Top Health Advice for Expats Moving to Australia



Reciprocal healthcare agreements, low risks of food and water borne diseases are just some healthcare perks that expats moving to Australia can look forward to. Here is a look at the big picture:

Health Risks

Food and water borne diseases do not pose a big threat to persons who are traveling 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 feature prolonged effects on the infected person. 

Here are a few snippets about the implications of each of these diseases:             

1. The Ross River Virus (RRV): A widespread aboviral disease caused by mosquito bites, this disease has rheumatic symptoms which could make work impossible for 2-3 months and which could last up to one year. 

2. Murray Valley Encephalitis (MVE): Severe infection in humans caused by mosquito bites with encephalitis being the most prominent symptom.   

3. Buruli Ulcer: A bacterial infection which results in large ulcers and causes severe damage of the skin and tissue on the arms and legs of the infected person has witnessed a spurt since 2004. The State of Victoria and the town of Point Lonsdale have reported a higher incidence of these infections.  

The months of April to September are the influenza season in Australia, so expats are advised to prepare for it.   

Medical Kit and Other Essentials

Having a medical kit on hand can be valuable should an emergency arise. Items to store inside the kit include medication for coughs, the common cold, chest infection, soluble aspirin, antiseptic cream, bandages and sticking plaster. Condoms and oral contraceptives are some important inclusions for your medical kit. Any medication that you may be taking and a prescription are both necessary for those undergoing medical treatment, so pack those along in your medical kit as well.

Disposable needles and syringes are also necessary for the face of the growing risk of AIDS. Do not forget to include a thermometer, which can come in handy. Other items to consider aside from medicines include a flashlight, a small pair of scissors and tweezers which can be useful when travelling to remote areas.

Living Tips 

Most of the infectious diseases peculiar to Australia are caused by mosquito bites and bacteria. Thus, it is best to stay away from stagnant water bodies like swamps, marshes, lakes and ponds. Use insect repellents and sleep under a mosquito net. A visit to your doctor ahead of travel to an infected area will give you some idea about the health risks prevalent there and enlighten you about the precautions that you can take to protect yourself. Avoid casual sex and always use a condom during intercourse with an unknown partner. Keep an eye on news about any outbreaks and you are more or less covered on the health risk front. 

When on the road, adhere to traffic rules, wear a helmet and stick to speed limits to protect yourself from road accidents. The costs of transportation include about AU$3.00 to 5.00 for one inner city bus ticket and about AU$80.00 to 150.00 for a monthly ticket via public transportation. For petrol, one liter (1/4 gallon) will cost $1.40 to 1.60 Australian Dollars.


While there are no mandatory shots that are required in order to enter Australia, it is advisable to visit your doctor to know about any vaccinations that are best to get. Chicken pox, polio, measles, diphtheria, tetanus, Hepatitis A and B are common vaccination travel requirements, and you may need to get vaccinated for them before you travel. Currently there is no vaccination available for Ross River Virus (RRV), Murray Valley Encephalitis (MVE) and Buruli Ulcer, which are three common health risks in Australia. 

Food and Water Safety

Food and water borne infections are not really a risk in Australia and hence there is no cause for concern in this regard.

Health Insurance Tips                                                                                                   

Australia has “Reciprocal Healthcare Agreements” with countries like New Zealand and it would be a good idea to check if your country has similar agreements with them. If such an arrangement exists then check to see if you would be entitled to any subsidized medical benefits during your stay here. However, private health insurance is the best bet to deal with any eventuality.


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