Travel health, safety and security
Advice about maintaining your health and wellbeing while you are studying overseas.
Changes in air quality, elevation, diet, climate and geography/topography as well as stress factors related to culture shock can exacerbate symptoms of pre-existing health conditions.
If you are receiving treatment for a chronic health condition (e.g. anxiety, depression, eating disorder, Crohn’s disease, diabetes, etc.), you should organise a time to discuss your travel plans with your doctor(s). You will want to discuss how to manage your condition from overseas, availability of medications (including learning the names under which it might be sold), and a contingency plan if you experience complications with your condition. You should also check the legality of your medications in the country(ies) you will be travelling to and whether you may need to switch to an alternative before you go. For example, medications containing codeine, or medications used to treat ADHD are banned in some countries.
As part of your Monash Abroad application, you will be asked whether you have any pre-existing health or mental health conditions. This information is used by Monash Abroad coordinators and Activity Leaders* to determine what additional support you may require so you are encouraged to disclose this information. They will share a health and wellbeing template to help support you and the Activity Leader manage your condition.
COVID-19 concerns: If you have a pre-existing health condition, we recommend that you consult with the Department of Health and Human Services advice about COVID-19 symptoms and how to mitigate the risks of infection.
*Activity Leaders lead a group of students on an overseas program. They are usually Monash staff or representatives who have designed the program and have pastoral care responsibilities.
When travelling overseas, you may be at risk of contracting a disease or exacerbating pre-existing medical conditions. Smartraveller has advice for maintaining your health while overseas including information on vaccinations and how to research the health risks in your destination(s).
You should make an appointment to see your doctor at least three months before you leave home, to get:
- any immunisations you may need;
- a letter from your doctor that describes all of your medical conditions and the medication prescribed;
- details about the availability of these medications in your host country;
- an adequate supply of prescriptions for the medications you'll need while away; and
- information about personal health risks like susceptibility to infection or medications that should be avoided.
Additionally, check whether there are any limits on the amount of medication you can take with you, as some countries will only permit you to bring three months’ supply. Smartraveller has further advice on this.
If you have dietary restrictions or preferences you should take care to disclose them in the Monash Abroad Portal when asked. These details will also be communicated to travel service providers when making flight arrangements or group meal arrangements (for group travel programs such as Global Study Tours, the Global Immersion Guarantee, etc). We recommend bringing healthy snacks that sustain energy and meet your dietary needs, particularly if your diet has multiple restrictions.
If you have severe allergies, you should speak to your doctor about your travel plans and how to respond if you are exposed to an allergen. Some Activity Leaders have first aid training, but not all, so if you plan to bring an EpiPen with you on the program, you should discuss how it will be administered if you are exposed to or ingest an allergen. You should also consider creating a translation card in the host country language to present to restaurant staff. See more information on the Allergy and Anaphylaxis Australia website (which includes “Chef Cards”).
Monash University supports all students in studying overseas. If you are interested in studying overseas and would like to know more about what allowances can be made for you, please contact your relevant International Education Coordinator, and organise a time to meet with Disability Support Services to discuss your overseas study plans.
Advice about your personal safety and making informed decisions while studying overseas.
Monash University's plans for gradually reinstating international travel can be found on the University's COVID-19 factsheet. Student mobility programs will recommence to approved locations in mid-2022 and any individual travel requests are subject to enhanced approvals. If you have applied for a Monash Abroad program, DFAT Smartraveller has excellent step-by-step advice for planning your travel during COVID-19.
Working with a reputable travel management company (TMC) to make bookings is recommended as they can ensure you are getting a quality service at a fair price, which both protects your safety and your investment in your travel experience. If you are in a situation where your travel plans change, they can assist with resolving changes with airlines and hotels efficiently. If you would like advice about how to choose a reputable travel management company, please contact your International Education Coordinator.
COVID-19 safety advice: Speak to your TMC about their COVID-19 change/cancellation policy. The TMC or airline might be offering customer protection plans for COVID-19 related changes that could fill some gaps in the cover not offered with travel insurance.
A condition of your Student Travel Insurance is that you have booked a return flight to and from a Monash campus location (e.g. Australia or Malaysia). If you do not book a return flight and you need to return to Australia/Malaysia, you will not be able to make a claim for that flight. We also strongly recommend booking a flexible fare, particularly if you are making travel arrangements many months prior to the program start date.
Depending upon the program type, your accommodation arrangements will be made in different ways:
- Semester exchange/study abroad: the host institution should provide advice about reputable accommodation options but please be aware that the level of support provided can vary between institutions. Sometimes you are required to live on-campus, other times you might need to make arrangements with a private accommodation provider and will be expected to organise this independently without assistance from your host institution or IEC
- Global Study Tours: the Activity Leader or academic will make arrangements for the entire group which will be included in the program fee.
- Prato Centre programs: students are required to stay in Prato Centre approved accommodation located in Prato for the duration of the program. You will be provided advice about how to book the accommodation when you apply for the program.
- Monash University Malaysia: Intercampus program students will stay in the Sunway Monash Residence and many short-term programs to Malaysia can be accommodated there as well.
On a Global Study Tour where the host country permits, Monash Activity Leaders are encouraged to practice gender-inclusive roommate practices allowing any two people to share a room regardless of gender. You will be given the choice to opt-out to ensure you are placed with another student of the same gender. In situations where the host country prohibits non-married individuals of different sexes sharing a room, you will be automatically placed in a room with a student of the same gender.
If you are booking accommodation independently, be sure you thoroughly review tenancy agreements and terms and conditions of the accommodation provider (particularly termination clauses and notice periods). The host institution and Monash University are unable to resolve any conflicts between you and your provider/landlord.
Recommendations for booking accommodation through a third party service:
- Read at least a dozen reviews of the property from reputable third party sites. Be cautious of fictitious hosts or guests - exchange students are often popular targets for scams, so you should always view the property in person before making any financial or legal commitments to a lease.
- Try to stay only in properties with 5-10 star user-ratings or are hosted by a “super host”.
- Communicate with the host only through the third party app or website. If there are concerns about the host or property, the third party can only resolve them where they are communicated through the app.
- Do a thorough safety assessment/walk-through when you arrive and take note of any significant safety or wellbeing concerns (e.g. no fire extinguisher, exposed wires, balcony security).
The Student Acknowledgement of Conditions (AoC), which you sign as part of your Monash Abroad application, details our expectations of you. Below are overarching principles relating to conduct contained in the AoC.
- abide by the laws and customs of the host country;
- take all reasonable direction given to you by a Monash staff member, partner institution or host organisation involved in the program; and
- not engage in any behaviour that is violent, aggressive, abusive or discriminatory.
If you breach the Monash Student Charter or pose a risk to the health and safety of yourself or others, the Activity Leader and/or Monash University representative can terminate your participation in the program and remove you from the program immediately. You will be responsible for any additional costs associated with your termination (e.g. cancellation fees, additional travel bookings/amendments, tuition fees etc). You will also be subject to General Misconduct proceedings.
Where it appears that you may have breached a law in the host country, the Activity Leader or Monash representative liaise with the Safer Community Unit and local partners for advice. If you are accused of or convicted of a crime in the host country, Monash University and the Australian Government are unable to intervene or influence any proceedings of the host country. Smartraveller has advice for Staying within the Law.
Australian lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer students preparing to go on exchange should be aware that social attitudes towards LGBTQIA+ around the world can be very different from those in Australia. It is strongly recommended that you prepare well and read up about your destination before you go, particularly if you are planning an exchange to a more socially conservative country. With careful planning and research, LGBTQIA+ students can have a very successful and rewarding overseas study experience.
When deciding on which program might be best for you, talk to one of the Monash Abroad advisors about potential host countries or universities. Laws or attitudes towards the LGBTQIA+ community can create potential risks for exchange or study abroad. You might also find other sources of information to be useful such as online resources, guidebooks, government resources, and local/international LGBTQIA+ organisations.
Some questions you might consider:
- What are the laws like regarding LGBTQIA+ in my host country?
- What are the cultural attitudes towards LGBTQIA+ in my host country?
- How open can I be about my sexuality/gender identity with my teachers, friends and others?
- What resources are available at my host institution? Do they have LGBTQIA+ support programs or student groups?
- Are there any LGBTQIA+-friendly establishments nearby?
Monash Abroad recommends that you learn as much as you can about the laws of your host country and other countries you intend to visit. Remember that you must obey the local laws while overseas.
A woman travelling on her own may encounter more difficulties than a man by himself. Relations between men and women and the position of genders within society differ significantly around the world. Not all countries value the concept of gender equality and these views may challenge your own perceptions of gender. Be prepared for varying opinions.
To avoid hassles, be flexible, try to fit in and understand the role of the sexes in the culture in which you are travelling. Flexibility means observing how the host country's women dress and behave, and following their example. What may be appropriate or friendly behaviour in Australia may bring you unwanted, even dangerous, attention in another culture. The Women's Travel Portal gives links to various resources about how women travelling solo can stay safe while overseas. Smartraveller also has advice for women travellers.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), Smartraveller provides up-to-date travel advice (to which you can subscribe), and is the primary source Monash University uses to determine whether travel to a location is permitted. You should make it a priority to read the advice for all countries you will travel to or transit through. You will need special permission from the University to travel on university business to a country or region if the DFAT advice is:
- “Reconsider your need to travel” (Level 3) for the country(ies)/region(s) you are going to, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Global Engagement) will decide whether it is safe for you to travel to or remain in that country/region. Your program may be cancelled and travel approval rescinded and, if instructed, you must depart the country/region immediately at your own expense.
- “Do not travel” (Level 4) for the country(ies)/region(s) you are going to, your program will be cancelled and travel approval rescinded and you must depart the country/region immediately at your own expense. If you must evacuate immediately, please liaise with Emergency Assistance Provider to arrange your travel.
If you're a non-Australian citizen you should consult your home country's foreign affairs department to check for travel warnings. The UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office and the US State Department Travel Warnings are also good information resources.
In the event Monash cancels your program before it commences on the basis of travel advice, you may be required to refund your Monash Abroad Travel Grant (if applicable).
AlertTraveler is a mobile app that provides you country and city intelligence based on your pre-loaded travel itinerary and GPS location to assist you in making informed decisions while travelling. You also have the ability to message Monash Abroad staff through the app and “check-in” in the event of an emergency. Monash Abroad provides this service to you for free through the Monash Abroad Portal (MAP).
Once you have “committed” to a Monash Abroad program in MAP, you will be prompted to download the AlertTraveler app and activate your account. For most programs you will be required to activate your account in order to receive your Monash Abroad Travel Grant.
We recommend reading the AlertTraveler user guide to learn more about how to download it, receive alerts and manage your subscription.
While the DFAT Smartraveller advisories are the primary guide for determining restricted travel locations, Monash University can restrict Monash-affiliated travel to other destinations it deems unsafe, or set further requirements in order to travel to other restricted locations.
If you wish to request to travel to a restricted location (usually DFAT level 3 or level 4), you may be eligible to complete a "Student Petition to Travel to a Restricted Location". Contact your International Education Coordinator to determine if you are eligible to complete the petition.
For staff planning student group travel (study tours, field trips) to a restricted location, please contact the Project Manager, Learning Abroad (Risk and Safety). Staff will require permission from the Deputy-Vice Chancellor (Global Engagement) by submitting a request to the Program Risk Assessment Panel.
The Program Risk Assessment Panel was formed in 2020 in response to the dynamic global situation in order to evaluate international programs and support them to proceed safely and with institutional support. It is comprised of staff members from the following Monash areas:
- Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Global Engagement)
- Global Security and Crisis Response
- Insurance Services
- Risk and Compliance Unit
- Prato Centre
- Office of the General Counsel
Requests to review travel to a restricted location should be made at least six (6) weeks prior to the program start date.
Note: Where travel has been approved by the Panel, at any time prior to or during travel, the DVC (GE) or Panel can recommend to reassess or reverse the travel permission when health or safety concerns emerge shortly before a program begins or while it is in progress.
For independent staff travel (e.g. research, conferences, business development etc.), contact Director, Global Security and Crisis Response.