Health in Australia

Health and Health Care in Australia
Health care and health care systems in Australia are remarkably good. All Australians have access to the public health system “Medicare” including access to doctors, hospitals and other health care services. Unless you are not resident in Australia you will have to pay for "Medicare". Therefore it is highly recommended to choose a private health insurance in addition to your health insurance at home, as most insurances do not cover treatment expenses abroad.

Medical Care:
You will find a high density of doctors and hospitals within populated areas and major cities of Australia. All Doctors and hospitals are listed in the Yellow Pages. In case of any emergency you simply have to dial 000. If you are in need of medical care while you are cruising the outback, you can rely on the "Royal Flying Doctor Service", an Australian feature. It was founded in 1928 by Reverend John Flynn to supply sparsely populated areas with medical care. Nowadays, this nonprofit organisation is operating 33 plains and 14 bases to cover the complete outback. If you are in need of medical care you should be aware of the fact that you will have to pay for any service in advance and cash. Credit cards or traveler cheques are usualy not accepted.

There are heaps of Chemists around within populated areas, operating 24/7. You will find many Australians going to a chemist instead of consulting a doctor, as Australian Chemists are well educated. Moreover, you can get most common pharmaceuticals you are accustomed to in Australia. However, you are allowed to bring your prescriptional pharmaceuticals with you. It is highly recommended to use sunscreen. The Australian norm for sunscreen is remarkably high and is considered worldwide to be very strict. As sunscreen has to be used every day, it is not as expensive as in Europe or America. You can get a 2 liter bulk pack, which quality can be compared with the quality of discounter products, for A$15.

Health Insurance:
Your ordinary health insurance will not be much of a help for your stay in Australia, as they usualy do not cover expenses abroad. Therefore it is highly recommended to cover your rear by choosing an additional private health insurance. Make sure to compare all offers as they vary in charges and benefits. As a patient you will have to pay the treatment expenses in advance and cash. Keep a good eye on the receipt as you will get your expenses recompensed by providing it to your private insurance after the return to your home contry.

Infectious Disease & Vaccinations
Special vaccinations wil not be necessary if you enter Australia from America or Central Europe in a direct way. Nevertheless, you should check your vaccination card before you start your trip, to make sure you are protected against the most common vaccinations such as:

Hepatitis A (infectious icterus)
Virus transfused worldwide by food or drinking water;
Hepatitis B (highly infectious hepatitis)
Virus transfused by bodily fluids and non-sterile acus.

If you enter Australia having a stop-over in another country, you may have to provide a vaccination certificate. Therefore it is highly recommended to check the international travel and health homepage of the World Health Organisation (WHO) for updated information on vaccinations. You will find an updated list of critical infectious disease and requiered vaccinations in the weekly epidemiological record.

Furthermore please contact your doctor at home to obtain the necessary advice for your medical obligations when entering Australia. Do not forget to include possible stopover destinations in your discussion with your doctor.

The Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing will provide you as well with updated information. General travel advice is provided by the "International Travel and Health Publication" of the WHO.

Dealing with the heat in Australia

Australia experiences very hot weather throughout the year in the northern territory. For the rest of the country, high temperatures are experienced during summer. If coming from a climate that is much cooler, it is important to keep in mind that around two weeks are required for acclimatization to take place.  Before this happens a lot of salt is lost through excessive sweating. It is therefore advisable to increase the intake of salt during this period. Following are some of the conditions that can develop owing to heat exposure.

Heat exhaustion

This happens when the intake of fluid does not keep up with rate at which it is being lost mainly through perspiration. Some of the symptoms include:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Pale skin that is cool and clammy
  • Fainting

When this happens resting in a cool shady place is recommended. Also, water or even dilute sports drinks should be taken in plenty.

Heat stroke

This is an illness caused by severe heat which causes fluid depletion. It is a real medical emergency whereby the brain is over heated making one suffer hallucinations, disorientation or even seizures. Heat stroke can be prevented by taking sufficient amounts of fluids that maintain the passing of urine that is copious and clear more so at times of physical exertion.

There have been reports of deaths related to dehydration of ill prepared travellers in outback Australia. Following some rules as stated below can prevent this.

  • Have sufficient water for every trip. Include extra just in case the vehicle breaks down.
  • Make sure that you inform someone of your trip including the expected time of arrival.
  • Carry with you some communication equipment.
  • Instead of walking to get help it is advisable to stay with your vehicle.


During winter hypothermia poses significant risk especially in the southern Australia. Strong winds are responsible for the high chill factor which can lead to hypothermia even though the temperatures are moderately cool. Early signs are characterized by:

  • Difficulty in performing fine movements like buttoning up
  • Having shivers

Treatment involves getting out of the cold and removing wet clothing if any replacing it with dry clothes that have wind and water proof layers. Insulation should be added and water with carbohydrates (glucose/sugar) should be taken so as to encourage shivering which in turn builds up internal temperature.
In cases of severe hypothermia, shivering stops. This becomes a medical emergency that requires medical attention.

Tips on protecting yourself from insect borne illnesses

Because various insects can be the carriers of specific diseases you can protect yourself from them in the following ways:

  • Putting on loose fitting long sleeved clothes.
  • Applying an insect repelling lotion on exposed skin.
  • Treating clothes with an insecticide known as permethrin which is effective in killing insects but safe for human beings.

Safety at the beach

Australia has very good locations for surfing that are mainly on the western, eastern and the southern coasts. Because beaches have different underwater conditions, conditions may change resulting in powerful surfs. It is recommended that you check with life saving groups located in a particular place before engaging in water activities. Also be aware of your own limitations in reference to swimming and surfing skills.

Skin care

One of the countries that have the highest rates of cancer of the skin is Australia. With this in mind you should pay attention to the extent to which you allow direct sunlight exposure on your skin. The greatest exposure of ultra violet rays occurs between 10am and four in the afternoon. Skin exposure should be avoided at these times. A 30+ sunscreen is effective in protecting the skin from the sun. It should be applied thirty minutes before exposure to the sun then reapplied regularly to ensure that any damage to the skin is minimal.

Things to do before traveling to Australia

Getting vaccinated before any International travel is something of utmost importance. You should visit your doctor at least one to two months before your traveling date because most of the vaccines given produce immunity at least two weeks after their administration. You should try and acquire an International Certificate of Vaccination (the yellow booklet) without which you cannot be allowed to enter countries that insist on proof of vaccination against yellow fever before you are allowed in. The booklet lists all of the vaccinations that you have received and comes in handy for travel anywhere else.

If there are any medications that you have to carry, you have to ensure that they are contained in their original containers. These containers should be clearly labeled. It would also be a wise thing for you to get a letter from your doctor detailing your condition as well as the medication that you are carrying with you. The medications should include their generic names as these are universally understood as opposed to brand names. Also a letter documenting the necessity of carrying syringes should be included if you have any syringes or needles with you. Make sure that all medical letters are dated and signed properly.

As it is important to have a medical cover while abroad ensure that you acquire additional cover if your current insurer does not have such a provision. It is very important to find out before hand if the insurance plan you have directly pays the medical providers or reimburses you at a later date for medical expenses incurred while abroad. As most doctors ask for payment during consultation both in Australia as well as in many other countries, ensure to have an itemized bill that has the details of the service given. Also the contact information of the doctor should be kept for future reference if need arises.

Dealing with some traveling sicknesses.

Deep vein Thrombosis: The Deep Vein Thrombosis or DVT as is widely known refers to the formation of blood clots in the legs. This usually happens when one remains immobilized for long periods of time during a plane flight. The risk is directly proportional to the length of flight. The longer it is the higher the risk of getting blood clots. Usually the clots are reabsorbed without a problem but at times one may suffer the misfortune of a clot breaking away and traveling to the lungs. The situation then becomes life threatening and immediate medical attention is needed.

The main symptom to look out for is the swelling of the foot or calf. This may be or may not be accompanied by pain. In fact even the presence of pain without any swelling is also regarded as a symptom. This symptoms are usually one sided but at times it may happen to both sides. If you have pain in the chest or when breathing becomes difficult you should seek for medical assistance immediately.

The best way to avoid these clots is by taking walks around the cabin every now and then when on long flights. You can also drink a lot of fluids although alcohol and cigarettes are discouraged. When seated you may try exercising by flexing the leg muscle every now and then.

Motion sickness: Motion sickness is usually a common occurrence. Most of the time, it is treated using antihistamines. The main side effect of these though is that they cause drowsiness. An alternative that works very well for some people is the ginger which is natural and rarely has side effects.

Jet lag: jet lag normally happens when five or more time zones are crossed during a flight. It can cause malaise, nausea or insomnia. The best way to avoid it is by taking a lot of fluids but not alcoholic ones. Try to expose yourself to as much sunlight as possible then change your eating and sleeping times as soon as you can when you get to your destination.

Taking care of medical costs while Australia

The health care in Australia is affordable. Even though this is so, it is always advisable to have an earlier arrangement for insurance cover. In the unfortunate event that you fall sick, accumulated bills could end up being too costly for you especially if repatriation becomes necessary.

The healthcare system in Australia is very good. There are private clinics as well as public medical facilities that get funding from the government. There are even special medical facilities for women and children which are located in the major centers.  Australians are medically covered by the Medicare system. For those visiting from countries that have an agreement with the Australian Medicare system they can benefit from this health care system. Examples of countries that have this agreement are the Netherlands, Italy, New Zealand, Sweden, Ireland, the UK, Finland and Malta. Before leaving your country check and clarify everything in regard to the type of cover you have and this can be done online.
In case you need to buy over the counter medication you can get them in one of the many privately run pharmacies. Skincare products, painkillers and antihistamines can be bought over the counter. You may come to learn however, that some over the counter medication in other countries need to be prescribed in Australia. Antibiotics, the contraceptive pill and most asthma medications fall under this category.

If you have medication that you take on a regular basis, it would be advisable to carry a sufficient supply. Also ensure that you know the generic name of the medication for easy identification of the same drug when away from home.

If you travel to the remote areas of the country there may be delays in emergency medical response getting to you. Therefore you should strive to be prepared for any eventualities. A first aid course would come in handy in such situations. Always have a first aid kit when going to places that are far away taking care to have a reliable means of communication for instance a radio communication for remote places. The Royal Flying Doctors Service avails back up service for people in remote areas.

Health Concerns

There are no major health concerns in Australia and New Zealand that you should be too worried about, even though it is regularly reported in international news bulletins about people being attacked by salt water crocs, dingoes, and other animals. Australia has all of the health facilities of your home country and fatalities by animals in the bush are quite small. Although animals that are dangerous do exist in Australia and Australia have eight of the ten deadliest snakes in the world. But don’t worry we have enough anti-venom in the country to keep you alive.
But a rule of thumb in Australia when you are unaware of the toxicity of an animal or plant is that; if it is pretty or beautiful in a unique sort of way than it is probably toxic, because it has nothing preying on it and therefore does not need to blend into the natural environment.

Here is a list of potentially deadly creatures: Salt Water Crocodile / Dingo / Eastern Brown Snake / Platypus / Red Belly Black / Sydney Funnel Web / Red Back Spider / White Tail Spider / Red Kangaroo / Cassowary / Blue Ringed Octopus / Stone Fish / Sting Ray / Great White Shark / Bull Shark / Taipan and whole bunch of others that are equally worth mentioning.

But, your chances of running into any of them are pretty slim. To give you an understanding of the threat level that any of these animals pose to you is like saying; you would not go to the USA because you are frightened of getting eaten by a Grizzly Bear. That is about the same threat level to your well being that these animals pose.


But, the most important health concern that affects Australians at the present is that brought about influenza, particularly the pandemic (H1N1) strain, known as Swine Flu. From 30/10/09 there have been 187 recorded fatalities of Swine Flu in Australia and the southern capital of Victoria (Melbourne) is the most infected area in the country. Although the disease is more common in the northern hemisphere, where many governments have developed vaccination plans to combat the condition. So, it would be wise to have the appropriate shot before you come to Australia. But, if you are in Australia and you have not had the shot and believe that you want to then contact your OSHC provider to see if it is covered under their policy with you. US based researchers have shown concern over the possibility of the (H1N1) strain mutating and becoming resistant to the anti-viral drug Oseltamivir that is used to keep the disease in check. So, this is another reason to
have the appropriate shots because the more people who are protected by the vaccine the less chance the disease has of mutating.


Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world. I doubt whether there has been an Australian family in the last 100 years that has not been affected by this disease. So, if you are auburn haired with freckles and kind of celtic looking than you are a prime target for the disease. So slip / slop / slap while you are in Australia, so you do not become a victim of this killer.

Staying Healthy In Australia

How do you stay healthy once you are in Australia?

Australian?s are some of the fattest people in the world. In fact, it has been reported that we are the fattest people in the world. Although an American friend told me he still thinks Americans have a couple of kilos on us. But, in spite of that predicament it is not hard to stay healthy in Australia.

Fresh food is in abundance and gym fees are generally cheap, with some gym chains offering memberships to travellers where they can go to any gym that is a part of their network or aligned through some other arrangement. Australia also has 24 hour gyms that tailor to those who like to work out at night. 24 hour gyms are perfect for overseas students who have a full course load while balancing the 20 hours of work per week they are allowed to do under the stipulations of their visa. So, you can maintain the 30 minutes a day of light to moderate exercise recommended by the Australian Federal Government by doing cardio on the treadmill or stationary bike, walking, biking, gardening or light aerobics quite easily.

It is not hard to maintain this light regime while you are a student in the country and most of the above exercises can be performed without you forking out a single cent. Even the outer western suburbs of most Australian cities on the east coast have adequate parkland and walking tracks that are designed for the needs of walkers in those areas. Plus it is possible to circumvent the whole 30 minutes a day thing by doing 20 min of hard exercise three days a week.

The Australian Federal Government recommends that the average person eats five serves of vegetables and two serves of fruit. This is probably a similar recommendation from the country that you come from and in all reality it is difficult to maintain, but remains a significant challenge to those who try to hold to the strictness of the recommendation.

Australia has a fair share of fast food chains, both Australian companies and international franchises, so it is easy for a busy student to get caught up in the easy meals lifestyle. Why go home and cook a meal when you can buy a burger and fries? But, there are resources at most education institutions in Australia that would help you with making culinary and culturally appropriate choices for you while you are in the country.  Australia has embraced (to a degree) its cultural diversity and it is common in most cities in Australia to see supermarkets for non Anglo Celtic Australians and specialist delicatessens that cater to international visitors.

Also, it is beneficial to think of your emotional health as well while you are at it, because you will most likely suffer some degree of ?Culture Shock?. AA Education has a webpage on ?Australia Culture Shock ?it would be wise to have a look at it and learn the symptoms and how you can deal with it effectively.

Emotional health and the assistance of friends and colleagues, and professional counsellors at the institution you are studying at is a key to having a successful stay in Australia and meeting your educational goals that you have while you are here.  

And last but not least:

The most important thing to remember while you are in Australia is to slip / slop / slap. Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world. I doubt whether there has been an Australian family in the last 100 years that has not been affected by this disease. So, if you are auburn haired with freckles and kind of Celtic looking than you are a prime target for this disease so slip / slop / slap when you are down at the beach, out walking or playing with your mates in the backyard.
Welcome to OZ!

Australia Health

In Australia you will enjoy some of the best health care in the world, but make sure you have your overseas health care before you arrive:

Keeping up a good health and health style

Taking care of yourself is very important, you know you should do exercise and physical activities.  Regular exercise is good for you and your body.

Some rules that can help you have a better night of sleep are:  

  • Try and getting out of bed when you first wake up instead of closing your eyes and staying in bed get up at the same time everyday will not only help you build a routine buy your body will get use to it and it helps with your sleep patterns, like not falling asleep every night at the same time can make it harder to not have a normal sleep pattern.
  • Do some exercise in the morning, outside while taking in fresh air, and you will energize all through the day and it will help you wake up and through out the feel just feel better.
  • Don’t nap during the day; if you do it could take you longer to fall asleep at night.
  • Don’t use the time when you are laying in bed to think about all your problems about paying the bills, about school and things to do the next day, this time is for you and your body to relax to have a good night sleep so in the morning you are well rested to face the world.  Thinking about your problems will only make your anxious.
  • Don’t go to bed to late, nor angry or with a full stomach and always remember to allow yourself at least 30 minutes ahead while you relax to fall asleep and wind down.
  • Don’t study in bed, it’ll train your brain to think of your bed as a bad place; is not a place to study but a haven to rest and sleep.
  • Avoid alcohol and cigarettes fro a few hours before bed too.

These rules were provided by the Australian government student guide and I am sure you also have your own routine that you follow that helps you stay healthy and build a strong and better life, health wise.

If you are having sleep problems, talk to a doctor they can have more helpful tips that in the end will help you get a good night’s rest.

Food and what you eat is just as important too.  Maybe you are use to just grabbing a snack when you feel the munchies, but is good to then eat at your regular hours and have fruits and vegetables when you feel you are getting healthy, is better for your body anyway.

Some tips are:

  • Don’t skip breakfast.  Eating breakfast everyday is a great way to begin your day, ‘it’s the most important meal of the day’, It kicks start your metabolism and gives you energy.
  • Include lots of water throughout the day.  Dehydration causes tiredness, lost of energy, headaches, lack of concentration and plenty of health issues.  It is recommended to drink from 6 to 8 cups of water daily.
  • Include plenty of fresh fruits and vegetable in your meals.
  • Enjoy food in a healthy way and start cutting out fast food, chips, chocolate, biscuits and soft drinks, more juice into your diet, grain rice, and whole wheat bread.

Sexual Health

Australia is a fairly liberal country, but it still means you need to be safe and protect yourself.  According to the student guide from the Australian Government  the rate of HIV and AIDS infection in Australia is quite low (about 0.1per cent of the population).

Remember women can also take contraceptive to prevent pregnancies, the pill, and the shot; however remember these methods do not prevent against STIs and other sexually transmitted disease neither does the condom that the men use.

Condoms are available for purchase in supermarkets and chemists (also known as pharmacies or drugstores) and are there to help you not become pregnant.  They are inexpensive and available to anyone who wishes to purchase them.  The contraceptive pill is available by prescription from GPs.

You always have the right to insisting that condom is to be used and if the man doesn’t practice with one you have the right to say no or you being the women can also use a condom.  Don’t let your guard down if you have been driving and you think that you make been a victim of sexual assault, or a friend was even if you are not sure but you vaguely remember contact the police or reach out to some one that can help like this Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Alcohol and other drugs

The legal age for a person to purchase cigarettes and alcohol is 18 and older.  However, if you look younger than 25 you will still be asked to show proof of your age by showing some type of photo ID card.  Buying, selling, or in possession of any types of drugs, marijuana, amphetamines and opiates, is against the law.  If you are caught you will face severe penalties, including fines, imprisonment and even deportation.


Smoking is allowed in Australia but is not recommended.  The long-term effects of smoking are well documented: cancer, heart disease, blood clogs, respiratory infections and strokes.  The short term include bad breath, smelly hair and clothes, stained fingers and teeth, it reduces physical fitness and a severe cough.  Smoking has been linked to depression and with the high cost to support a bad habit, is not really worth it.  High taxes are placed on cigarettes, making smoking a habit that sometimes can be unaffordable and can take you out of your budget.


It is ok to have a drink every now and again if you chose to but don’t go over the limit that then you cannot remember what happened and don’t turn into a bad habit.  You need to be careful, men and women with who you drink, who is giving you the drink, who is with you and don’t drink and drive, pass the keys, take a taxi, the train, a fairy there are options.  And always use the buddy system, no matter what you are going to do or with who you are is best to be with someone else that you both arrive the same time and leave the same time, be each other accomplices so that nothing happens to neither one of you, nothing dangerous.


If you are in Australia for more than a semester, chances are you will have to visit a doctor before you leave.  You can be confident that Australian doctors are highly skilled and well educated.  The environment in which you will be treated will be clean and sanitary to receive healthcare.

What kind of medical care to seek:

In Australia you should never seek help from a hospital emergency room (ER) unless you are in a life threatening situation, is not to say that you cannot visit an ER room when you feel is necessarily or life treating, but the fact is that people visit the ER even when is no
t an emergency situation and the people that do need to be treated for their condition needs to wait longer.

Most nights of the week, hospital ERs become congested by people who want treatment for a cold or minor flu, headaches and minor injuries, when the purpose of an ER is for life treating medical conditions or real emergencies, such as you have just been in a terrible car accident and need help immediately or you are pregnant and you are going into delivery and the emergency room is the closest location.

This puts a lot of stress on the doctors and nurses and puts the lives for people who are genuine need of care in jeopardy.  If people just visit their general practicing when suffering form the symptoms mentioned above and leave the emergency rooms for real emergencies it will be less hectic.

General Practitioners or better known as your GPs

They treat any medical conditions that are not life - treating, a head cold, the flu, viruses, and the general symptoms.  They can take your blood, urine samples, check your blood pressure, your height and weight, give you injections and perform minor surgeries such as stitches and the removal of moles.  They also can perform gynecological exams.  If you need to see a GP, you can find the closest ones to you in the Yellow Pages (

GPs either work in a private surgery, medical centre or with multiple GPs.  The service you get from GPs at private surgeries and medical centre are the same, doctors will be highly qualified and they will treat your case with complete confidentiality.

Some personal questions you may be asked but are important that you answer the most truthful as possible will help give the doctor a better idea if something is not right.  If you feel uncomfortable with a particular doctor, you may request to see someone else, remember they are there to help and to make sure that the issues you went in complaining about get resolved as quickly and less painful as possible.

You will need to make an appointment, GPs do not usually visit you, nor have regular contact with you outside of your scheduled appointments, unless it is an emergency situation.

The cost of visiting a doctor will usually be partly covered by OHSC, however you may have to pay the fee at the time of you doctor’s appointment and later seek reimbursement from your OHSC provider.

Private surgery/ Medical centre

You must book an appointment In advance and there is a time limit that you will need to wait.  Also keep in mind you can see the same doctor each time you visit and that doctor will already be familiar with you and your case.  It takes about another 2 weeks to set up the date for the appointment to visit the doctor again.

Special doctors

In some cases you may need to visit a specialist, like an optician, and you might first need a referal, so make sure to inform your doctor that you need to visit a specialist that way you wont be going around in circles and all your paper work will be in order.   Specialist doctors are a lot more expensive than GPs, but some of their services might be covered under you Overseas Student Health Cover plan, it’s always best to verify first or ask your institution.

Emergency room doctors

Emergency room (ER) doctors work in hospitals and treat patients with severe and life-threatening injuries or illnesses.  You can always call 000 if you or a friend needs urgent medical attention, you may be advised to go to a hospital or depending on the circumstances an ambulance will come and pick you up.  You will then receive the medical attention from ambulance staff or paramedics.

Prescription medication

Some General patricians can dispense medication differently to what you are used to.  It’s common not to receive medication for things like the flu or stomach bug, but you can always purchase over the counter medicine for these symptoms and pain related in your chemist, known as drugstores or pharmacy and in some supermarkets.

If your GP decides that medication will help your condition, they will give you a prescription, if not plenty of fluids and healthy eating habit is always recommended.  A prescription will inform you how much you need to take of the medicine that was prescribed to you.  And then you visit your chemist.

The cost depends on what it is, what was prescribed to you, if it was generic brand that is generally cheaper or if you prefer to have the name brand medication in which it can be more expensive.  There is no real difference between the too just the name that is on the bottle.   Generic medicine was done for people who could not always afford the name brand could have a second option.   The active ingredients in both are the same.

When you take your medication home is important to read the instructions and directions that are on the side labels and follow it step by step.  This information will include dosage, how much medication should you take, how often and other useful information, if you can mix the medication while you are taking some other medication etc.

Bringing medication from home into Australia

If for any reason you need to bring medication from home into Australia make sure you bring your prescriptions with a letter from your doctor at home.  This could be because you have allergies and you need your to take your pills everyday or high blood pressure pills etc.  The more evidence you have that this medication you need it and it has been approve in your country, the simple it will be to get your prescriptions in Australia.  Doctors are not one to say no to prescriptions or to refills, but when entering a new continent in an unfamiliar place is just better to play it safe.  Since people bring prohibited items in and out of the country everyday, everywhere, you just want to have proof that this medicine you do need.

Same goes, that if you know you’ll buy more of the same medication now that you will be in Australia you should bring English translation of your prescription with that you can provide it to your GP and they will refill it at your pharmacy in Australia.


Another common doctor that you will most likely see while in Australia is a Dentist.  You find them in your area listed in the Yellow Pages as well.  Dentist will generally charge a fee for their service, which can be quite expensive.  Your OSHC may cover part of these costs, make sure you read in details what is the policy on dentist and what procedures may be covered or not.   Generally you do not need a referral from your GP to visit a dentist.  It is recommended that you visit a dentist every 6 months to a year.

Maintaining Good Health

To avoid unnecessary medical expenses, students should maintain good health whilst in Australia. A good food and exercise plan is a great way to start, in Australia it is recommended to have a minimum of 30 minutes exercise five times a week.

Other ways to maintain good health is to control stress levels, this is often difficult for University students however can be helped with a decent nights sleep as well as having all work under control.

Obviously it is ideal for students to consume alcohol and cigarettes in moderation or not at all, and to avoid doing either of these within a few hours of sleep. Keep water fluids up and try to eat vegetables and fruit, generally maintain a balanced diet.

If students are still feeling un well or overly stressed, it is a good idea to consult a General Practitioner.

Personal Safety

Most accidents can be prevented by using common sense. There are simple things to remember such as never carry large amounts of cash, make sure bags are tightly closed, don't walk by yourself at night or use public transport at night by yourself when leaving the house ensure all doors are secure and locked. Practise stranger danger, never get into a car with some one you do not know, it is also a good idea to always have a fully charged mobile phone with credit on it.

There are also many first aid courses available through the Red Cross or Saint Johns. A first aid course is a great idea if the student intends on travelling, bush walking or attending general out door activities.

Water Safety

Most international students are not used to the currents and conditions of an Australian beach. To ensure the student is always safe when swimming on a beach, attend a beach which has life guards. Life guards will place red and yellow flags on the beach swim between the flags as this shows where the safest part of the beach is. This is also where the life guards are patrolling.

Again common sense is a huge part of water safety, if the student has been drinking alcohol or is under the influence of drugs do not swim or operate a boat. At certain times of the year there may be risks from jelly fish, if there is a threat such as this there will be signs along the beach do not swim in that area if there are jelly fish. If caught in a rip do not fight it, stay still and wave for help a life guard will come to help.

Home Safety

Most Australian house holds have emergency safety plans in the case of a fire or any other dangerous situation. Make sure that you are aware of all possible exits and choose the safest and quickest exit in the case of an emergency this may be through a window. A first aid kit and a fire blanket are a great idea to keep in your house just in case anything happens. Ensure that the emergency services number is known to all members of the house hold, call 000 in case of an emergency.

Always ensure the house is locked and that home security and alarm systems are working correctly.

Smoke Alarms

It is compulsory for all Australian house holds to have working smoke alarms. Each year citizens are reminded to change batteries, all though it is best to change them twice a year.

Avoid Home Fires

To avoid house hold fires it is important to have working smoke alarms as well as by taking precautionary measures. Always be careful with electronic equipment, never smoke in bed, don't leave candles a light unattended, keep all materials away from open flames such as cook tops. Many parts of Australia are prone to bush fires, ensure lawns are mowed and gutters are clear to help prevent fire from spreading to your home.

Health System Australia

Ideally it is best to maintain a healthy lifestyle whilst in Australia, this will not only help you to stay healthy and happy, it will help with productivity in the way of your studies as well as save you money on medical expenses.

To stay as healthy as possible take a common sense approach, eat well do not over indulge on junk and take away food, reduce the consumption of alcohol and soft drinks, increase the consumption of water, fruit and vegetables, and try to limit or stop cigarettes use. It is illegal in Australia to take drugs, not only is it harmful to your body and mind but it will influence your whole life.

A great way to stay healthy is to ensure frequent exercise and activity levels, Australia is a country with huge out door areas, many activities to participate in as well as great weather most of the year. Exercising will not just keep you fit and healthy it will help minimise stress levels and help students to sleep better. A good nights sleep is needed for everyone, it helps to aid concentration, avoid stress levels and it will help students with their study. If you are stressed to much this will not help students with their study at all.

Australia has a bad reputation for alcohol consumption, and while it may be the thing to do on a social outing it is indeed bad for your health. It is illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to purchase and consume alcohol or use cigarettes in Australia, if under the age of 25 expect to be asked for photo identification in the way of a passport, drivers license or proof of age card. If out in public and if you are female always be wary of leaving a drink unattended, it may be spiked. If you do leave a drink order another do not consume the one that has been unattended.

Sexual health is the other huge concern in Australia. Australia is a very open country, it is very accepting of all sexualities. There are no huge rates of AIDs or HIV however the risk is still there. Contraception is so readily available, condoms can be brought at the supermarket or chemist. Other hormonal contraception methods can be obtained through a script from you doctor and a visit to the chemist. It is extremely important to practise safe sex. As there is still a risk of STI's (sexually transmitted infection) and the clamydia rate in Australia is on the rise, particularly in young people.

Sexual assault and rape is a crime in Australia, if you are a victim of any assault contact the local police station. In the case of an assault or rape it is also essential to visit a hospital emergency room. There are many counsellors and services available to help victims, such as Lifeline here there are counsellors that victims can talk to over the phone. To talk to Lifeline contact ph: 13 11 14. All calls are confidential.

As visa holders are not eligible for medicare rebates in Australia, the government as set up a compulsory health insurance service called Overseas Student Health Cover or OSHC. This covers any doctors visits or emergency room visits. OSHC must be maintained through out your stay in Australia and an account must be open before your arrival.

OSCH doesn't cover other medical expenses such as dental, optical, physiotherapy or chiropractors. If you require cover for any other medical reasons, the student will need to set up a private health insurance account. This will mean an extra cost. To find the best health insurance provider for you, there are several websites to look at such as: or

For any general doctor visits, students can contact a General Practitioners office to make an appointment. Doctors offices are located in most suburbs, they can be found in the yellow pages or other local directories. Appointments are essential. General Practioners will be able to provide prescriptions, help with any non life threatening health problems, give injections, treat infections and provide small surgical procedures. All appointments and details are kept private and confidential by law. OSHC partially covers the cost of a doctors visit.

If you have a life threatening condition you can visit the hospital emergency room in your area, or contact 000 for an ambulance if you have restrictions. Doctors will sometimes refer patients to see a specialist in the case of a life threatening condition or if something is out of their depth.

If a doctor sends you home with a script for medication, these can be picked up through the local chemist. On receival of the medication you will need to sign a form stating that you have received the medicine. They will ask you if you have taken this medication before and explain a little about it and how often you are required to take it. Never adjust the stated dosage as this could result in an over dose which could be life threatening.

Bringing prescription medication into Australia can be quite difficult, you will need to bring all copies of medical records and prescriptions with you and declare it to customs. Over seas prescriptions can not be used in Australia, you will need to visit a General Practitioner for a new script.

Most accidents can be prevented through the use of common sense. It is vital to ensure your own personal safety. Never carry large amounts of money on you, keep bags close at all times, lock doors when you leave the house, don't walk alone at night and be wary on public transport (if you feel unsafe call a taxi), never let a stranger drive you home, always have a fully charged mobile phone on you, be confident and if you can learn some self defence. Australia is a safe country, however there are always risks when around other human beings. Always be cautious.

Beaches are a popular option for hot summers days in Australia, if you do not know the beach or the tides always swim somewhere that is patrolled by life guards. Life guards on Australian beaches will place red and yellow flags along the safest strip of the beach, always swim between the flags.

There are many other water ways in Australia, rivers, streams and dams are not safe to swim in especially when alone. If you want to swim go to a swimming pool or a patrolled beach.

To ensure you are safe in the home, make sure your house has working locks on all the doors and windows. If leaving the house or when you are there keep doors locked. Never leave a spare set of keys out side of the house. Make sure you have working smoke alarms (this is compulsory in Australia). Try to prepare an emergency escape plan in the way of which exit to take in the case of an emergency.

The most feared emergency in Australian homes are fires. Fires can start so easily, from a accident or drip in the kitchen, electrical faults or unattended heaters or candles. Due to these risks it is essential that all Australian homes have working smoke alarms, twice a year batteries should be replaced (there will be reminders on television and in newspapers). Smoke alarms run on normal batteries which can be purchased from any supermarket.

In the case of a fire, get out of the house via your escape route/plan. This is why it is essential to have one organised in the case of an emergency. Call the emergency department on 000 and ask for a fire truck, if you are injured or suffering from burns or smoke inhalation you should ask for an ambulance as well.

Use common sense to avoid injury, bad health or emergency. This well help to ensure a safe and happy stay in Australia.

Health Services

In Australia, general health matters are attended to by doctors referred to as general practitioners (GPs). A GP will be able to address many of your medical concerns, and refer you to a specialist doctor where required. Hospital emergency rooms in Australia are reserved solely for emergency patients.

Mild general medicines for pain relief and other ailments can be purchased over the counter at pharmacies or supermarkets. Stronger and specialised medicines must be prescribed in writing by a doctor.  When bringing medication with you from home, carry also your medical records, prescriptions in English and a letter from your doctor.

Maintaining good health

Your ability to study depends on your physical and mental health. An average of 30 minutes of exercise daily will help you manage stress, improve your energy levels and put you into a good mood and a positive state of mind. It will help you maintain a clear head and a great opportunity to meet friends and socialize. An excellent suggestion is a gymnasium, where you can exercise and meet some great Aussie locals.

A regular exercise pattern will help you get good nights sleep. With a poor nights sleep, your concentration levels decrease, make you irritable and even lose energy. After a few consecutive nights of poor sleep, you will notice you get sad and depressed by things easily, and you will get sick easier.


Emergency room doctors
Emergency Room (ER) doctors work in hospital emergency rooms and treat life-threatening illnesses or severe injuries. Hopefully you will never have to visit an ER during your stay in Australia, but if you do, you will be in the best of care. If you or someone around you needs urgent medical attention, immediately call 000. You may be advised to go to a hospital, or depending on the circumstances, an ambulance may come and pick you up. On the way to the hospital, the ambulance staff or paramedics will attend to your emergency.

The Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS)
The Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) is a non-profit charitable organization providing aero medical services to people who live, work and travel in regional and remote areas of Australia. The RFDS provide 24 hour service to victims of serious illness or injury who are in a life-threatening medical emergency. A total of 47 aircraft operate from 21 bases located throughout the country and attend to a staggering average of 242,500 patients a year.
Prescription medication
Chemists, pharmacies and some supermarkets sell over-the-counter medicine for pain killers, flu tablets, cough medicine, eye drops, ear drops, bandages, plasters, and all types of medicine for minor ailments.

Your GP will issue you a prescription for prescribed medication if he feels that it will help your medical condition. A prescription is a piece of paper you are given by the GP that lists your GPs details and your name and quantity of the medication you will receive. You must then take this prescription to your local chemist or pharmacy where you can buy the medication specified on the prescription. Australian GPs usually will not give you medication themselves.

When you purchase your medication from the chemist, you will have to sign a form to declare that you have received it, and then pay for the medication. The price of the medication depends on the quantity, dosage and the type of medication prescribed. Your chemist will offer you a generic brand of medication, which will be a lot cheaper. The only difference between normal brand medication and generic brand medication is the packaging and the price. The active ingredients are all the same.

It is important that you read and understand the packaging of the medication, and follow the directions when you take it home. This information will include the dosage - how much medication to take and how often you should take it. Failing to follow these directions may make you even sicker or you may even overdose.

The Australian system for handling the dispersal of prescription medicine may seem stricter than some other countries. The Australian government has put these strict rules and regulations in order to protect your health and to prevent the abuse of prescription medication.


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