Is Australia a Safe Place to Live?

I’m often asked this question, and it’s usually attached to a city. For example, is Melbourne a safe city to live in? Or, is Sydney a safe place to live?

My answer is always pretty much the same, Australia generally speaking as a country is regarded as safe. Obviously, like any country, we do have crime here and we have crooks…

BurglaryBy and large though, it’s a safe place.

Not a very scientific answer is it? In fact without anything to back it up, it’s simply my opinion. Thanks to recently stumbling across a report that was released much earlier this year, I can now give you an answer with a little more substance.

The Safe Cities Index 2015

This is another report from the people at the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) who I have featured many times before, particularly with their ‘Livability’ reports. The last time I mentioned them, I think, was in my post called The World’s Top Five Most Liveable Countries 2014.

This report though looks at safety in 50 different cities around the world. Of those 50 cities, only two are in Australia, that’s Sydney and Melbourne. In the UK they only looked at one city; London, of course. There were five cities featured from the US, I decided to use the largest of them, New York.

So, let’s do a comparison.

Sydney and Melbourne versus London and New York

We are going to look at and compare how these four cities performed in the four categories of this report and then end up with a combined overall index.

virusCategory 1 – Digital security

We do live in a digital world, and in this category factors such as the frequency of identity theft and the dedicated cyber security teams put in place to prevent them were looked at for each city. Here are the results:

  • Of the four cities we are looking at, New York did the best, they were 3rd
  • Sydney were 14th
  • London in 16th
  • Melbourne were 20th

The most digitally secure city in the world? Tokyo.
The least digitally secure? Tehran.

healthCategory 2 – Health security

This category looked at factors such as the number of hospital beds available compared with the population and also life expectancy. Here are the results:

  • New York, again, did the best, coming 2nd
  • Melbourne were 14th
  • Sydney were 17th
  • London a lowly 22nd

Best city for health security? Zurich
Worst city for health security? Mumbai

roadsCategory 3 – Infrastructure safety

Factors such as the quality of roads and deaths from natural disasters were looked at in this category, here are the results:

  • Melbourne were in 2nd place
  • Sydney were in 3rd
  • New York the 16th
  • London were an even lower 25th

Best city for infrastructure safety? Zurich takes it again.
Worst is Ho Chi Minh City.

punchCategory 4 – Personal safety

This category looked at the levels of crime and illegal activity, police engagement and the prevalence of violent crime, here are the results:

  • Melbourne were in 8th position
  • Sydney were in 10th
  • London in 12th
  • New York a very poor 28th

Best city for personal safety? No prizes for guessing Singapore.
Worst city? Stay away from Santiago.

Now a quick bonus section.

Where is the best place to live?

The report acknowledges that this is very much down to personal choice and what each individual regards as important and less important about a city. They still manage to rank all cities though, by combining six of their reports including that livability survey, a cost of living survey, and reports on business environment, democracy and food security as well is this one on safety.

Here are the results:

  • Melbourne came top of our group in 6th place
  • Sydney were next, they came 9th
  • New York were in 13th place
  • London 22nd place again

Toronto, for those who need to know, came top.

The overall index

Finally, the overall index. By combining all reports and throwing in a little bit of life expectancy into the mix, the EIU came up with a final table. Here are the results:

  • Sydney topped our band of four, coming 6th
  • Melbourne were not far behind, they came 9th
  • Hot on their heels was New York in 10th
  • London ended up in 18th

Top of this chart was Tokyo.
Down at the very bottom, Jakarta.

I will leave you all to draw your own conclusions, but I think we can all agree on this. My totally unscientific answer stating that Australia is pretty safe isn’t far off the mark.

You can read online or download the full report, and there is so much more in it, by visiting this page: The Safe Cities Index 2015

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{ 32 comments… add one }
  • hi July 23, 2017, 2:00 pm | Link

    Melbourne and Sydney def are not the safest cities in Australia!! Who are you kidding? I have lived in Australia 30 years (born and bred here) and I have travelled all around Australia. The biggest gangs and most drugs are in Sydney and Melbourne. Western Australia and Northern Territory probably have higher home break in rates because they have a higher Aboriginal population than anywhere else in Ausm but that’s about it. However, Aboriginals will generally leave you alone if you treat them with respect on the streets and obviously like anywhere don’t walk past a huge group of them in the city at night, use your common sense. But generally the higher Aboriginal states are safe to walk around in generally. You obviously haven’t travelled much of Australia!

    • BobinOz July 24, 2017, 8:39 pm | Link

      Hi Hi

      You are absolutely right, Melbourne and Sydney are most definitely NOT the safest cities in Australia, but as far as I remember that isn’t a claim made in the above article.

      What it does clearly state is that Melbourne and Sydney were the ONLY Australian cities that were looked at in this worldwide study of a selection of 50 cities. Even though Melbourne and Sydney are not Australia’s safest, they fared extremely well against the cities around the rest of the world.

      By the way, I have travelled extensively around Australia which is why I know they are not the safest cities. Maybe you should read the article again?

  • John March 14, 2017, 7:34 pm | Link

    Hi Bob,
    I’m planning to go there and probably try to settle. What’s the usual rental prices there and what advice can you give. Much thanks!

    -John

  • Ricardo March 14, 2017, 12:30 am | Link

    To my mind, Melbourne isn’t a safe place to be any more. Back in my brief but productive stay between 2011 and 2013, the vibe in Melbourne was fantastic – communal, artsy, intelligent, progressive and most of all, safe.
    Since 2015, the media has exploded with news about serious issues with crime – home invasions (in all areas, even the affluent ones), assaults, car-jackings at a rate of 15 a week and even a riot. Capping it off was the sad event of a deranged lunatic driving through a crowded mall.
    This isn’t the Melbourne I remember. Crime reports were not about systematic or gang-related activity (except bikies, but they keep to themselves by and large). It was a place where the CBD streets would be fairly safe until the early hours, and where anyone who worked hard and reaped the rewards could be proud of their achievements. Now success is being targeted (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3704610/Founding-member-Apex-gang-terrorising-Melbourne-reveals-gang-s-guidelines-carjackings.html). Looking into it further, it isn’t just a dream I’m having, reported Melbourne crime rates have been increasing by 5% per annum, in fact, 23% from 2011 to September 2016 – https://www.crimestatistics.vic.gov.au/crime-statistics/latest-crime-data/recorded-offences-1 (that’s 133,000 more offences committed in 2016, than in 2011)
    Anecdotally, my brother-in-law, who lives and works in a hard knock area west of Melbourne, told us of gangs who he sees routinely and openly steal from supermarkets and shops, including his, and are rarely, if ever, brought to justice.
    The following is a small sample of articles about carjacking in Victoria, a previously unusual occurrence across Australia, from about August last year:
    http://www.sbs.com.au/yourlanguage/hindi/en/article/2016/08/18/thieves-steal-manik-sharmas-bmw-his-daughter-car-seat-melbournes-west
    http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/victoria/former-victoria-police-assistant-commissioner-noel-ashby-caught-up-in-attempted-carjacking-on-the-princess-freeway/news-story/c0e3c9540f3becfeaeffdacc76639c2b
    http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/second-violent-carjacking-targeting-luxury-cars-in-malvern-within-24-hours-20160621-gporra.html (states police statistics of massive increase in car theft offences since 2012)
    http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/bmw-stolen-in-violent-carjacking-seen-heading-to-melbournes-west-20170301-guo9sl.html
    http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/box-hill-south-carjacking-father-left-unconscious-critical-in-vicious-attack-20170312-guwfxw.html (dreadfully sad, and all for a 2013 Honda!!)
    http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/law-order/gang-of-men-go-on-carjacking-spree-in-melbournes-south-east/news-story/cbf8b6cb1e3e3e3c8a091e58f12712d5
    While this doesn’t mean that every Melbournite is a victim (yet), this information is worth considering, and maybe the liveability ranking will be ultimately affected. This crime wave reflects activity that Johannesburg is (in)famous for! By all means live in Melbourne – but for the time being, hide your affluence away, lock your car when you’re in it, and watch your back. Stay safe, people.

    • BobinOz March 14, 2017, 9:29 pm | Link

      I agree Ricardo, you are right to point this out. There have been quite a few disturbing stories coming out of Melbourne lately and it really does seem to have been quite a recent thing. I have also read quite a few stories in the media lately, about gangs ruling the streets, and there was a story about a mob rushing through the crowds at a music event stealing mobile phones phones.

      I’ve also read stories about people starting vigilante gangs to fight back, it’s all quite worrying. I don’t live in Melbourne, so I don’t know what it’s really like there at the moment, but if the media are saying how it really is (and they don’t always do that, after all they need to sell news stories, nothing more), then this needs to be brought under control by the Victorian police as soon as possible.

      I waould still say that Australia, by and large, is a very safe country. For it to continue that way, these gangs have to be stopped.

      As you say, people probably need to watch their backs and stay safe.

    • Mark March 15, 2017, 8:20 am | Link

      I wouldn’t agree entirely Ricardo with your points Yes the crime figures as headline news are not good reading but make for good reading for Newspaper sales. Taken over the 2011 2016 period as you have shown there are some odd figures thrown in the mix. Most crimes against the person have not altered too much. However stalking and threatening behaviour have seen a marked increase in reports, 8,943 to 12,104 in the period, it could be argued that what may have gone unrecorded in 2011 is now dealt with to combat it going any further and as such recorded. Acts endangering people are markedly up but robbery against the person is actually down 3.294 to 3,063 of course that was 2011 to 2016. In 2015 they got that figure down to 2,522 so actually whilst you was here that crime was higher and you felt it was better then. In 2016 it went up again to 3,063 so the headlines can read marked increase in robbery even though its less than 2011 2012 etc…. Property and burglary offences have remained pretty much the same with a marginal increase in theft. Drug offences have seen a marked increase mostly the use and possession of again being cracked down upon you could argue. The whole category has increased by just over 10K offences in that period. What has seen a massive increase is breaches of orders, in fact it has more than doubled. Which highlights the police are collecting the culprits and they are being dealt with but they then choose to breach sanctions imposed bringing them back before the courts on one. two. maybe three occasions skewing figures from 20,947 to 51,496 and resulting in custodial provision I imagine. As another example of bizarrely odd figures there is an area called Towong whose figures dropped markedly in 2014 to 2015 reporting period and increased again by some 60 percent the following year all I believe down to what may be argued as one family. incarcerated then released skewing figures. Yes there is a increase in several crimes and yes the media are at time really short on stories. It makes good press though.

      However your comment about car jacking at 15 a week I can find no evidence to substantiate this I feel your comment is unfounded and ludicrous, it has arguably seen an increase and certainly an increase in reporting but its difficult to gauge. CS Agency data shows that from April 2015 to March 2016 there were 171 incidents where motor vehicle thefts co-occurred with robberies, that is the nearest crime (though its being changed) that can be affiliated with car jacking. In the previous 12 months it was 95 so that equates to around 2 a week and at its new figure of 171 around 3.5 a week so wherever you read 15 from is either journalism sensationalism or just flung in. I can imagine the headline though Car hijacking soars out of control over 80 percent increase…. but that’s totally wrong. as the fact is in that number will undoubtedly be a say several property robberies where a vehicle has also been taken, maybe a warehouse robbery where a truck is also taken, or a home but that then allows the media to put it in the 177 number and say car jacking’s are increasing. No its incorrect put that way.
      It seems for the gang culture (reading the newspapers) that is in Melbourne and several of the crimes. are likely committed by possible foreign nationals or first descendants of. This would I suggest and argue for more repatriation of those ‘oicks’ This is what has it can be said happened in various parts of Europe where foreign nationals with their own values of good and bad have arrived and become a part of the society which has then suffered because of their own poorer values.

      • Ricardo March 15, 2017, 11:21 pm | Link

        Hi Bob and Mark,
        Firstly, thanks for the reply Bob, love your site! And as a broad proposition, absolutely agree that anywhere in Australia is generally a safe place to live. I’ve always felt safer in our capital cities than in Europe, say, London or Lisbon as capitals I’ve spent time in, but of course Asia feels safer still.
        Mark, I do agree that maybe the media is probably sensationalising the issue, but my primary point was that around 3 years ago, when I left Melbourne, this was not a regularly reported crime. Even if the gang hasn’t literally turned the streets into Johannesburg, it is still alarming that it’s happening with increasing frequency, rather than remaining a rarity. The rate the offences are reported at in the media, coupled with the discussion around introducing an offence of car-jacking, stiffer sentences and deportation (at least one has happened, another on foot), and vigilante groups, suggests that there is a real problem to be tackled.
        The 15 carjackings per week was from a Victorian newspaper headline, but I should have said ‘attempted’ (http://www.geelongadvertiser.com.au/news/crime-court/princes-fwy-carjackings-more-than-15-a-week-says-state-opposition/news-story/87e70a5ca9c851792fa1ca59a7aa8a42 – if this article is inaccessible, in short in December last year the opposition indicated it had such a figure from a ‘reliable source’, of gangs targeting an area in west Melbourne), but as that figure came from the Victorian opposition, it is probably dubious. If it is true, though, that’s still only 15*52=780 p.a. which isn’t too outlandish given the number of trips taken daily, and possible targets on the road at any one time.
        The increase in the Victorian crime rate might be partly down to technical breaches and greater reporting of crimes, but there was an existing mass of inter-personal and property crimes being committed, and now more of them are being committed on top of that, year to year – and crime is clearly rising faster than the population increases (given that the crime rate would be largely static as the population increases if it wasn’t). I don’t live there any more, but should find out how my friends who still live there are feeling about their safety.
        As Bob’s site provides information to persons considering a move here, it’s worth sharing what’s happening locally; there always has been crime in Australia (starting out as a penal colony, no big surprise there!) but here’s hoping that this foolish gang behaviour in Melbourne can be stamped out as quickly as it started. I’m all for deportation of non-citizen troublemakers!

        • Mark March 16, 2017, 8:01 am | Link

          I have managed to read the article Ricardo though your link takes you to a premium subscription service So I googled the headline of that and sure enough number 2 a accessible version is there…. The google bit reads ….

          CARJACKERS are trawling a major Geelong freeway for victims, … Police and State Govt refute Opposition claims of more than 15 a week … Guy claimed police were responding to about 20 attempted carjackings on the road each week. Police Minister Lisa Neville and Victoria Police refuted the claim….

          Now we have arguably just witnessed a cover up of crimes in Sweden but it does not strike me as a cover up on this stretch of road, a stretch of road I personally do not like, not because of this bit because its a boring and tiring run when I have the Sorrento ferry…
          You can almost see the journalist sensationalism and its evident in the first line The use of the word lawless suggest no law enforcement exits. They then go onto say the guy was pulled over and sped away yet no journalist in their right mind would, not describe the incident or car more. Then we happen to have a colleague from the Herald Sun also targeted at roughly the same time same area , What are the chances of that? Wow unlucky day for Herald sun staff but strangely no details not a name not a venue for the benefit of others, nothing and with the key to journalism being, Who, What, Where, When and Why not one of these is covered. Then incredibly the figure is some 20 a week not just in Melbourne but in this stretch of road so I grant you your source, my apologies but as you have alluded its wrong and Id say is plainly of lunatic proportions of exaggeration . Now they are still supposed to record attempted crimes as well as non successful so it would seem there is no basis on it its just Chinese whispers… Maybe the opposition leader who stated it has at some point said its now 25 a week.

          What I dont dispute is any crime is a concern and there has been a bad run lately Lets hope ist just that including the cretin in Bourke Street who to this day I am amazed Police didnt take the tires out when they had the chance. What really gets me about this is air support where included and had the car in sight but then not…I, like others await the coroners report as to why it amazingly lost contact.

          I also dont dispute crime is on the increase mostly by perpetrators not responding to orders is number one so thats just criminals being criminals again not relinquishing to bail, no shows and the like. I personally feel it seems likely some of the perpetrators are foreign nationals if the news reports are to be believed here but judging by names of arrested it would apper likely and as you say a deportation has ensued ….I suspect a few more will follow as two are I am told presently in the pipeline.

          You dont say where you live now and its of no matter but the streets of London Paris Amsterdam Berlin and so on have all seen marked increase in crime because of foreign nationals, even the USA has a state department file of crimes committed by what may be termed refugee foreign nationals or aliens by USA parlance

          • BobinOz March 16, 2017, 6:32 pm | Link

            Ricardo and Mark, all good points. I think we can all agree that there have most certainly been some gangs cropping up around Melbourne lately that need to be stamped out as quickly as possible. Incidentally Ricardo, I was in Tokyo for a week last year and I think that was the safest city I’ve ever been in.

            The streets remain busy way after dark, there are back alleys everywhere and miles and miles of underground tunnels, and yet I did not see a single sign of trouble anywhere from anyone. Quite remarkable. I’m not sure if that is reflected across all of Asia, but I was impressed.

            As Mark has said though, elsewhere, particularly Europe and the USA, crime does seem to be on the increase. I’d rather be here in Australia than there.

  • chuk February 19, 2017, 9:08 am | Link

    EIU . Youve got to be kidding if you take that finding serious.
    Ive lived in Spain , South Korea and Japan and can tell you all those three countries are much safer than Australia.
    I like how Barcelona comes out on top of Madrid which doesnt even appear on the list.
    Ive lived in both cities and can tell you that the only city in that country that does have a problem mainly with pick pocketing by gipsy groups is Barcelona.
    Madrid is much safer. Any Spaniard would laugh at you otherwise.
    I would put Australia in the middle concerning safety compared to other countries. I would say its safer than England or the USA.
    But I have lived in safer countries.
    I especially notice it at night. When you have alot of idiots that are drunk and become violent
    Didnt see a single fight in Spain, Japan or South Korea. And I lived there for 6 , 2 and 3 years respectively.

    • BobinOz February 19, 2017, 9:23 pm | Link

      I was in Tokyo myself last year, without doubt the safest feeling city I’ve ever been in.

    • hi July 23, 2017, 2:06 pm | Link

      WRONG. Spain is dodgy as, Australia is a loot more safer than spain. Yes I agree Japan and South Koreo are certainly safer than Aus but Spain???? I grew up in Western Australia and have travelled to all states in Australia too. I’ve been to all those countries too and i Def did not feel safe in Spain, it’s dodgy as. I felt very safe in Japan though.

      • hahaha September 29, 2017, 9:45 am | Link

        Hello hi.
        You are such an ignoramus liar its kinda funny.

  • Jaye December 28, 2016, 11:51 am | Link

    What about snakes and spiders in Melbourne homes, or apartments. I hear a lot of people get killed by snakes in the city is this true

    • Mark December 28, 2016, 12:05 pm | Link

      Im sure I read on this site about snakes deaths but cant find it now but I imagine Bob will be along to correct it but whoever told you that Jaye was being a little over exaggerating Horses are the creatures most likely to cause a human death, statistics compiled by the National Coroners Information System show. Cows are the next most dangerous, followed by dogs. Sharks are in fourth position, while crocodiles and spiders account for only slightly more deaths than emus, cats and fish.

    • Louise January 26, 2017, 12:48 pm | Link

      That is hilarious 🙂

  • Kind Godwin November 11, 2016, 7:47 pm | Link

    I would like to know about the cases of natural disasters. I love Australia as a country and i am planning to come and work, study there but i hear severe cases of water from the seas and oceans overflowing the residential areas and thus, taking lots of lives seasonally. Please, enlighten me about this and please let me know all the affected locations…Cities, states/provinces etc……….

    Please, I will highly appreciate your swift response.

    Regards,
    Kind Godwin.

    • BobinOz November 12, 2016, 12:27 am | Link

      Well, I don’t know where you get the ‘taking lots of lives seasonally’ from Kind, that just doesn’t happen. Australia is actually a very safe place and even when we do have a natural disaster, and we do sometimes, it is fortunately rare that people lose their lives.

      We get cyclones, we get bushfires, we get floods. Occasionally we get earthquakes, but so far they’ve all been quite small. I think there is a Wikipedia page that lists all of Australia’s natural disasters, you should Google it.

      But for sure, we do not have any kind of regular event that ends up with lots of lives being taken.

      I hope this response is swift enough for you 🙂

      Cheers Bob

      • Kind Godwin November 12, 2016, 1:20 am | Link

        Awww beautiful. I love Sydney and Melbourne and hope these disasters are at a zero level there.

        I thank you very much for the comprehensive update. You rock. I equally ignored USA because of the gangster life style there and wouldn’t want to raise kids in such environment.

        I hope I get a manageable job when I hit the country soonest. Thanks a million.

        K. Godwin.

        • BobinOz November 13, 2016, 11:59 pm | Link

          Ha ha, yes, ignoring the US is definitely the right thing to do 🙂

  • Paul Martin July 17, 2016, 8:05 pm | Link

    I am an Australian resident since 54, my sons are Aussies. I keep a close tab on Asia Pacific and have lived between Japan and HK for the past 8 years. The lates info I have from Australian visitors to Japan is things have gotten much worse especially violent assaults,etc. home invasions, biker wars, cost of living. There has been considerable racist problems but not all from the white community. There are muslim and indian gangs who commit many crimes including rape, robberies,etc. I spent 25 years in the US never had a problem there because there are cops everywhere and they are well trained and serve and protect UNLIKE the mega corrupt Aussie ones !

    Foreign correspondent Asia Pacific
    Radio dj SHOCKJOCK
    Writer-director

    • BobinOz July 18, 2016, 3:49 pm | Link

      Well, I can see why you are a shockjock, I suspect you make a habit of visiting other websites and posting ridiculous comments.

      The day the Australian police start acting in the same trigger-happy as the US police force, that will be the day I move back to the UK. If you really want to know what’s going on in Australia at the moment, then maybe you should move back to find out first hand instead of listening to people who visit Japan.

  • Mehul July 16, 2016, 4:56 pm | Link

    Hi, very good informative Blog, i am indian and planning to move to Australia on PR visa
    I have few questions
    How are Indians looked upon by Australians, do they face racism, are Indians treated equally for Jobs. do indian kids face racism and bullying in school
    thanks

  • unjee May 3, 2016, 9:40 pm | Link

    This is an awesome blog! I have been contemplating about our move to Australia and doing all kinds of research for that. I’m from India and will be coming either on business owners visa or niche skilled visa.
    I have lived in the USA (various cities) for about 2 decades, then lived in Europe a bit and few years in India.
    We could easily move back to the USA but the gun situation there really makes me nervous. Me and hubby have 2 kids (13, 8)
    Can you all please tell me how it will be in Australia (Sydney/ Melbourne) for an Indian family (yes brown skinned 🙂 but certainly not hardcore ‘curry people’)… we are very outdoor type, down to earth family. Love to do community service, not very religious, but more spiritual.
    Your inputs will help a lot!!
    Thanks for this awesome blog site!

    • BobinOz May 4, 2016, 11:34 pm | Link

      Thanks, glad you like my blog.

      I think you will be fine in either of those cities, I’m sure it will be very similar to Europe and the USA in terms of you being ‘brown skinned’. Australia is very much a multicultural country, we have plenty of brown skinned people here. I think you will slot in just fine.

      Of course, like every country, we do have a small minority of racists, it’s something that seems to be mandatory. If you want to read my post about it, see…

      https://www.bobinoz.com/blog/11904/is-australia-racist-racism-in-australia/

      Australia is very much a safe country, and with the gun situation, I would choose it all day long over the US. Good luck, where ever you decide to go.

  • Ricky November 30, 2015, 3:40 pm | Link

    i have been living in australia for more than 10 year and i can say that it is safe and beautiful country. cheers

    • BobinOz December 1, 2015, 9:10 pm | Link

      I agree, I’ve been here eight years, feel perfectly safe everywhere I’ve been.

    • ajeesh May 12, 2016, 11:56 am | Link

      hi brother…if you dont mind may i know your contact number?

      • BobinOz May 12, 2016, 8:05 pm | Link

        If you have any questions ajeesh, please feel free to ask them in the comments here.

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