Carrickalinga, Fleurieu Peninsula, SA © Courtney Clark and Jason Batey

Health and safety information

Frequently asked health and safety questions

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.

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 a number of countries, which entitle travellers to some subsidised health services. It's best to check your eligibility before you leave home, and it's always important to have appropriate travel insurance to cover your stay in 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.

Prescription medicine brought into Australia for personal use is subject to controls and must be declared on your arrival. It is recommended you bring your prescription or a letter from your doctor outlining your medical condition and the medicine you are carrying. It is not necessary to declare medicine for personal use that does not require a prescription. If you need to obtain prescription medicine while you are here, a doctor in Australia must write the prescription.

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 Can Go Everywhere and People With Disability Australia websites. 

The Australian sun is very strong and can burn your skin in as little as 15 minutes, even on cloudy days. It's 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.

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.

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. 

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

Bushfires can occur in Australia. Find out more about bushfire safety and tips for your travels here.

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. Learn more about water safety in Australia here.

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. When travelling near crocodile habitats, observe safety signs and don’t swim in rivers, estuaries, deep pools or mangrove shores. Seek expert local advice about crocodiles before camping, fishing or boating.

In general, always observe warning signs that are in place. 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, snorkelling or diving on the outer Great Barrier Reef. When bushwalking or hiking, you can avoid snake and spider bites by wearing protective footwear. If bitten, seek immediate medical attention by phoning 000. Deaths from snake and spider bites are very rare since anti-venoms were made available in 1981.

It is safe to drive through Australia’s remote and rugged areas, but you should ensure you're adequately prepared. 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 with your phone provider for coverage before your trip. Avoid driving in extreme heat conditions where possible, too.

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.