Health and Safety in Australia
Care about your safety? You’ve chosen well.
Generally, Australia is a safe country to live and study, however, it’s important to always be attentive and take care of yourself to reduce risks.
Now that you are adjusting to a new way of life, everything will be a learning process so follow your instincts and be alert.
Best safety and health practices
As an international student, it is a condition of your student visa that you maintain Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) for the entire duration of your stay.
OSHC covers some medical services (see your policy for specific details). Your OSHC must be arranged before departure for Australia and covers you from the moment you arrive. You will need to pick up your OSHC card from your health care provider (e.g. Medibank Private, Worldcare Assist or BUPA OSHC). Ask your institution's International Student Office for assistance.
Australia’s health care system
Most large university campuses have an on-campus medical centre with quality doctors. All other campuses have at least a trained first aid officer and rooms for sick or injured students to wait for a doctor to arrive in emergencies.
There are medical centres and hospitals throughout all cities and towns, including many in suburban areas. There are 24-hour emergency centres at hospitals and in some suburbs.
Patients can request to see a male or female doctor.
It may be possible to find a doctor who speaks your native language. The Department of Home Affairs offers free interpreting services by telephone to help patients whose English skills are not strong.
Australia’s health care system is divided into ‘public’ and ‘private’. Public patients rely on the government’s national health insurance, Medicare. It coexists with a private health system.
If there is an emergency, call 000. Tell the operator who answers which of the following services you need.
If you are not feeling confident to speak in English, inform the operator your language and wait for instructions. Try to stay calm, speak slowly and clearly. Calls to 000 are free of charge.
When to call 000:
- If you witness a crime or an accident.
- If your life or property are threatened.
- If someone is seriously injured and needs immediate medical attention.
- Get to know your neighbours and look out for each other’s safety.
- Always make sure your home is secure.
- Verify the credentials of any tradesperson before you let them in. Do not let any strangers into the house.
- Get a timer for your lights, TV and radio.
Out of the house
- Be observant, keep a lookout for people who look suspicious and behave oddly.
- Have your mobile phone with you always. If not, make sure you have money to make a call.
- Avoid dark roads and paths and stick to well-lit, busy places at night.
- Mix things up and avoid using the same route regularly.
- Keep anything of value hidden from public view. Don’t carry big amounts of money with you.
- Consider taking self-defence classes.
- Don’t hitchhike.
- Walk on the footpath that faces oncoming traffic.
- If you use headphones to listen to music, make sure you keep one ear free always as you don’t want to be caught unawares, especially someone coming up behind you.
- If you feel unsafe, alert public transport staff and ask other passengers for help.
- Plan your journey before you leave to minimise waiting time in the dark.
- Be alert and keep an eye out for suspicious people.
- If you park your car at the station, park close to the building and get your keys in your hand as soon as you leave the train, bus or tram.
- Try to be seen and locate safety features such as emergency buttons, safety zones, public transport staff, and CCTV cameras while you wait for your transport.
- If someone is picking you up from the station, call in advance and let them know you are nearby to minimize waiting time.
- If you feel threatened, keep a distance between you and the threat. Move towards people, if you are not alone.
- Call 000 and report it. Try to remember the appearance of the offender, details of the weapon or vehicle (registration number, make and colour) if one is used.
- If you are driving, remain in your car at all times. Obtain the registration number and report the incident to the police.
- Do not go home if you are followed, drive to the nearest police or service station to get help.
- If you are a victim of family violence, report it directly to the police or somebody can do it on your behalf.
In a car accident
- Move your car to the side of the road so you’re not blocking traffic. If you can’t move your car, turn your hazard lights, leave your vehicle and move to a safe place.
- Check on other parties involved and call for an ambulance if anyone is injured. If any public property is damaged, the other party drove off or is refusing to cooperate, please call the police instead.
- You should also call the police if there’s any suspicion of drugs or alcohol being involved.
- Don’t admit to being at fault as when you’ve been in an accident, we may not take all the factors into account. Always best to leave it to the experts to decide who is at fault.
- Contact your insurer as they can organise a tow truck and your transport home (if required).
- Don’t forget to get the following details about any other party involved in the accident:
Name, contact details and licence numbers of the owner and driver of the other vehicle/s.
- Details of other car/s – registration number, colour, make and model.
- The other driver/s insurance details.
- Remember that the person driving the car may not necessarily be the owner, or the insured party so make sure you ask and verify.
- A summary of the accident – where and when it happened. Include photos of the scene.
- Protect your skin by applying sunscreen before you go outside.
- Always wear a hat and UV protective sunglasses.
- The sun is strongest between 10 am – 3 pm, so try to avoid spending long hours under the sun during that time.
- There’s no escape on cloudy and overcast days as you can still get burnt. Make sure you’re always protected.
- Our bodies still need to stay hydrated regardless of the weather and all the same demands of water apply.