Escape. Hide. Tell.

In an attack, what you do matters.

Although Australia is a safe country, we are still at risk from terrorist attacks.

In the unlikely event you are facing an attacker armed with a gun, knife or similar weapon, it is important to be prepared to react quickly.

You need to remember three words: ESCAPE. HIDE. TELL.

  • ESCAPE – move quickly and quietly away from danger, but only if it is safe to do so.
  • HIDE – stay out of sight and silence your mobile phone.
  • TELL– call the police by dialling Triple Zero (000) when it is safe.

All situations are different. You will need to make quick decisions during an attack and be prepared to change your plan. Remembering the ESCAPE. HIDE. TELL principles will help in deciding what to do.

For instance, you may have to hide before you have the opportunity to escape.  In some situations, you may still need to hide once you have escaped the immediate area.


  • Be aware of your surroundings. If you see a commotion, hear screams, gunfire or loud noises, try to identify where it is coming from. If you think it is dangerous, consider what you can to do to stay safe.
  • If you see a safe route, ESCAPE and leave the area immediately.
  • Take your mobile phone with you if you can, but do not go back to get it if it puts you in danger.
  • Leave your other belongings behind.
  • Encourage others to go with you, but don’t let their hesitation slow you down.
  • Try to stop others from entering the area, but only if it doesn’t put you in any danger.


  • If you are unable to escape, or are unsure if it’s safe to do so, HIDE.
  • Silence your mobile phone and other devices and turn off vibrate.
  • Secure your environment by locking doors and windows and barricading entries.
  • Move away from doors and be as quiet and still as possible so you do not give away your hiding place.
  • Be aware of your exits.
  • A safe hiding spot in an armed offender situation is one that puts a sturdy physical barrier between yourself and the offender.
  • Constantly review the situation and your options based on your surroundings.
  • If you come across any injured people while hiding, providing first aid may help save their lives. But only help if it does not put yourself and others at risk.
  • Do not move closer to see what is happening—this may put you at risk.
  • Only as a last resort consider looking for something you can use to defend yourself if you are found by the offender.


  • When it is safe to do so, TELL.
  • Call the police by dialling Triple Zero (000). But never at the risk of your own safety or the safety of others.
  • The more information you can give about your location, surroundings, the attackers and the events that have occurred, the better.
  • You may be asked to stay on the line and provide further information that the operator requests or if the situation changes.
  • If it is safe to do so, think about obtaining the following information:
    • exact location of the incident
    • description of the offender/s and whether they are moving in any particular direction
    • details of any weapons being used
    • number of people in the area and any that have been injured
    • the motive or intent of the offender/s (if known or apparent)

Attacks involving explosions, chemicals or vehicles

Attacks involving weapons such as guns or knives are one of the most common types of attack and under these circumstances – Escape, Hide, Tell is the best advice to follow.
However, you may find yourself in an attack involving an improvised explosive device, chemical weapons or a vehicle. In these circumstances you may need to consider different actions.

Police Response

When police arrive, follow their instructions.

Their first priority will be to deal with the immediate threat to prevent further injury. This may take time.

It is important to remember:

  • upon arriving at the scene, it is possible police officers may initially not be able to distinguish you from the offender/s
  • one of their priority actions will be to locate the offender—which means they may move past people that need help
  • police officers will be armed and could point guns in your direction
  • police may treat you firmly
  • avoid quick movements or shouting and keep your hands visible
  • police may initially move past you in search of the offender/s
  • stay where you are hiding until police tell you it is safe to evacuate
  • be aware that police may enter your location at some stage to secure the building and locate people who have hidden from the threat
  • promptly follow any instructions given by emergency responders

You will be evacuated when it is safe to leave the area.

Training materials for businesses

Training materials have been developed for businesses and owners and operators of crowded places to educate their staff in more detail on what to do in the event of an attack. This should form part of standard emergency training.