Overall Crime and Safety Situation
U.S. Consulate General Perth does not assume responsibility for the professional ability or integrity of the persons or firms appearing in this report. The American Citizen Services (ACS) Unit cannot recommend a particular individual or establishment and assumes no responsibility for the quality of services provided.
THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE HAS ASSESSED PERTH AS BEING A LOW-THREAT LOCATION FOR CRIME DIRECTED AT OR AFFECTING OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS.
Please review OSAC’s Australia-specific webpage proprietary analytic reports, Consular Messages, and contact information.
Perth’s Central Business District is safe and densely populated during daylight hours. With the majority of Perth’s population residing in outlying suburbs, the area quickly empties at night. Care should be taken when walking through these areas after dark. Travelers should stick to well-illuminated, populated streets in entertainment areas, avoid beggars, and minimize obvious displays of wealth. After-hours entertainment areas typically have higher incidents of assaults and alcohol/drug-fueled crime.
Overall, there have been modest increases in most types of crime in Western Australia in 2016. Western Australia police reported 132.3 crimes against persons and 544.6 crimes against property per 100,000 people during the most recent reporting period (July 2015 – June 2016); this is relatively low compared to most major international cities.
Theft and burglary rates are comparatively lower than rates reported in most U.S. cities of a similar size. There were 93,758 thefts reported (-0.7% from the same period in 2015). There were also 28,489 burglaries reported on dwellings (+0.1%) and 10,078 on non-dwellings (+0.4%).
There were 8,712 vehicle thefts reported (+0.7% from the same period in 2015). Despite the small increase, vehicle theft overall has decreased significantly over the past decade due to the use of immobilizers and other vehicle security technology. Vehicle theft through the burglary of keys from homes has become more common. The risk of residential burglaries can be reduced by installing an alarm system and motion-detection lighting and utilizing locking devices on windows/doors.
According to the Western Australia police, there were 21,162 domestic-related assaults (+0.2% from the same period in 2015) and 12,186 non-domestic assaults (+0.1%). The Australian Bureau of Statistics reported that 60.4% of assaults occurred in residential areas, 25% in community areas, 7.9% in retail shopping areas, and 4.6% in recreational areas.
Victims of assault commonly reported that the offender did not use a weapon, and a large proportion of victims reported knowing the offender. Australia has extremely restrictive firearms controls, rendering the purchase, licensing, and storage very difficult compared to the U.S. Firearms ownership is common in rural agriculture areas for vermin control; however, military-grade firearms (semi-automatic, high-powered weapons) are illegal. With the exception of rare events involving organized criminal elements, firearms-related offenses are relatively rare in Western Australia.
The Western Australia police documented 230 business robberies (+0.1% from the same period in 2015) and 1,140 non-business robberies (+0.4%). The Australian Bureau of Statistics reports nearly half of all robberies involved the use of a weapon, with a knife being used in just over one in five instances and a gun in less than one in 10.
Elements of organized crime exist in Western Australia. The most prominent elements are outlaw motorcycle gangs, who are often identifiable through gang clothing (colors).
Cybercriminals continue to gain access to networks primarily through targeted emails (spear phishing), which was the predominant cybersecurity incident reported. Several free Wi-Fi hot spots and Internet cafes are available; however, these are not considered to be secure and may be vulnerable to cyberattacks.
Incidence of card skimming is relatively low, but they do occur. Card skimming machines have been used by taxi drivers, although the rate of incidence is also considered relatively low.
Travelers should cover ATM keypads when entering their PINs. Travelers should also avoid conducting sensitive and/or financial transactions when utilizing hot spots and cafes.
Travelers should monitor the SCAM Watch website, maintained by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), for the latest information on how to recognize, avoid, and report scams.
Other Areas of Concern
The outback is extremely remote, and travelers should plan to bring appropriate food, water, and fuel supplies on long drives. If a vehicle breaks down in a remote area, travelers should remain with their vehicle. Many travelers have perished in the outback after leaving their vehicles to look for help. Do not expect to have cellular phone coverage in the outback.
Australian road safety is considered to be excellent. Speeding is enforced via speed cameras and police traffic patrols.
Random breath testing checkpoints are routinely implemented, with times and locations varying. If requested by a police officer, drivers are required by law to submit to testing. A driver is in violation of the law with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .05 percent or greater.
International drivers must carry their driver’s license with them when driving. In the event of an accident, drivers are required to stop and give assistance to injured persons. Each party is required to provide the name, address, registration details, and vehicle owner’s name/address to the other party. This includes the owner of the property damaged and the injured persons (or an individual representing them). Traffic accidents must be reported to the Western Australia police. Persons injured in a motor vehicle accident may be covered by the state government’s compulsory third-party insurance. This insurance covers compensation for injuries only (not for damage to property or medical costs). Compulsory third-party insurance is a condition of motor vehicle licensing. If a crash occurs involving an unlicensed vehicle, the driver and owner may be financially liable for the damages paid to the injured person. Further information can be obtained from the Insurance Commission of Western Australia. For more information on self-driving, please review OSAC’s Report “Driving Overseas: Best Practices.”
Public Transportation Conditions
Taxis are generally safe and reliable. Taxi drivers are required to display their identification prominently (on the vehicle dashboard/windscreen visor). Travelers should ensure the ID picture matches the actual driver. Taxi drivers are not required to carry intoxicated passengers.
Public transport (buses, trains) are safe and reliable during daylight hours; however, public order offenses increase at night. Transit police regularly patrol trains. Many trains and buses video record passengers for safety purposes. Assaults on public transportation and near public transportation hubs typically increase at night. Travelers should stick to well-illuminated, populated areas and be mindful that many crimes occur on the outskirts of train stations and public transport hubs.
Australian international and domestic airports comply with International Civil Aviation Organization Standards (ICAO). All international airports are policed by the Australian Federal Police.
THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE HAS ASSESSED PERTH AS BEING A MEDIUM-THREAT LOCATION FOR TERRORIST ACTIVITY DIRECTED AT OR AFFECTING OFFICIAL GOVERNMENT INTERESTS.
Local, Regional, and International Terrorism Threats/Concerns
There have been four terrorist attacks and 12 disrupted plots in Australia since September 2014. The potential return of dozens of Australian foreign fighters continues to pose a long-term risk, while homegrown extremists targeting host-nation security forces with basic, readily-available weapons may be the greatest near-term threat. The majority of recent terrorism-related incidents appear to have been perpetrated by younger, homegrown Australians who have been influenced or inspired by ISIS over the Internet or via domestic means. Australia has repeatedly been identified by ISIS leadership as a desirable target. Active shooter incidents continue to be of high concern to Australian law enforcement.
In response to potential threats, Australian authorities updated the National Terrorism Threat Advisory system to better inform Australians about the likelihood of a terrorist attack and to enable authorities, businesses, and individuals to take safety and security measures. The system includes five tiers, ranging from “Not Expected” to “Certain.” The current terrorism threat advisory level is “Probable,” signifying that while there is no information regarding a specific, credible plot, individuals/groups have developed both the intent and capability to conduct a terrorist attack in Australia.
Current guidance suggests that those with travel or operations in Australia should go about their daily activities as usual, while exercising caution and remaining aware of events immediately around them. Individuals who see suspicious or unusual activity should contact Australia’s National Security Hotline at 1800 1234 00, and a life threatening situation should be reported to the police by calling 000.
In 2016, the U.S. Consulates in Perth and Melbourne experienced an increase in protest activities. Assorted protest actions included a sit-in in the lobby and displaying signs/placards. The majority of protests near U.S. diplomatic facilities are peaceful. Visits by high level U.S. dignitaries can attract various organizations to engage in protests on a variety of topics.
Political, Economic, Religious, and Ethnic Violence
THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE HAS ASSESSED PERTH AS BEING A LOW-THREAT LOCATION FOR POLITICAL VIOLENCE DIRECTED AT OR AFFECTING OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT INTERESTS.
Incidents of civil unrest are relatively uncommon in Australia. Occasionally, there are organized protests in/around the government and diplomatic enclaves; however, these are typically peaceful. Visitors should be aware that the potential for violence during protests does exist, ensure that they are familiar with their surroundings, and avoid confrontation with protestors. With ISIS-inspired terrorist attacks worldwide, there have been a number of anti-Muslim demonstrations in major Australian cities that have generally been adequately controlled by police.
Travelers should be aware of the impact any natural disaster will have on their visit. The RSO encourages Americans to follow the directions of emergency authorities, to review travel plans carefully, and to have contingencies for bush fires and flooding. Western Australia’s Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) provides regular updates during major bush fires, cyclones, and other state emergencies; travelers are encouraged to monitor their alerts online.
Australia can experience extreme weather conditions, with the warmer months having greater potential for large-scale fires. Bush fire season is November through April in the southwest and June through late-October in the northwest. These fires claim lives and cause millions of dollars in property damage.
The cyclone season runs November through April. Cyclones mainly occur in the northwest; however, they can affect weather throughout Western Australia.
There has been an increase in shark attacks in the southwest region, including beaches in Perth. While shark attacks are extremely rare, travelers should follow all lifeguard instructions.
Crocodiles exist in large numbers the northwest Kimberley region and have been known to migrate as far south as Exmouth during the summer. Travelers should avoid swimming in creeks and rivers in these areas.
Some venomous snakes are very dangerous and are most prevalent in bush areas; snakebite fatalities, however, are very rare.
Critical infrastructure is relatively stable and secure compared to most countries. Major attacks on critical infrastructure in Australia are rare. The most likely threat remains that posed by natural disasters.
Australia’s critical infrastructure protection arrangements are coordinated by the National Counter-Terrorism Committee (NCTC), a national body comprised of representatives from the commonwealth, state, and territory governments. Australia relies heavily on intelligence and information sharing for critical infrastructure protection. State and territory police meet with owners/operators of critical infrastructure, in accordance with jurisdictional arrangements, to provide information on the national and localized security threat context. Police will communicate directly with owners/operators where there is an imminent, specific threat and will coordinate the operational response accordingly. Police also gather and disseminate intelligence to relevant agencies as required.
The Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO) has emphasized that businesses are not immune from foreign government clandestine or deceptive activity. ASIO works closely with businesses to counter these types of threats. In December 2015, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology reported a massive cyber security breach, which resulted in millions of dollars in damage. Several economic espionage incidents have been reported recently, particularly targeting the resource sectors. Economic espionage occurs primarily through spear-phishing cyberattacks originating overseas.
Australia has strong counterfeiting and piracy legislation written to protect patents, trademarks, and designs. Intellectual property owners are responsible for enforcing their own rights through private proceedings. Organizations should ensure they do not infringe on the intellectual property of others.
The Australian Privacy Act 1988 is similar in content to that of the U.S Privacy Act of 1974 and places strict controls on the storage and release of information. Travelers should be mindful of where personal identification information is stored or who has access to it.
Private and public organizations must have the consent of the individual for the conduct of any background investigations. A failure to obtain an individual’s consent can result in serious prosecution. The Australian Privacy Act of 1988 requirements apply when seeking to release details to third parties. In Western Australia, only licensed security investigators may conduct background investigations for employment purposes.
Australia has an ever-growing drug user population, large international drug importation issues, local clandestine laboratory problems, and an increasing number of individuals arrested for drug trafficking. Cannabis, ecstasy, methamphetamine, and cocaine are the most commonly abused drugs in Australia. Australia is also seeing an increased use of illegal prescription drugs, performance enhancing drugs, and synthetic drugs (Kronic, Spice).
The legal drinking age is 18 in Western Australia. It is an offense to drink liquor in a motor vehicle or on any public road (except with a permit or license).
Kidnappings are extremely rare. Deprivation of liberty offenses are normally domestic or sexually-related and not linked to extortion or terrorism.
How to Handle Incidents of Police Detention or Harassment
Complaints about the improper conduct of a Western Australia police officer can be directed to Police Complaints at +61 (0) 8 9223 1000. Complaints of serious corruption can be directed to the Crime and Corruption Commission (Western Australia) at +61 (0) 8 9215 4888. Americans can also seek assistance from the U.S. Consulate.
Crime Victim Assistance
All crimes should be reported to the police for investigation and recording at 000. As this number is a call center, callers need to be prepared to provide basic information and services needed (fire, ambulance, police). The Western Australia government can provide specialist support services for victims of crime and their families. More information can be obtained from their website.
Australian police organizations are well-trained and professional. They have well-equipped emergency response teams that can mobilize and respond to any incident with short notice.
The Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO) is responsible for providing intelligence and threat assessments to relevant commonwealth government departments, the Australian Federal Police (AFP), and state/territory police.
The Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection (Australian Border Force) is the federal government agency responsible for managing the security and integrity of the border. It facilitates the movement of legitimate international travelers and goods, while protecting the safety, security, and commercial interests of Australians.
Australia generally has a high level of professional emergency medical services. Emergency medical assistance can be obtained throughout most of Australia by dialing 000. Ambulance service staffed by certified emergency medical technicians is the standard throughout most of Australia.
Medical emergencies: 000 (equivalent of 911 in Australia)
Health Direct Australia: 1800 022 222 (for general medical advice)
Poisons Information Centre: 13 11 26
Contact Information for Available Medical Services
Royal Perth Hospital
Wellington Street Perth WA 6000
Phone: (08) 9224 2244 197
To find hospitals in other locations visit: http://www.myhospitals.gov.au.
Available Air Ambulance Services
Medical air evacuation is used in remote and urban areas depending on the degree of injury. The Royal Flying Doctor Service, Western Operations, provides services to people requiring care throughout Western Australia. The service operates five bases, (Jandakot, Kalgoorlie, Meekatharra, Port Hedland, Derby) flies 15 aircraft, assists over 70,000 patients each year, and employs nearly 300 personnel. The majority of patients transferred from remote and regional areas are taken to one of the major hospitals in the Perth metropolitan area.
Recommended Insurance Posture
Australia’s Medicare system provides a subsidized health fund for Australian citizens and residents. Non-Australian travelers are not covered and are strongly encouraged to obtain travelers health insurance.
CDC Country-specific Vaccination and Health Guidance
The CDC offers additional information on vaccines and health guidance for Australia.
OSAC Country Council Information
The Perth Country Council meets three or four times a year. Those interested in attending Country Council meetings should contact PerthOSAC@state.gov or +61 (0) 8 6144-5125.
Please contact OSAC’s East Asia and Pacific team with any questions.
U.S. Consulate Location and Contact Information
Consulate Address and Hours of Operation
U.S. Consulate Perth
16 St Georges Terrace Level 4
Perth, Western Australia 6000
Hours: Mon-Fri, 0800-1700 (excluding U.S. and Australian holidays)
Consulate Contact Numbers
General Inquiries: +61-(0)8-6144-5100
Regional Security Officer: +61-(0)2-6214-5897
Consular Affairs: +61-(0)2-9373-5810
Emergencies involving U.S. Citizens: +61-(0)8-6144-5100; +61-(0)8-9476-0081 (afterhours)
OSAC Country Council Perth: +61-(0)8-6144-5125
Embassy Canberra: https://au.usembassy.gov/
Consulate Melbourne: https://au.usembassy.gov/embassy-consulates/melbourne/
Consulate Sydney: https://au.usembassy.gov/embassy-consulates/sydney/
Australia Country Information Sheet