Living in Australia


Living in Australia

For information about living and studying in Australia’s eight states and territories, click on the Australia map below, selecting your preferred region.





Where is Australia?


Cost of Living

Dependent family members

Health issues


Where is Australia?

Australia is a large, geographically diverse ‘island continent’ in the southern hemisphere bounded by the Indian Ocean to its west and the Pacific Ocean to its east. The distance from Johannesburg in South Africa to Perth in Western Australia is 8,300 km, taking around 10 hours to fly direct. The distance to Sydney on Australia’s east coast is 11,000 km and the journey by air takes around 14 hours. Most awardees travelling to Australia from northern, western or eastern parts of Africa will stop over at a transit point such as Dubai or Singapore, depending on their port of origin and their intended destination. Most awardees commencing their journey from southern Africa transit through Johannesburg in South Africa.

Australia’s closest neighbours are Indonesia, East Timor and Papua New Guinea immediately to the continent’s north and New Zealand, Fiji, Vanuatu and Solomon Islands in the Pacific Ocean to the east.

Watch this video prepared by the Australia Awards Office for an introduction to Australia


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Australia is an essentially arid continent, with 80% of the land having a rainfall less than 600 millimetres per year and 50% having even less than 300 millimetres per year.


The Australian climate varies considerably and offers a climate to suit everyone across its eight states and territories. Australia’s tropical region has a ‘wet’ and a ‘dry’ season. The wet season occurs between November and April, and the dry season between May and October. Australia’s north encompasses desert and tropical regions across three states and territories; Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland.


For those who prefer milder weather, Australia’s southern states are for you. Typically, Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia offers a cooler climate.



living in aus_climate

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Cost of living

Many students find the cost of living to be high in Australia, however the Contribution to Living Expenses (CLE) that is provided to awardees studying on a long-term award is adequate to support a comfortable lifestyle for an average student in Australia. Costs for students travelling with dependents can be very high and students must cover these additional costs from their additional sources.


Watch this video prepared by the Australia Awards Office for an introduction to costs and other issues relating to living in Australia



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Dependent family members

Issues to consider include:


Visas and entitlements

The Australian Government does not provide any financial or other support for the dependents of Australia Awards awardees. Applicants for long-term awards must identify at the scholarship application stage if they intend to bring family members with them to Australia. Note that Africa Fellowship awardees are not entitled to bring their families to Australia.


Awardees may contact the Student Contact Officer at their institution for information about accommodation, as well as schooling and child care for dependents.


Australia Awards Scholarship awardees who intend bringing family are strongly encouraged to travel to Australia on their own and study unaccompanied for at least the first six months. This will allow the awardee to settle into their new environment and academic requirements without the distraction of settling in the family.


Please contact your Student Contact Officer to obtain supporting documentation for the Immigration office (DIBP). Awardees will also require a Letter of No Objection from DFAT Pretoria. This can be requested through your Program Officer.


For more information on the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, please visit the website at:


Note that awardees participating in short courses in Australia may not bring their dependents with them.


Child care

Access to good quality and affordable child care can be difficult in some Australian cities, so early preparation is essential for awardees planning to take pre-school age children to Australia.


Australia Awards scholars are usually entitled to child care benefits if their child is enrolled in a registered child care centre.


Contact the Student Contact Officer at your institution for information about child care and your entitlements as a scholar on a long term Australia Award or visit




It is mandatory for your children to be fully immunised before they can participate in child care, primary and secondary schooling. For more details please consult the following website


Note that the cost of immunisation can be expensive depending on your child’s age and which immunisations your child requires. Bring with you any documentation about immunisations that your child has already received from your home country.


It may be cheaper to have the immunisation done in your country of origin if your family has not already joined you.



Schooling for dependents

Children will need to be provisionally enrolled in a school before leaving your home country. Children may attend school in all states and territories free of school fees, but conditions vary between Australian states and territories. There may be some charges for English language training, or schooling for children of non-compulsory school age. 

Most schools provide outside hours school care and many universities provide childcare services on-campus. There will be fees associated with this service.


Work conditions for dependents

As of 1 December 2003, dependents of students undertaking a long-term Australia Award may be permitted to work full time provided the Australia Awards scholar has started their course. Additional information regarding Australia Awards students’ work rights is available from the Student Contact Officer at each institution.

 It should be noted that employment opportunities for dependents are limited, and it may take some time to find employment. Employment opportunities will also vary depending on the area in which the awardee chooses to live and the skills and qualifications they already have to compete in the Australian job market.


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Health issues


Australia’s medical system and Overseas Student Health Cover

Medicare, Australia’s public health care system designed to give access to free or low cost medical, optometric and hospital care, was introduced in 1984. The aim of Medicare is to give all Australian citizens and permanent residents access to health care regardless of their personal circumstances.


Under the Australian Medicare system Australia Award recipients are entitled to be treated as a public patient in a public hospital at no charge. This system allows you to receive treatment by a hospital appointed doctor and you will also be entitled to any follow-up treatment at no additional cost.


Medicare also allows for individuals to take up private health insurance cover to supplement the basic services covered by Medicare, if they choose to do so. The Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) is a form of private health insurance.


On-Award health insurance

Your Australia Award covers the costs of OSHC which is organised by your University as part of your placement. This table lists the Australian universities and the health insurance organisations they use.


OSHC providers


What your OSHC will cover

OSHC provides a safety net for international students. It includes cover for visits to the doctor, some hospital treatment, ambulance cover and limited pharmaceuticals (medicines).

At a minimum, each OSHC product must include cover for:

  • the benefit amount listed in the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) fee for out-of-hospital medical services
  • 100 per cent of the MBS fee for in-patient medical services
  • public hospital shared ward accommodation
  • day surgery accommodation
  • some prosthetic devices
  • pharmaceutical benefits up to $50 per pharmaceutical item to a maximum of $300 a year for a single membership ($600 for a family membership)
  • ambulance services.

OSHC does not cover dental, optical or physiotherapy. If you want to be covered for these treatments you will need to buy additional private health insurance, such as:

  • extra OSHC provided by some OSHC providers
  • international travel insurance, and
  • general treatment covers with any Australian private health insurer. You can find a list of these providers and search for the one that suits you best at or

Waiting Periods

On the day you arrive in Australia, your OSHC will come into effect. However there will be a period of time that you will have to wait until you can claim for the following services:

  • treatment during the first 12 months of membership for pre-existing medical, conditions, disabilities and pregnancy-related services, and
  • treatment during the first 2 months of membership for pre-existing psychiatric conditions.


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What do you need to know and do?

Prior to mobilisation:


Some Useful Websites

The following websites offer useful information for those who may pre-existing medical conditions.







Travelling with Medicine into Australia

For those who will require to take medication to Australia, information is available at the following website

  • Visit your Doctor and get advice on medication to take and medical notes to carry with you.


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