Australia is currently the third largest destination country for students, with Australian education Minister Dan Tehan predicting that this country will soon overtake the UK in terms of overseas students. If you have already chosen your university in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, or another exciting state, don’t forget to ensure you cover all possible health contingencies. Australia might just be a few planes (and various hours) away from home, so you want to make sure you are covered against illness or injury while you are there.
Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) is Compulsory in Australia
When applying for your student visa in Australia, you will be told about Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC). The latter is a compulsory requirement for all students from abroad and it should be purchased from a government-approved provider. Your university of choice can also normally arrange for your OSHC through its preferred provider.
What does OSHC Cover?
OSHC covers basic medical and hospital care, including visits to a General Practitioner, ambulance services, some hospital treatments, and some medication. Some countries enjoy a bilateral agreement with the Australian government, which allows them Medicare and care for illness or injuries that cannot wait until a student gets home. Countries involved are Belgium, Finland, Italy, Malta, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Ireland, Slovenia, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. The agreement provides students with lower priced medication, in addition to treatment in and out of hospital. Students hailing from other countries can look into singles health insurance (or family insurance if traveling with a spouse/partner/children) to ensure they are entitled to a full gamut of treatments – including, for instance, dental care.
Check your university website for information regarding the vaccinations required to study in Australia. A few recommended vaccines are for diphtheria, tetanus, Hepatitis B, MMR (measles, mumps, rubella), chicken pox, and TB. The list is long, though, and also includes pneumococcal and meningococcal. If you hail from a country considered ‘high risk’, you might also be asked to be vaccinated for yellow fever. The doctor who conducts your medical examination as required by your visa application will be able to verify you have all relevant vaccines. Have your records ready to speed things up at your appointment.
Reducing Your Chances of Illness and Injury while Abroad
The good news about study in Australia is that sanitary conditions, water quality etc. Are excellent. However, as is the case for students traveling to other countries, you should take precautions against diseases that can be transmitted by bodily fluids. You should also limit alcohol consumption and avoid substances that can increase your chances of indulging in risky behaviors. Finally, know that some states in Australia can be very hot, and extra solar protection may be required. You should also increase your awareness of local spiders and bugs to watch out for. Although urban areas are generally safe, some bugs and spiders do populate urban areas, so do see a doctor quickly in the case of a bite. Don’t let insects deter you; bear in mind bites are rare and effective treatments exist for all possible bites.
Australia is a beautiful country with so many opportunities to eat, exercise, and de-stress. From the warm climes of Brisbane to the ‘four seasons in one day’ of Melbourne, you are bound to enjoy your time studying in a safe, happy country with a reputation for a great work-life balance. Ensure your insurance is in order and take precautions while you are there. Have a great time, but try to reduce risky behaviors, concentrating on building great memories of this unique time in your life.