Health Tips When Moving to Australia




Medicare is Australia’s national healthcare services, and it provides free health care in public facilities. Medicare covers health care in private facilities up to 75%. Additionally, Medicare’s Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) subsidises the cost of approximately 1700 necessary and lifesaving medicines. If you intend to stay in Australia for a long time, it best to apply to avail of Medicare services as soon as you can. You will need to provide some personal details of your income, residence and assets to get your Medicare card which is valid for five years. Australia has reciprocal health care agreements with certain countries, and you should check on whether there is such an arrangement with your home country.  


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Hospitals & Clinics

There are both public and private hospitals in Australia. The former are basic and often lack even basic medical supplies and face a dearth of doctors and nurses. However, life-saving medicines and equipment are available. Private hospitals such as the Australian Hospital Care are operating in the country and often charge separately for medicines and care. Public hospitals charge $250 per day (an additional accommodation charge is applicable if you would like your own doctor or surgeon to attend) while private hospitals charge over $600 per day for private patients.  

Medicines & Pharmacies

Pharmacies are known as “chemists” in Australia and sell medicines against a doctor’s prescription. They also provide free advice for minor ailments like a cough, headaches and stomach problems. There are 24-hour chemists that operate in some cities and in the case of an emergency you may also contact a local police station or general practitioner.  


It is not a requirement to register with a doctor or a dentist in the country, and expats can visit any of them either as a Medicare patient or a private patient. The best way to find a doctor or a dentist is by asking friends and co-workers for a recommendation. If you want to see, General Practitioners seek an appointment at least two days ahead. Medicare card holders are exempt from additional fees; however, a private patient will have to pay around $50 for a routine consultation.   

Surgery hours differ, but they generally are 8:30am to 6 or 7pm, Mondays to Fridays (closing early any one day). Evening surgeries may be held on one or two evenings in a week, and emergency surgeries are usually held on Saturday mornings. Dentists advertise in the yellow pages and offer services such as 24-hour answering services, emergency surgeries and dental hygienists. 

Emergency Services

Keep a list of the hospitals and clinics located nearest to you for use in an emergency. In the event of a minor emergency, you should go to the Accident or Emergency Department at a public hospital (if you are physically able) or call your family doctor. In the event of a major emergency dial 000 for an ambulance. Ambulances in Australia are well equipped, and air ambulances operate in certain cities. At just $20 a month, you can join the St. John’s Ambulance Association and get free access to ambulance facility in most cities. The Royal Flying Doctor service in Australia covers 80% of the outback area in the country. Emergency cases in Australia are treated irrespective of nationality and the ability to pay.   

Health Risks

Food and water-borne diseases do not pose a big threat to persons travelling or moving to Australia. However, there are some diseases that are peculiar to the country and awareness about them will help you take preventive measures. Japanese Encephalitis is common in the Torres Strait and far northern parts of Australia. Rabies is a risk for people who have been exposed to bats. The Ross River Virus (RRV), Murray Valley Encephalitis (MVE) and Buruli Ulcer are some other diseases which are common in the island country and for which vaccination is currently unavailable. The former two are spread through mosquito bites, and the latter is a bacterial infection. All three diseases are severe and could have prolonged effects on the infected person. The influenza season in Australia lies from April to September.