Foreign Minister Bob Carr today warned school-leavers to be aware of risks when travelling and to take out travel insurance to avoid crippling medical expenses should a holiday go wrong.
Speaking at the launch of an Australian Government campaign on travel insurance, Senator Carr said schoolies expected to book holidays to destinations such as Bali, Fiji, Thailand and Vanuatu could be naïve about laws and health risks overseas.
"The message to schoolies this summer is to have fun but stay alert," Senator Carr said.
"Last summer our Consulate in Bali dealt with 41 cases involving Australians under 25, including 14 arrests, seven hospitalisations and one sexual assault.
"Of the arrests, 11 were for assault, one was for drugs and two for theft.
"That's 41 young Australians whose summer holidays turned to disaster."
Senator Carr said schoolies travelling overseas should follow four simple rules:
- Stick to your alcohol limit
- If you do drink, beware of drink spiking;
- Stay in a group; and
- Walk away from fights and arguments.
"Many countries also have stricter laws than Australia on drugs, drunkenness and fighting," Senator Carr said.
"Consular staff can visit you in jail, but they can't be your lawyer. We can't suspend the laws of the country you're in and start applying Australian law.
"Few countries provide legal aid for foreigners and the cost of fighting cases overseas can be closer to a home loan than a HECS debt."
The Department of Foreign Affairs offers travel advice for schoolies at http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/TravelBulletins/Schoolies_2012.
- Minister's office: (02) 6277 7584
- DFAT Media Liaison: (02) 6261 1555