Things to consider about living and studying in Australia

What’s it like living in Australia? You can find out about Australia by watching the following short films about Australian people and society

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

The southern states – New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia – offer climates containing all four seasons, from very hot summers to freezing cold winters.

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 is adequate to support a comfortable lifestyle for an average student in Australia. Costs for students travelling with dependants can be very high and students must cover these additional costs from their own sources.

Watch this video for an introduction to costs and other issues relating to living and studying in Australia


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 must identify at the scholarship application stage if they intend to bring family members with them to Australia.

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

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 time to settle into their new environment and academic requirements without the distraction of settling in the family.

VisitDepartment of Immigration and Border Protection

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 Scholarship awardee.

VisitChild care benefits

It is mandatory for your children to be fully immunised before they can participate in child care, primary and secondary schooling.

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 documents about immunisations that your child has already received in Timor-Leste.

VisitImmunising your children

Schooling for dependants
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 these services.

Work conditions for dependants
Dependents of students on an Australian Government supported Scholarship may be permitted to work full-time provided the Scholarship awardee has started their course.

Additional information regarding Scholarship students’ work rights is available from the Student Contact Officer at each institution.

Note that employment opportunities for dependants are limited, and it may be difficult to find employment. Employment opportunities will also vary depending on the location in which the awardee chooses to live and the skills and qualifications they already have to compete in the Australian job market.

Health issues


Australia’s medical system
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.

Overseas Student Health Cover
The Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) is a form of private health insurance. The Australia Award covers the costs of OSHC which is organised by the Australian institution. Awardees may want to contact the Student Contact Officer at the institution for information on which health insurance the organisation uses.

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.

Visit – 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.


What do you need to know and do?
Before leaving Timor-Leste to go to Australia to commence your studies:

  • Find out from the University website who is the OSHC provider
  • Read and understand the OSHC Policy information on the website and in the information provided by the Australian Government, the Australia Awards Office in Dili and the University.


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

Travelling with Medicine into Australia
Visit your Doctor and get advice on medication to take and medical notes to carry with you.

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