Melbourne Travel Guide

Health & Safety

While Melbourne has experienced a trend of violent behavior recently, it has unfairly gained a reputation of being a violent city. Some parts of Melbourne are best avoided after hours though, primarily some parts of the western suburbs. Gang and racial violence is an issue although the Government has announced a state wide crack down on un-social and violent behavior with large police presence and train station PSO's. Caution is needed to be exercise after hours around bars and clubs, where fights often occur.

While Melbourne is a very safe city for its size, the usual precautions still apply as for any large city, including keeping valuables hidden and avoiding solo night travel.

Some areas, such as Collingwood and Footscray, are safe during the day but can be dangerous at night. These two areas have a heavy police presence, though, so provided you stick to main streets (e.g., for Collingwood, Smith Street), you should be fine. Outer-suburban areas like Dandenong, Sunshine and Ringwood do not have a heavy police presence, and in the unlikely event a traveler would visit them, are areas of high risk caution would be warranted. If you stay on well lit, well traveled streets, you should be fine, but be alert.

Melbourne's red-light districts include King Street, known for its concentration of strip clubs, and certain parts of St Kilda (in particular Grey Street, Inkerman Street and Greeves Street) where there is some illegal street prostitution. Even so, you are more likely to be harassed by drunken revelers and street walkers than you are to be actually threatened. Melbourne City Council has established all-night "Safe City" taxi ranks with security guards on King Street, outside Flinders Street Station and on Bourke Street.

If you travel by train at night, stay in the front carriage close to the driver's area and note emergency buttons. If a problem occurs, push emergency buttons on the train or railway station to attract attention. Stay in Safety Zones while on stations at night. These are marked with yellow lines and are usually well lit and have emergency buttons as well as about 4 cameras pointed at the area. Robberies on trains are rare, but it occasionally happens (and when it does, at night). Railway police patrol most services. In early 2010, there were attacks on Indian students, sometimes claimed to be racially motivated.

If you are driving your own car or rented automobile, beware of car theft or break-in. Avoid temptation by hiding valuables out of sight, and always lock the car and leave the windows up before you leave. If you are waiting in your car, lock the car as well. A police officer will always show ID before asking you to open your door or window.

Pickpocketing is rare in Melbourne, but be aware of your belongings out the front of Flinders Street Station and the first block of Swanston Street (between Flinders and Collins Streets).

Beggars frequent the southern ends of Elizabeth and Swanston Streets, Bourke Street Mall, and the intersection of Bourke with Exhibition and Russell Streets. You can also expect to be persistently targeted if seated outdoors at a pub or cafe in the city. Verbal abuse and intimidation by beggars is uncommon but by no means unknown.

Although scams are rare in Melbourne, be wary of real estate agents (especially if you have newly arrived and plan to stay only for the short term). There have been many cases of real estate agents preying upon overseas students in particular. Common scams include charging tenants for costs that don't exist (such as charges for 'advertising' when tenants move out) and deducting costs for non-existent reparations and cleaning from the bond. Be sure to consult the Tenants Union of Victoria and know your rights when you are charged for anything and move in and out.

Take extreme care when crossing tram tracks in and around Melbourne. Trams tend run very fast in Melbourne to avoid disruption with the traffic. There have been recent cases of pedestrians being hit by trams, which can cause life-threatening injuries or even instant death. Even if a tram has passed, look on the other side in case there is another tram approaching, as trams often run practically nose-to-tail, especially in Elizabeth Street.

Intensive solicitation of pedestrians by corporations and activist groups ('chuggers') has become common in the city. Many resort to intrusive tactics such as blocking your path or occupying all four corners of a street intersection. They are not after a one-off donation, but to sign you up to a regular contribution plan from your credit card or bank account (from which they receive a substantial percentage).

The infamous Melbourne gangland war that claimed many lives is now over and despite anything you see on the media having to do with it, violent criminal occurrences are very rare and isolated. As long you are not involved with Melbourne's underworld, you do not have anything to worry about.


source: Wikivoyage

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