Health and Safety
Health and safety is paramount when you are travelling to an overseas destination. You need to be prepared for emergencies, know what to watch out for, and carry a list of important emergency/hotline numbers on your mobile phone or diary. Let’s start with a crucial aspect – travel insurance.
Buy travel insurance
A visit to a Queensland medical practitioner for a health problem whilst on vacations can cost you roughly $60, not including x-ray testing or pathology reports. Costs incurred at a private hospital can be anywhere from $500 to thousands of dollars. Comprehensive travel insurance can take care of these expenses in the event of medical emergencies.
Travellers from the UK, New Zealand, Ireland, Sweden, Norway, Finland, the Netherlands, Italy and Malta can get free Medicare treatment in accordance with a reciprocal agreement with the Australian government. But this won’t cover all medical costs, and there are some restrictions imposed too. To be on the safer side, it is always better to have travel insurance. Travel insurance can also come to your aid when you need to file a claim on lost or stolen gear; this includes baggage that has not arrived with you at the airport.
What to do in emergency situations
The number to call in any medical emergency is 000; you can request for an ambulance and/or the required medical services using this number. Some of the other numbers you can note down are:
13 12 33: Non-emergency ambulance service
1800 333 00: Crime Stopper for non-urgent stolen property, lost property and break entry
13 11 26: Poisons Information Hotline that advises you on inadvertently consumed poison or medication, treatment for spider-bite, etc.
Some of the common diseases in Queensland
There is no risk of malaria in Queensland (or in Australia). But there are some diseases caused by viruses that are transmitted by mosquitoes. These are
Ross River Fever (RRF)
Murray Valley Encephalitis (MVE)
In 2011, quite a few cases of Hendra virus were also reported in Queensland. This virus is spread by flying foxes and fruit bats, and gets transmitted from horses to humans. These can cause respiratory illness, and in severe cases, death. Please visit
dpi.qld.gov.au/4790_2900.htm for more information.
You are advised to browse your government’s health travel site before visiting the Whitsundays and its neighbouring destinations. Here are some useful links:
UK (www.dh.gov.uk ) – Select ‘Policy and Guidance’ and then click on ‘Health advice for travellers’.
USA (www.cdc.gov/travel )
Canada (www.travelhealth.gc.ca )
Bandages, gauze rolls
Scissors and safety pins
Oral rehydration salts
Sexually transmitted diseases
According to the Queensland Public Health Act 2005, it is not mandatory to reveal your HIV status prior to sex, but recklessly putting anyone at risk is deemed an offence. However, if you engage in sex after voluntarily accepting the risk of contracting HIV, this won’t be treated as an offence. Travellers are advised to take the safe route and use protection when engaging in sexual activities.
Crime is not a major problem in the Whitsundays and surrounding destinations, but it is a good idea to take a few precautionary measures:
Don’t leave bags and valuables unattended in public places
Take care of your belongings when walking in busy tourist areas during the night
Be careful in pubs and bars – don’t accept drinks or food from strangers, and also don’t leave them attended.