An Australian woman has revealed how she was left for dead with massive head wounds on a Bali roadside, amid fears of growing violence against Australian tourists in the country.
Official statistics show 31 Australians died in Bali in the past year, but what is less well reported is the number who have been assaulted and injured.
Maria was attacked in March while on a morning jog near her resort accommodation in Seminyak, on the outskirts of Kuta.
There has been no police investigation into her incident.
“I don’t know what happened to me. I don’t know if something had come in front of me, if something had come beside me or behind me,” she said.
“I blacked out. I was apparently unconscious. I don’t know how long for. I woke up and I looked down and I could see blood down the front of me.”
Maria arrived at the Bali medical clinic in Seminyak – lapsing in and out of consciousness – and says staff could not tell her what had happened or how she had got there.
“I was lying flat with my head down on a bed,” she said.
“I was looking from side to side wondering who were these people. I remember clearly saying: Who are you? Where am I? What has happened to me?”
She was transferred to Kasih Ibu General Hospital in Denpasar.
Despite having a massive open wound measuring five centimetres by two centimetres, Maria was discharged the next day.
The doctors declared her injuries were from fainting and said she was fit to fly home.
“I couldn’t even walk. I was just shocked that I was released in that state,” she said.
Once back in Australia, Maria was so ill that her GP sent her for more scans, which revealed she had a fractured skull and should never have been allowed on a plane.
“He looked at me and said, ‘From your injuries that we have picked up, it is not from jogging or fainting like the paperwork from Bali has stated’,” she said.
“He said, ‘I think you have been hit from behind by something or someone. You are very, very lucky to be alive’.”
Maria expects she will never know what happened.
“How many other people have had this sort of thing happen to them? I have got a lot of questions and I just want answers,” she said.
Maria’s incident is the latest in a series of reports of violent crimes against Australians in Bali.
On average an Australian dies in Bali every 12 days from illness, accident, suicide or unknown causes, according to statistics from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFAT).
DFAT declined a request for an interview, but a spokesperson said there was “nothing to suggest that there has been a recent upward trend in the number of violent assaults in Bali”.
But expats in Bali disagree, saying many assaults simply are not reported.
Richard Flax has lived in Bali for 25 years. He is involved in the island’s emergency response group, providing assistance to travellers in trouble.
“While it does seem to be mainly Westerners and mainly girls who are being targeted, there are just as many, as we started to find out, Indonesians, so it is not necessarily race-related,” he said.
Clare McAlaney, a former Victoria police officer who has lived in Bali for 18 months, was also targeted.
She was mugged in Bali in January while riding on a motorbike with her husband.
Dragged for 20 metres, she was lucky to have escaped with only serious bruising and grazing.
“We were riding our bike at night – and that is certainly something I wouldn’t now recommend to tourists,” she said.
“To say that tourists are sitting ducks, yes. We’re living in a tourist mecca and when you’re in a place that is concentrated with a lot of tourists, itâs probably no great surprise that there would be crime that goes with that.”
Mr Flax and Ms McAlaney took witness statements from victims to the Bali police and say the authorities are taking the issue seriously.
“There is now a very strong awareness of the nature of the problem and just recently the Balinese police have put 50 top officers into this area,” Mr Flax said.
“The police don’t want this, the Balinese people don’t want this, nobody wants this.”
Bali police spokesman Hariadi says that “generally security in Bali is relatively good”.
“In the cases which often happened to foreign tourists, it was mostly conventional like pickpocket cases, or sometimes aggravated theft or with violence or armed robbery, sometimes happening during the day,” he said.