Why You’re Not Allowed To Carry A Pocket Knife In Australia

Let’s find out if it’s legal to carry a pocket knife in Australia.
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Australia has rather strict limitations when it comes to owning self-defense weapons. We’ve certainly got strict gun laws. But what about a small knife? Is it legal to carry a pocket knife in Australia for self-defense? Let’s find out.

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Is It Legal To Carry A Pocket Knife In Australia?

In most states – including New South Wales, Victoria, Northern Territory, and South Australia – it is illegal to carry a weapon, even for self-defense. This includes knives, which states consider dangerous articles or prohibited weapons.

According to Victoria’s Legal Aid website, “The law says you can’t carry, possess or use a weapon to hurt people or to defend yourself. If the police believe you are illegally carrying a weapon, they can search you and your car without a warrant. If they find a weapon, they can take it from you”.

A man holding a pen knife against a black background
(Credit: Getty)

States With Exceptions 

Knife laws in Australia vary from state to state. For example, in Queensland, you’re allowed to use a Swiss army knife for utility purposes. Meanwhile, in Western Australia, there’s such a thing as a “lawful excuse” for carrying a weapon.

Now, what is a “lawful excuse”? You can have a knife out if it’s a requirement for work (say, you’re a chef or an artist), or if you use it purely for entertainment.

A collection of knives organised neatly
(Credit: Getty)

Are There Certain Types Of Knives That Are Permitted? 

The Australian Police list many prohibited weapons on their website. These include, but are not limited to:

Clasp Knife, Folding Knife, Or Flick Knife 

The Australian Police define these as “a blade which opens automatically by gravity or centrifugal force or by any pressure applied to a button, spring or device in or attached to the handle of the knife.

Pen Knife, Or Any Concealed Knife 

The Australian Police define these as “any article or device that: a) due to its appearance is capable of being mistaken for something else that is not a weapon, and b) disguises and conceals within it a single-edged or multi-edged blade or spike of any length or of any material.

Sheath Knife

The Australian Police define these as “a knife which has a sheath which withdraws into its handle by gravity or centrifugal force or if pressure is applied to a button, spring or device attached to or forming part of the sheath, handle or blade of the knife”.

Knives similar to sheath knives are karambits, opinels, and the stiletto knife.

Interestingly, the site doesn’t mention prohibitions on swords.

Why Is Australia So Tough With Knife Laws?

Sadly, knife crimes have ballooned in the past 20 years. Between the years 2000 and 2008, homicides committed using knives increased by 13 percent. This is the reason why the Australian government is steadfast in its belief of classifying most types of knives as prohibited weapons.

A woman hitting a man using martial arts
(Credit: Getty)

How Can I Protect Myself Without A Weapon?

Okay, so you can’t carry a pocket knife under Australian laws – how then can you protect yourself against attackers? One of the best things you can do to defend yourself is to learn martial arts or hand-to-hand combat. Here are some martial arts that can help you fight back:

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

BJJ involves tackling and grappling your opponent to the ground. It’s one of the best forms of self-defense because it teaches techniques that allow even much smaller participants to defend themselves against larger opponents.

Krav Maga 

Krav Maga is the Hebrew word for “battle contact”. Developed by the Israeli Defense Force, this martial art teaches its students how to disarm attackers by hitting their most vulnerable body parts. 

Muay Thai

Muay Thai or kickboxing is all about standing your ground and delivering powerful blows to your opponent. Aside from crushing strikes, Muay Thai also teaches its students how to throw opponents down.


While it may seem frustrating for those who wish to arm themselves for self-defense, strict knife laws protect everyone in the long run. And considering how stringent these weapons laws are, it would make more sense for anyone who wants to defend themselves to pick up self-defense techniques or learn martial arts instead.

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