Call For Compulsory Safety Awareness Training To Protect International Students

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3rd March 2010, 01:21pm - Views: 937

Call for Compulsory safety awareness training to protect

international students in Australia

3 March 2010

Melbourne, Victoria – Australia. Safety awareness experts today called for the Australian

Government to ensure that international students are provided with adequate personal safety

information after a spate of attacks that have endangered the lives of foreign nationals and put

at risk Australia’s reputation as an education destination.

“Community leaders, the police and educators are operating in a policy vacuum when it comes to

ensuring international students are safe living and studying in Australia,” says Dean O’Loughlin, a

longstanding community support worker who now provides personal safety training to international

students across Australia though his Personal Safety Solutions business venture.

“The absence of proper government policy to safeguard international students is producing tragic

consequences not only for students but also for Australia’s reputation as a place to study and do

business in,” he says.


spate of violent assaults on Indian students in Melbourne and Sydney has been reported in both the

Australian and Indian media over the past 12 months. Around 110,000 Indian students are now

studying in Australia, making a major contribution to the nation’s A$15.5 billion education export

market. Government reports suggests the attacks have led to a fall in enquiries for 2010 enrolments.

The Australian Government has received preliminary recommendations on international student

welfare from the Baird Report, and the Commonwealth Senate has also reported on the issue, but

experts say a more realistic approach is needed.

“The Senate recommendation that international students be provided with personal safety information

before coming to Australia simply isn’t practical,” says Mr O’Loughlin. “International education agents

in places like India and China have neither the resources nor inclination to provide safety training –

they actually have incentives to gloss over these issues in order to sign-up students.”

“We believe the government should work with education providers in Australia to deal with violence

against international students, as educators here have the best awareness of the conditions and also

have the resources to provide assistance,” he says. “This issue isn’t going to resolve itself without

government intervention – it may be Indian students today, but in the future it could be students from

other countries, such as China, Vietnam, and the Arabian states.”

The envoy sent by the Australian Government to India in November last year is also unlikely to yield

much in the way of personal safety training for prospective students, say people who help send Indian

students abroad.

“The majority of education agents in India have very little awareness of the living conditions that

international students will encounter overseas,” says Mr Akhil Shahani, who sits on the Confederation

of Indian Industry’s Higher Education Taskforce and has been facilitating international exchanges

between Indian and overseas education institutions for several years. 

“Most agents are very small operators working outside established education institutions, beyond the

reach of government regulation. Even with the best intentions, the Indian Government would find it

almost impossible to get them to train students on how to live safely overseas.”

The Senate Report’s focus on training to protect student welfare comes from the finding that many

attacks could be prevented if students had a greater safety awareness, including that many attacks

have been opportunistic robberies targeting valuables such as computer laptops. According to the

Senate Report, international students may be inadequately prepared because the National Code of

Practice leaves it to education providers to decide themselves what is ‘sufficient’ security information.

As a community worker Mr O’Loughlin has been aware of these issues for some time and in June

2009 started Personal Safety Solutions with his partner Margaret O’Loughlin, who has previously

taught international students. Theirs is the first Australian business set up to provide specialist safety

training for international students

Their results suggest that safety training provided in Australia will have a positive impact on the lives

of students here.

“Students who have attended training courses given by Personal Safety Solutions said that they feel

confident in their surroundings and much more able to avoid dangerous situations,” says Gurhan

Araci, Director of Field Placement Solutions, who organises field placements for international students

and liaises with Australian education institutions and safety trainers.

“Personal Safety Solutions offers an accredited course which is based on avoiding rather than

countering responses to violence – students are not incited to take matters into their own hands and

are given confidence in reporting issues to the police,” Mr Araci says.

“Personal safety training is a very small thing to ask of our international education system when you

consider the stakes,” adds Mr O’Loughlin. “Today’s international students will be the business and

political leaders that Australians deal with tomorrow.”

About Personal Safety Solutions

Personal Safety Solutions was launched in June 2009 and is the first Australian company to provide

specialist safety awareness training to international students that are studying or planning to study

here. The Melbourne, Victoria-based company is headed by Dean and Margaret O’Loughlin who have

strong awareness of the issues affecting international students through their backgrounds as

community support workers and teachers at Australian colleges serving foreign nationals.

The company works directly with international colleges across Australia to provide student training

and its personnel are accredited AVADE™ trainers. The AVADE safety awareness system is the

leading safety awareness training methodology in North America and has been delivered to

thousands of individuals, agencies and corporations. AVADE provides participants with the habits,

skills and actions to enhance personal safety and to avoid dangerous situations, crime and violence.

For more information, please contact:

Dean O’Loughlin

M: +61 437 870 988

Managing Director


Personal Safety Solutions Pty Ltd

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