Law and Order
Australia’s emergency phone number is 000 (zero zero zero). It is a free call from every phone in Australia, including mobile phones.
You should call 000 if you are in a life-threatening situation and need the help of the police, fire brigade or ambulance service. This includes if you are witnessing a crime in progress. Do not call 000 if it is not an emergency, for example if you have a cold and need to see a doctor, if you are lost and need directions, or if you are locked out of your house.
From mobile phones, 000 will connect callers, although many newer digital phones require the user to dial 112, the international standard emergency number. Consult your mobile phone carrier if you are not sure how to access the 000 emergency phone number.
When you call 000, you will be connected to an operator who will help progress your request for help. You will need to tell them which service you need – simply say “police”, “fire” or “ambulance”. It is important that you try to stay calm and give the operator clear information on what the emergency is. Answer any questions as best you can. It is extremely important that you tell the operator where you are, and any landmarks that are nearby (a statue, bridge, store, etc). If you cannot speak English well, you must first tell the operator what kind of help you need (police, fire or ambulance) and then say your language. You will be connected to the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS National) directly, so do not hang up. The TIS National interpreter will then help the police, fire or ambulance service to obtain your address and other details.
While you are waiting for help to arrive, try to stay calm and don’t do anything that will put yourself or others in danger. Generally, help will arrive very quickly and it is best to leave these situations to the people who are trained to deal with them.
If you need an ambulance, call 000 and ask for an “ambulance”. Do not hang up the telephone if you do not speak English well – say your language and an interpreter will assist you with your call. An ambulance provides emergency transport to hospital and immediate medical attention. Your Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) should cover the cost for emergency ambulance transport. Read more at www.oshcworldcare.com.au or contact your health insurance provider directly for more information.
Every state and territory in Australia has its own police force. Police in Australia are not connected to the military forces and do not play a part in politics. Their aim is to protect life and property in the community, prevent and detect crime, and preserve peace. The police may intervene in family issues where there is a domestic dispute or concern about physical, sexual or psychological abuse.
If you need police assistance and it’s not an emergency – for example, to report a crime such as theft – either go to the nearest police station or call the police help line in your state or territory.
In the ACT, New South Wales, Tasmania, Northern Territory, South Australia and Western Australia, you can call the Police Assistance Line on 131 444 and you will be connected to the police in your state. If you live in Victoria or Queensland, you will need to contact your local police station. Their numbers are listed under ‘Police stations’ in the White Pages telephone directory. There is no charge for police services.
In emergency situations you can call 000 and ask for “police”. Do not hang up the telephone if you do not speak English well – say your language and an interpreter will assist you with your call.
If you have witnessed a criminal offence or if you have information which may help police solve a crime, you can contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 from anywhere in Australia. These details may include names of people involved, the place and time of the offence, identification of a motor vehicle and so on. When using the telephone to share crime information with Crime Stoppers you do not have to give any of your personal details such as your telephone number, name or address – you can remain anonymous. Please note that Crime Stoppers does not handle emergencies (in an emergency you should call 000). The role of Crime Stoppers is to collect information to solve a crime.
Read more information about Crime Stoppers at:
Read more about Police services in each state and territory at:
Every state and territory in Australia also has a State Emergency Service (SES) organisation that assists police, fire and ambulance services in the event of severe floods, storms, bushfires etc. They also assist in emergency evacuations, search and rescue, and mass casualties.
If you need assistance from the SES because, for example, your home has been damaged in a storm, you can call them on 132 500, no matter where you are in Australia.
Australians enjoy a lot of freedom in their daily lives. We can live where we want, say what we want, dress how we want and have personal relationships with whomever we want. It’s this freedom of lifestyle that makes Australia so attractive to visitors.
One of the reasons we have such a great lifestyle in Australia is our representative democracy, the separation of powers, and our respect for the rule of law. We have a lot of laws in Australia and as a result, society runs smoothly.
In being granted a visa to study in Australia, you signed a document (Australian Values Statement Temporary) agreeing to respect Australian values and obey the laws of Australia for the duration of your stay. It’s important for everyone to have respect for and obey the laws that help keep Australia the wonderful country that it is. As an international student, you must also obey these laws, even those that are different to the laws you live with at home.
Failure to comply with the laws of this land (including State and Territory laws) could result in a fine or the cancellation of your visa and possible deportation back home. If you are convicted of a serious crime, it could result in imprisonment. Nobody wants this to happen!
Some common laws you should be aware of include:
- you must be over 18 years of age to purchase alcohol or cigarettes;
- smoking in many public places, including shopping centres, restaurants and on public transport, is prohibited;
- you cannot buy, sell, possess or use illicit drugs, including marijuana, amphetamines and opiates;
- you cannot carry weapons, including knives and guns;
- you must wear a helmet when riding a bicycle, motorbike or scooter;
- if you drive a car in Australia, you must have a driver’s licence and make sure you are aware of and obey all road rules;
- it is illegal to offer or receive a bribe for services, including those provided by a government official;
- it is illegal to discriminate against any person because of their gender, race, country of origin, political beliefs, religious beliefs, marital status, disability or sexual preference; an
- acts of violence against other people, property or animals is a criminal offence. This includes violence against family members.
You can find a comprehensive outline of Australian law and the legal system at www.australia.gov.au
If you do break the law are arrested and need to attend a court appearance you will need legal representation to negotiate Australia’s complex legal system. Read more about legal services at:
If you are the victim of a crime you should call the Police Assistance Line on 131 444 if you live in the ACT, New South Wales, Tasmania, South Australia, Western Australia or the Northern Territory. If you live in Victoria or Queensland, contact your nearest police station. Their numbers are listed under ‘Police stations’ in the White Pages telephone directory. Police in Australia are very approachable, trustworthy and helpful with strong ties to the community. They will provide you with the assistance you need, and you should feel confident in approaching them.
If you have witnessed a criminal offence or if you have information which may help police solve a crime contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 from anywhere in Australia.
Read more information about Crime Stoppers at:
More safety information: