In 2016, reports of theft and robbery near the University of Melbourne’s campus grounds led to concerns around student safety. While reports never identified victims as international students, Victoria Police confirmed at the time that some victims had identified themselves as Chinese nationals. Furthermore, a report produced in 2011 by the Australian Institution of Criminology discovered Indian students were more likely to become victims of theft and robbery.
Student safety is important, and in a city with a reputation for being the world’s most livable, students should feel comfortable to move in and around their campus without fear of any oncoming threat or hostility.
To assist international students who may be concerned about their safety and wellbeing, Victoria Police have their own tips on how students can take extra preventive measures to ensure their safety is prioritised – especially when it comes to exam period, where the sight of students studying late at night in their campus library is not uncommon.
We’ve summarised those tips into an easy-to-remember acronym that will help you stay safe if you’re out late on campus: PARK.
P: PROTECT YOUR VALUABLES
Being a student isn’t cheap. Laptops, smartphones, studying materials – these all cost a lot of money and thieves know it.
In order to keep your belongings secure, protect these valuables by keeping them out of sight from the public. Hide your smartphone in your pocket, put your laptop in your bag along with your study materials. By keeping your valuables unexposed, you can make yourself become less of a target for robbery and theft.
As an added measure, if you’ve driven to campus or were transported by a friend, you can also store your belongings in the boot or glove box.
Under no circumstances should they be left unattended, because thieves can be quicker can you can ever think of.
A: ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR SURROUNDINGS
These days, it’s common to see people look down onto their phone as they’re walking from one place to another yet doing so at night can make you become more susceptible to theft, especially if you’ve got earphones in.
Consider that the glow from a bright smartphone can function as a signal to a thief, indicating to them that you are not fully aware or paying attention to the world around you.
Acknowledge your surroundings by taking a moment to think about where you are and what you’re doing. The next time you cross the street or find yourself in an empty campus, avoid taking your phone out just to check that last notification. Keep it away from public view and hide it in your pocket or in your bag.
And if you’re listening to music, keep one ear free so you can hear if someone is approaching you from behind.
R: RECONSIDER RISKS
Play it safe! That one shortcut you take to get to the library may be compromised. If you’re out late at night, take the road most travelled and stick to familiar, well-lit paths and areas that are somewhat populated.
Don’t put yourself in a situation where help is not instantly available. Avoid dark streets, isolated parks and other locations that might become a threat to your safety.
K: KNOW AND BE KNOWN
If you do intend to stay out late, it’s a good idea to know what your plan is and to let others know where you’ll be, how you’ll get there and how you intend to return.
Know your route and inform others close to you like a good friend, your group chat or a family member. If something does happen to you, they’ll know where you were supposed to be and can report on your behalf if you’re unable to.
Ensure that trusted contacts are saved onto your phone as well, that way if you’re in an emergency and need to use your phone quickly, you can speed dial them in a pinch.
This story is part of Meld Magazine’s “Think Smart, Stay Safe” campaign and has been produced with assistance from Victoria Police.
The campaign aims to provide international students with relevant resources that ensure students are aware of when to report a crime, how to identify when a crime has happened to them and who students can report to.
In case of emergency, please call Triple Zero (000) for police, fire or ambulance services.
If you’re a victim of crime, contact the nearest police station in person or via phone to make a report. For information about local police stations in Victoria, visit Victoria Police’s official website.
If you want to provide information about crime or suspicious activity anonymously, call Crime Stoppers Victoria on 1800 333 000 or report online through its official website or download the Crime Stoppers Victoria app.