medicine brought into Australia for personal use is subject to controls and must be declared on your arrival. It is recommended you bring a prescription or letter from your doctor outlining your medical condition and the medicine you are carrying. If you need to obtain prescription medicine while you are here, a doctor in Australia must write the prescription.

Does Australia have any services if travelling with a disability?

Travelling with a disability won't stop you enjoying all that Australia has to offer. If you have a medical condition or require assistance, you will find plenty of services available. Speak to your travel agent about your specific requirements or visit the Australia For AllCan Go Everywhere and Nican websites. 

How can I protect myself against the Australian sun?

The Australian sun is very strong and can burn your skin in as little as 15 minutes, even on cloudy days. It is important to protect yourself from excessive exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays, and take extra care between 11am and 3pm when UV radiation levels are generally at their highest.

While travelling in Australia, be 'sun smart' and protect yourself from the sun by wearing clothes that cover as much of your skin as possible; applying a high-level water resistant sunscreen (SPF30+ or higher) regularly throughout the day; and wearing a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses. Protect yourself from heat exhaustion by sitting in the shade and drinking plenty of water to avoid dehydration.

Find weather reports on the Bureau of Meteorology website.

Does Australia enforce smoking bans?

In Australia, smoking is banned in enclosed public spaces to protect people from second hand tobacco smoke. This includes public transport, shopping centres, restaurants, hotels, cinemas and other public locations. Tobacco products cannot be sold or supplied to persons under 18 years old.

How can I contact emergency services in Australia?

The phone number for emergency services in Australia is 000. The operator can connect you to police, ambulance or the fire brigade. Only phone 000 in an emergency. 

Is there much crime in Australia?

Australia has a stable political system and low crime rate and Australians generally experience a safe lifestyle. However, as with travel at home or away, you should observe the same precautions with your personal safety and possessions.

When is the danger period for bushfires in Australia?

For most of southern Australia, the danger period for bushfires is from late spring to summer, while in the Northern Territory most bushfires occur in winter and spring. Before setting out on your trip, check the Fire Danger Ratings (FDR) of your destination often included in TV, local radio and newspaper reports. When camping, use designated fireplaces, adhere to total fire bans and always extinguish campfires completely with water.

Is it safe to swim at Australia’s beaches?

When swimming at Australia’s beaches be aware of strong currents called rips. Always swim between the red and yellow flags, which indicate the section patrolled by Surf Lifesavers. Never swim alone, at night, under the influence of alcohol or directly after a meal. Always check water depth before diving in and never run and dive into the water from the beach.

How can I avoid Australia’s sharks and crocodiles?

Shark attacks in Australia are rare. Shark netting on Australian beaches deter sharks, but you can further reduce your risk by swimming between the flags on patrolled beaches and not swimming or surfing at dusk or evening. Avoid swimming alone, a long way offshore, at river mouths or along drop-offs to deeper water. 

Crocodiles live in rivers and coastal estuaries across northern Australia, often changing habitat via sea. When travelling near crocodile habitats, observe safety signs and don’t swim in rivers, estuaries, deep pools or mangrove shores. Also seek expert local advice about crocodiles before camping, fishing or boating.

Does Australia have any poisonous animals?

Marine stingers are present in the tropical oceans around northern Australia from November to May. During this time you can only swim within stinger-resistant enclosures, which are set up on the most popular beaches. You will also need to wear protective clothing when swimming, snorkeling or diving on the outer Great Barrier Reef. Always observe warning signs. When bushwalking or hiking, you can avoid snake and spider bites by wearing protective footwear. If bitten, seek immediate medical attention by phoning 000.

The only harmful spiders in Australia are the red back and funnel web, however there have been few deaths from spider bites since anti venoms were made available in 1981.

Is it safe to travel in remote areas of Australia?
It is safe to drive through Australia’s remote and rugged areas, but you should undertake thorough preparation. Before embarking on a 4WD or outback journey, ensure you have a roadworthy vehicle fitted with GPS and two spare tyres. You’ll also need maps, extra food, water, fuel and an emergency plan. Plan your route carefully and notify a third party of your expected arrival. If driving a conventional vehicle through remote areas, drive slowly on unsealed, dusty or narrow roads and always check road conditions before leaving major roads. Mobile phones have limited coverage in remote areas, so check your phone provider for coverage. Avoid driving in extreme heat conditions.

Is it safe to bushwalk or hike in the wilderness?

When planning a hike or bushwalk, consider the length and difficulty of the walk and check weather forecasts before setting off. If walking without a guide, tell someone where you’re going and when you expect to return. Wear protective footwear, a hat, sunscreen and insect repellent and pack wet weather clothing and equipment, a topographic map and plenty of water. When walking, stay on the track, behind safety barriers and away from cliff edges. Avoid walking alone; it is best to arrange a party of three or more, especially in remote areas.