Living in Australia: community information for foreign official representatives

Health

Staff and dependants from New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, Italy, Malta, Ireland, Belgium, Norway and Slovenia have access to Medicare, Australia's national health system under reciprocal health care arrangements. Further information is available from the Department of Human Services.

All other foreign official staff and dependants must pay the full rate for medical treatment received in Australia, including ambulance charges. As medical care in Australia is expensive, staff and dependants not covered for medical costs by their home governments should consider private health insurance tailored to their needs as temporary residents. Further information is available from the Private Health Insurance Ombudsman.

Useful links for Canberra-based foreign official representatives

Education

Depending on the state or territory, school is compulsory in Australia from the age of five or six to the age of 15, 16 or 17. Parents have a choice of two school systems in Australia: state (operated by state and territory governments) and private (operated by non-government organisations).

Overseas students in state or territory primary or secondary schools must pay a fee. Primary and secondary school age children of diplomatic and consular staff, however, are not treated as overseas students. They can attend schools on the same basis as Australian children as long as their parents remain accredited by DFAT. Private schools, on the other hand, usually charge tuition fees.

Foreign official representatives and their dependants can enrol in tertiary educational institutions in Australia, provided they meet the requirements for entry, which vary from institution to institution. Fees apply. Staff and dependants who are not eligible for Medicare benefits should seek a waiver of the Medicare component of overseas student fees.

Useful links for Canberra-based foreign official representatives

Playgroups

Pre-school, primary and secondary schools

Tertiary education

Vocational Education

English language courses

ACT emergency and local government services

Useful links for Canberra-based foreign official representatives

Women's International Club

The Women's International Club of Canberra (WIC) fosters friendship between women from Australia and other countries who are living permanently or temporarily in the ACT. Members meet monthly and the Club organises regular guest speakers, presentations and performances. Within the club, there are 60 smaller groups which provide opportunities to share interests and develop friendships. Women from the diplomatic corps may join as Visiting International Members. Those interested can attend a WIC Contact Morning to find out more – enquiries and requests for an invitation should be addressed to wicmembership2017@gmail.com.

Voluntary work

Many Australian community organisations welcome the assistance of volunteers. Volunteers work in areas such as sport, culture and heritage, science and technology, arts, health and environment, and many more. Volunteering provides opportunities to become involved in the community, to make friends and meet people, and to share and broaden skills and experience.

In Canberra, Volunteering ACT can provide training and advice to potential volunteers and can match their skills and interests with organisations in need of voluntary assistance. Volunteering ACT is based at Belconnen and can be contacted on 6251 4060 or via the website.

Last Updated: 8 January 2018