Terrorism remains a threat to Australians living and travelling overseas. Many terrorist groups have demonstrated the intent and capability to undertake attacks, including against Australian interests.
This page provides information about:
- what to do if there's been a terrorist attack
- how the Australian Government can help you overseas
- assistance and support when you return to Australia
This page is for Australians overseas who have experienced a terrorist incident in their location. If you're looking for information about staying safe and avoiding problems, see our general information and advice on terrorism worldwide.
What to do if there's a terrorist attack
1. Get to safety
If there's a terrorist attack or incident, leave the immediate area as soon as it's safe. If the incident isn't in your immediate vicinity, avoid the area where it happened.
The Australian Government can't guarantee your safety and security in another country.
2. Get medical assistance
If you've been injured after a terrorist incident, get to a hospital quickly. You may need emergency medical assistance.
- You may need to pay for treatment upfront, or hand over your travel insurance details, before the hospital will treat you.
- If you don't have travel insurance, you may need to contact your family or friends back home for money.
- If you need emergency or crisis counselling, contact Lifeline in Australia.
If you need help finding a doctor or hospital where English is spoken, contact the nearest Australian embassy or consulate. Consular officers can give you a list of local hospitals and health professionals where English is spoken.
3. Contact your family and friends
Let your family and friends know you're safe. If they've heard about the incident from the media, they may fear for your safety.
4. Stay informed
Stay informed. The attack may not be over yet. Assume the threat still exists until local authorities confirm it's over.
- Check media and social media for new threats.
- Take official warnings seriously.
- Follow the instructions of local authorities, unless we advise you not to.
If you subscribed to Smartraveller, check your emails regularly. We'll send an email alert when we update the travel advice or advice level. You may also receive an SMS for critical alerts if you have opted to receive them.
5. Stay vigilant
If there's still an active terrorist threat, be aware in places known to be possible targets. This can include:
- public transport
- shopping areas
- places of worship
- sporting venues
- airports and other transport hubs
- places foreigners visit
If you do go out in public, report any suspicious activities or items to police. Contact details for police are in the 'Contacts' section of each destination's travel advice.
6. Decide if you'll stay in the country
It's your choice whether or not you stay in the country after a terrorist attack. The Australian Government can't make you leave. However the government where the attack took place can.
Be aware that if you decide to stay, we may not be able to help you.
How the Australian Government can help overseas
The Australian Government is limited in how and when it can help Australians. It's important to understand our limits. You also need to know what help and support you'll need to ask your family or travel insurer for after an incident.
To contact the Australian Government in an emergency:
- Contact the nearest Australian embassy, high commission or consulate
- Phone the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre in Canberra on +61 2 6261 3305 from overseas.
Read the Consular Services Charter for what the Australian Government can and can’t do to help you overseas.
What we can do
- We can provide emergency consular support.
- We can support you to get medical help by providing a list of local hospitals with doctors who speak English.
- We can contact your relatives or friends, with your consent.
- We can help you access local support and counselling services, where available.
- We can transfer you to an Australian counselling service, including Lifeline.
What we can't do
- We can't guarantee your safety and security in another country.
- We can't give you legal or medical advice.
- We can't make decisions for you, or make you leave a country.
- We can't make your travel arrangements.
- We can't force local authorities to act.
Assistance when you return to Australia
Department of Human Services support
The Department of Human Services may provide a payment for Australian victims of terrorism overseas. This is a one-off payment if you suffer harm from a declared overseas terrorist act. You may be eligible for this payment if you:
- were an Australian resident on the day the declared overseas terrorist act occurred and you were living permanently in Australia
- and your close family members were not involved in the commission of the declared overseas terrorist act
- were in the place and were harmed as a direct result of the declared overseas terrorist act, or
- are the close family member of a person who was in the place and who died as a direct result of a declared overseas terrorist act
See the Australian Victim of Terrorism Overseas Payment page for more information. Also see the Department of Human Services information about its crisis and special help services.
Crisis counselling and support
If you're a victim of a terrorist attack and need crisis counselling when you return to Australia, get help immediately.
- Contact the Lifeline 24-hour hotline on 13 11 44. Lifeline provides 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention services.
- Contact the beyondblue 24-hour hotline on 1300 22 4636. All calls are one-on-one with a trained mental health professional.
The Department of Health publishes more information on mental health support. See healthdirect's information about where to get help, including their list of helplines and services.
- Our travel advice for information on safety and security.
- Subscribe to travel advice. We'll email you when we update the travel advice or advice level.
- For more information about travel advice, see travel advice explained.
- Read the Consular Services Charter for what the Australian Government can and can’t do for Australians overseas.
- For information about staying safe and avoiding terrorist incidents, see our general information and advice on terrorism worldwide.
- See more about listed terrorist organisations (National Security, Australian Government)
- Learn about the payment for Australian victims of terrorism overseas (Department of Human Services)
- Read the Annual Terrorism Report for trends in terrorist attacks (US State Department)