Maximising the safety of all residents and visitors is a major priority for Brisbane City Council.

Council deliver a range of programs and services to ensure that Brisbane remains an attractive, vibrant and safe place for people of all ages to enjoy, at any time of the day or night.

One such initiative is the ‘Personal Safety Project’.

This remarkable project is sponsored by the Lord Mayor's Office and Brisbane City Council.

As a result, it is TOTALLY FREE to all residents within Council boundaries.

Below you will find information on the Personal Safety Project's:

  • Seminars and Workshops
  • Personal Safety Workbook

Both of these components have been written, designed and are delivered by SDVMA.

SDVMA are happy for organisations that are working in violence prevention to copy and paste whatever they want from this material, but ask that they kindly acknowledge the source with a link to, and also acknowledge the sponsor, Brisbane City Council.

For anyone not working in violence prevention, please ask us first; as ALL this material is written by SDVMA and any reproduction without our permission is a breach of copyright.

© Copyright SDVMA 2010.

Brisbane City Council Personal Safety Seminars and Workshops

Council understands that some people have concerns about their personal safety. These concerns can have a negative impact on lifestyle choices and decisions.

To combat these concerns, Council is offering FREE Personal Safety Seminars.

The aims of the Seminars are to:

  • increase confidence
  • improve self esteem
  • heighten awareness skills
  • teach fear management
  • teach positive conflict resolution
  • demonstrate physical and non physical self defence options
  • explore the myths and facts relating to violence
  • explain the law and self defence  

The Seminars are available to all Council residents aged 14 years and over. 

To attend a Seminar, bookings are ESSENTIAL and are made solely through  Council.

Check Council site What's on for a list of Seminars and booking details. Or book over the phone with Council on 07) 3403 8888.

Seminar facilitator

SDVMA design and deliver all Seminars and Workshops.

Separate Seminars for Women and Men

There are separate Personal Safety Seminars designed especially for women and men. 

Experience in this field has shown that having both genders in the audience at the one time, can inhibit comfort levels and can make individuals self conscious about how they look and sound. 

Seminar suitability

The Seminars cater for all individuals regardless of physical condition, range of mobility and fitness level.

For organizations whose clients have intellectual disabilites, we encourage you to book your own Seminar (that we will customize specifically for your people) and we will come to you.

Group bookings

Group Seminars can be arranged for a minimum of 25 participants.

Group bookings can be made by phoning Council on 07) 3403 8888.

Follow up Self Defence Workshops

After attending a Personal Safety Seminar, those people who are interested in learning PHYSICAL self defence techniques, will be able to participate in a follow up Self Defence Workshop.

Personal Safety Workbook

These workbooks are given free to all Seminar and Workshop participants.

General Personal Safety

Many people are concerned for their personal safety, often attempting to protect themselves by restricting, or stopping altogether, everyday activities they once enjoyed.

It is not necessary to do this. By following some very simple safety and awareness strategies – that you adapt to suit your lifestyle and personality – you can enjoy the freedom of life that you are entitled to, and can do so without fear.

Brisbane is a wonderful city to enjoy, being out and active, going for a walk in the park, shopping in the city or enjoying a coffee in a local café. To help you enjoy Brisbane’s public spaces even more, you can apply our safety strategies below, to every situation and environment where you may have a concern for your personal safety.


Research shows that most attackers, whether they are attacking someone to rob or physically assault, target their victim by the level of vulnerability they perceive and the ease in which they believe they can execute their crime.

They measure vulnerability by observing potential victims and assessing certain personal traits, for example confidence, alertness, body language or display of fear.

This means, from a proactive perspective, many attacks can be prevented simply by being - or appearing - confident, assertive and comfortable in your surroundings.

Additionally, confidence is part of what makes you feel good about who you are, it makes you less likely to restrict your lifestyle and it helps you to combat fear – all of which gives you a greater quality of life.

Here are some suggestions on increasing confidence

  • Strong body language (see next section).
  • Be selective about the media and entertainment you use. Focus on positive success stories, i.e. stories that will help you believe in yourself and your ability to self protect.
  • Have strong role models in your life, or better still, be one.
  • Read books or attend programs on self esteem, confidence and self defence.
  • Make your self-talk positive and empowering.
  • And for the times when you find it hard to be confident, remember, a good bluff can work just fine.

Body language

Eyes downcast, shoulders hunched and uneasiness showing in your step makes you look vulnerable and intimidated by the world. Be able to look people in the eye. Keep your shoulders back. Walk proud. Breathe fully. Look like you are at ease in your surroundings. This way you do not look like an easy target.

For many people this may be difficult. You may need to think about and practice your posture and presentation. Start off by doing this when you are in a relaxed environment; until you gradually build confident posture and presentation into your everday personal habits.


Assertiveness is not aggressiveness. Assertiveness means being comfortable having your own opinion, even when that opinion differs from the majority. It is having personal boundaries that you do not want crossed by others. It is being comfortable saying ‘no’ when you do not wish to do something, and being able to stand by that ‘no’ if others try to pressure you.

Practice being assertive in life’s minor confrontations, for example, challenging bad service in a shop or restaurant. That way, should someone try to pressure you into something you do not want to do, you have built up confidence and experience into your manner, stance and ability to say ‘no’.

Note for women:
Gender and cultural conditioning has taught some women to be overtly polite and passive. Of course politeness is a pleasant trait in people, one that you do not want to change in most situations. However, it does not work for you when someone is trying to pressure, coerce or force you into doing something that you do not wish to do.


Trust your instinct. Your instinct is sound. It is part of your body’s natural, genetic survival mechanism to recognise when someone is a potential threat to you. If you pick up a bad feeling from someone, or you simply feel a sensation of threat or danger, trust your instinct. You will nearly always be right. (On the off chance that you are not right, do not worry about looking foolish; there is nothing foolish about exercising caution. Better to be safe than sorry.)

Act on your instinct. If you feel threatened, remove yourself from the source of potential danger. Walk or run away. Leave the party or hotel. Enter the nearest safe house, shop or service station. Cross the road, double back, or catch up with another person. If you are unable to use any of these strategies, try to think of something else you can do to stop or minimise the impending danger.


Healthy awareness is not glancing over your shoulder as if you are expecting somebody to creep up on you, but rather, being aware in a positive manner, of what is happening around you.

Look around, take in and allow to register, the information that your environment gives you. Be aware of the people in your environment. This often allows you (if you notice behaviour that you do not like) to be in a position to walk away, or commence any other action that you believe is necessary to ensure your safety.


Often the fear of violence is far more disrupting, limiting and damaging to people, than the reality of violence.

Australia is a relatively safe place in terms of ‘stranger danger’. Brisbane particularly so. Try to keep violence in perspective, so that fear does not spoil your enjoyment when you are out and about.

Note for women:
Eighty percent of all attacks on women are perpetrated by someone known to the woman, not a stranger. Yet, it is social and public lifestyle that most women restrict.


Commit to feeling good about who you are. Commit to your safety. Learn to truly take on board that it is your fundamental right to feel safe as you go about your life. Commit to the concept that if someone deliberately, and with malice, tries to hurt you, you will do what ever is within your power to stop them – walk away, run away, negotiate, put them off, comply, or physically defend. Only you can make the decision on how best to protect yourself when facing danger; no one else is more capable of doing that than you are.

Above all, please commit to the fact that no matter what the outcome of such an event is – it was not your fault. You did the best you could do. Try to find the support you need to help you understand that, and move forward.


If I asked you, how you became good at anything that you are good at - your answer will be ‘practice’.

Awareness, confidence, assertiveness and perspective – you literally become good at them the same way.

  • Practice putting out confidence.
  • Practice picking up on what is happening around you.
  • Practice ‘people watching’. Is an individual you are looking at someone you would trust or not? Are they in a good mood or a bad mood?

Reading people is a skill you can become very good at, just ask any top salesperson

Try to practice all of the above traits when it feels safe and secure to do so. It will be easier to build up your skills in non-threatening circumstances, rather than when you are under great pressure.

The Law and Self Defence

Legally, a person who is being attacked has every right to defend himself or herself with reasonable force.

‘Reasonable force’ means using a level of equal force against the attacker in order to defend yourself against the assault, without causing death or permanent injury.

If you believe the assault may result in your death or permanent injury, then it is lawful to defend yourself with the same level of force.

The law generally does not allow you to carry anything that can be described as an offensive weapon. This includes pepper spray, spray dyes, a knife, or anything that has been especially adapted or is being carried for the purpose of self defence.

Safety Strategies

Safety strategies should not make you restrict your lifestyle or become dependent on someone else’s rules. They should be habits that you develop that make you feel confident, safe and secure in your environment.

There is no need to dwell on these strategies constantly, just periodically practice them, or run through them in your head, in much the same way you would practice a fire drill.

By staying familiar with these strategies you will be able to call on them instantly should you ever need to.


Your home is meant to be a safe haven for yourself and your family. A few simple strategies can ensure a sense of comfort and security.


  • Be familiar with which neighbours you can go to in an emergency - prior to one happening.
  • If you know your neighbours well, you could work out a reciprocal communication plan with them to let them know if you are ever in trouble.

Emergency Numbers

  • In the event of a life threatening situation (within Australia) '000' is the number to call.
  • Have emergency numbers readily available by the phone, or in the memory bank of the phone, for quick access should you ever need them.


  • Walk around your home and identify easy exits for yourself in the event of an emergency - and try them out (again, just as you would in a fire drill).
  • When answering your door, you may wish to check who is there before opening it. It is perfectly acceptable to ask to see identification, and indeed to ring the company someone is representing if you feel unsure.
  • There is no need to allow somebody to enter your home just because they ask.
  • If someone knocks on your door to use your phone and you are not comfortable with the idea, tell them where the nearest public phone is, or you could offer to make the call for them.
  • In reference to environmental security around your house, such as security doors, deadlocks, peep holes, grills, etc:
    • contact your local police station for brochures on home security
    • if you are over 60 years old, and living in Australia, contact ‘Home Assist/Secure’ in your area

Note for women:
The majority of sexual abuse/rape against women (as previously stated, 80%) is committed by an offender known to the woman.

If you are attacked in your home

If you are ever attacked and the offender is known to you, consider the following options.

  • If the abuse directed at you is from someone who lives in your home with you, please seek advice and support from the Domestic Violence Centre, or other support centres, that are listed in the referral section at the end of this information.
  • If the abuse directed at you is from someone that you know/have invited into your home (or you are in their home) you can:
    • eyeline him/her strongly and tell them to stop
    • demand that they leave
    • if they will not leave, walk out yourself or scream
    • use reasonable force to protect yourself
    • do whatever else you believe will keep you safest at the time
  • If an attack is directed at you by a stranger and he/she is inside your home, you can:
    • get out of the house. If it is possible to leave your home safely always go with this option. If you are not there - you cannot be hurt
    • ring '000' (or whatever is your police emergency number) if you are safely able to
    • make as much noise as possible to alert neighbours and scare the offender off
    • hide yourself somewhere that allows you a chance to exit once the attacker has passed you by
    • use reasonable force to protect yourself
    • do whatever else you believe will keep you safest at the time
  • If the attacker is outside your home trying to get in, you can:
    • get out of the house if possible (nearly always the best option)
    • apply any of the above strategies under ‘if the attacker is inside your home’
  • If you arrive home and there is an intruder inside your house, you can:
    • walk or drive away if you discover the intruder before entering your home
    • if you have already entered, leave the door open, stand out of the way and leave the intruder a clear chance to escape
    • if the intruder confronts you, you can run out of the house, scream, defend yourself, or do whatever else you believe at the time will keep you safest

Going on holiday

  • Securely lock your home before you leave.
  • If possible, arrange with a neighbour or friend to collect mail, otherwise contact the post office to hold it for you.
  • If possible, arrange for a neighbour or friend to look after your garden and mow the lawn.
  • Cancel deliveries (newspapers, etc).
  • Turn your telephone volume down.
  • You may wish to ask your neighbour to park their car in your driveway every now and then, to have their kids play in your front yard sometimes, or to do other such activities that would give your home a lived in look whilst you are away.
  • Have a great holiday!

Public places

Walk tall

Check the earlier sections on confidence, body language and awareness.

Standing at an ATM

When entering your PIN number try to ensure that no one is standing close enough to see the numbers you key in. If they are, you may wish to shield the PIN entry with your hand, or walk away and try the transaction later.

When you are waiting for money at an ATM, stand side on, or even turn around completely so that your back is against the wall (leaving your hand on the money slot). This allows you to be comfortably aware of your surroundings and to look less vulnerable to a potential thief.

Note for women:
Carrying your bag loosely slung over your shoulder makes it look attractive to bag snatchers. Holding the bag a little more to the front of you, with your hand firmly on it, makes it far less attractive to would-be thieves.

Consider carrying your money and credit cards separately to your handbag. For example, put them in an inside pocket, wear a money belt, or wear a small purse around your neck tucked into your clothes. It is not a good idea to carry signed withdrawal forms with your bankbook or PIN numbers, or with your ATM/bank card.

If someone does try to snatch your bag, let them have it. No matter what is in the bag, it is not worth being injured for it. Material objects are not as precious as your safety or welfare.

Intoxicating substances

Know that if you consume alcohol or drugs, your reflexes, judgement and awareness are lessened considerably. This makes you more vulnerable to personal violence. Consider alternatives:

  • Refrain from consuming intoxicating substances in certain environments.
  • Consume less.
  • Have a friend with you who will not be consuming at all.

Do not accept any alcohol from somebody that you do not know or do not trust.

Do not leave your glass (whether it is alcoholic or not) out of your safekeeping. If you do accidentally do this, do not have your drink. It is extremely easy to have your drink spiked, and you will not be able to see, smell or taste what has been put in it.

Talking to strangers

If you are approached by a stranger asking for assistance, use your judgement. If the person asking for help seems genuine and you wish to assist them – then obviously do so.

If however, the person makes you feel uncomfortable or you pick up a sense of threat from them, then firmly and confidently state that you cannot help them and keep moving.

Walking alone or in dark places

Use your common sense. If it feels safe, then go for the walk. If you do not feel safe, take an alternative path, catch a taxi, go with a friend, or consider not going for the walk.

Public transport

Transit police, guards, better lighting and more reliable transport have made travelling on Brisbane’s public transport much safer.

Add a few simple strategies of your own, and your commute should be a safe and relaxing experience.

Waiting for public transport

Wherever you are waiting for your transport, wait where you feel the most comfortable. This may mean standing with your back to the wall, or standing near other people rather than waiting on your own.

Where to sit

When you are on the transport, sit wherever you feel the most comfortable. This may mean where your back is protected, close to the driver, or close to other passengers.

Getting off at the other end

If you have to walk to your car or home from where you alight, work out prior to your return the best walking route, or the best place to park your car so that you do not feel anxious at this time.

Harassment on public transport

If you are harassed on public transport these are your options:

  • Alert the driver, guard or security person to what is happening so that it can be stopped.
  • Eyeline strongly the person who is harassing you and tell them in a definite, confident tone that you are not interested and to leave you alone.
  • Move and sit closer to other people.
  • Yell or scream loudly in a deep, aggressive tone to shock and scare off your harasser. It will also let him/her know that you are not afraid and it will alert the driver or guard.
  • If you are on a train and there is no-one else in the carriage, keep calm and get off at the next station and either inform the station master or get into another carriage where there are other passengers.
  • Or do whatever else you believe will keep you safest at the time.


Taxis are generally a very safe means of transport. Taxi drivers are thoroughly screened before they are allowed to drive a cab. However, if you are harassed when travelling in a taxi, your options are:

  • Read the driver’s fleet number out to him/her (this is each driver’s individual identification number and is displayed on the inside of the windscreen, centred, sitting just above the dashboard) and tell them to stop immediately or you will report them.
  • Alight when the driver stops at the next set of traffic lights or stop sign.
  • Or do whatever else you believe will keep you safest at the time.

Car safety

  • It is a good idea to lock your car whenever you leave it. It is now the law in Queensland that you have to do so, even if you are only leaving the car for a very short time. It is also a good idea not to leave valuable items on display in your car. You can put them under your seat, in the glovebox, or in the boot. By engaging in these strategies you make your car less attractive to steal or break into.
  • If you park your car knowing you are not going to come back to it until evening, consider where you park it, so that you will not feel anxious upon your return. For example, choose a location that will be lit in the evening, or where there will still be people around.
  • Many people feel comfortable glancing in the back seat of their car before they get in, allowing them to know that there is no-one in the car.
  • If it makes you feel safer, drive with your windows wound up and your doors locked.
  • If someone tries to get into your car when you stop at a traffic light or stop sign, put your hand on the horn and leave it there. It suggests to other motorists that there has been a car accident, which is one of the few times when other people will nearly always come to your aid.
  • If you are followed when driving your car, drive into the nearest place where there are people (a petrol station, convenience/late night store, etc) and call the police.
  • If you are involved in a road rage incident (a driver losing their temper with you) try to stay calm, do not communicate with the aggressor in any way, and drive to the nearest safe place such as a petrol station or convenience/late night store and call the police.


Spend some time developing healthy personal safety habits. How you walk. How you carry your bag. Being aware of people around you. The way you talk with people. Do this until you feel that you are not an easy target in your appearance or behaviour.

Periodically give some thought to what your options are should you ever face personal threat or danger.

Decide which options best suit you, and then go over them every now and then in your head to make sure you have committed them to memory.

Use this information as a starting point. Talk to others. If you think it might be useful and/or fun, why not participate in a Self Defence program.

Sift through all the information you have collected and decide on which strategies and skills work best for you.

By developing your own personal safety habits in this way, and thinking about your options occasionally, they will become familiar to you. This will allow you to be more confident and effective should you ever have to use your strategies to ensure your safety.

Base your personal safety habits on your sense of comfort and security - if it feels safe to you, then enjoy your freedom to choose what you do, and how and when you do it.

And lastly, please remember, that only you, the person involved in the confrontation, can assess what will keep you safest at the time. No-one is capable of doing that better than you are.

Whatever you choose – you will be right!

© Copyright SDVMA 2010.

This material has been written by Suzanne Daley, SDVMA. Any reproduction of this material, in part or whole, without permission, is a breach of Copyright and will be legally pursued.

Brisbane Support Services

If you are looking for assistance, then try these organizations/phone numbers below.

Also see our LINKS page.

Brisbane Rape and Incest
Survivors Support Centre

(Services for women)                  

3391 0004

Brisbane Sexual Assault Service
(24 hour crisis service)

3636 5206

Crime Stoppers

1800 333 000

DV Connect

1800 811 811

Emergency Services


Immigrant Women’s Support Service
(Domestic violence)
(Sexual assault)

3846 3490
3846 5400


13 11 14

Mensline Australia
(For men with family and relationship concerns)

1300 789 978

Mensline Queensland
(Counselling for men regarding domestic and family violence)

1800 600 636


3849 1488

Helping Victims of Crime

1300 733 777

Women’s’ Infolink

3224 2211