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Australia’s health care system provides a wide range of services including general practice, community health, emergency services and allied health services.


COVID-19 Health Advice

Please refer to the SA Health website for the current COVID-19 Direction.

Everyday precautions

Practising good hygiene is the first step in preventing the spread of infectious diseases:

  • wash your hands often with soap and running water, for at least 20 seconds. Dry them with a paper towel or a hand dryer. Alternatively use alcohol-based hand sanitisers
  • try not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth
  • cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze
  • stay home if you’re unwell to avoid making others sick.

Physical distancing

Avoid close contact and crowded places wherever you can:

  • keep at least 1.5 metres distance from others wherever and whenever possible
  • avoid hugging and kissing
  • swap handshakes for a wave
  • turn face to face interactions into phone or video conference calls
  • consider working/studying from home
  • pay using tap-and-go instead of cash.

COVID-19 Symptoms

If you have any of the symptoms below, even if mild, you need to get tested for COVID-19 as soon as symptoms appear:

  • Fever or chills

  • Cough

  • Sore throat

  • Runny nose

  • Shortness of breath

  • Loss of taste or smell

  • Diarrhea and vomiting

Call 000 (Triple Zero) in an emergency, such as difficulty breathing or chest pain.

What to Do if You're Feeling Unwell

If you are unwell or develop any of the symptoms listed above (even if mild), get tested immediately and go straight home to self-isolate.

  • Do not go to public places (e.g. work, school, university, shopping centres, public parks, social or religious gatherings).
  • Do not visit hospitals.

It is very important that you stay home and call the doctor before you visit the doctor's practice and be sure to describe your symptoms and travel history when you call.

Please refer to your institutions’ list of medical providers or call the National Coronavirus Helpline on 1800 020 080. Clinical staff are available 24 hours, 7 days a week.

To find a doctor close to where you are living, visit the Find a Health Service tool by Health Direct.

Should you require translating assistance when seeking medical advice please call TIS – Translating and Interpreting Service on 13 14 50.

Contact your OSHC provider to understand the level of cover provided by your policy in case you need medical services or treatment.

How to get tested

There is no cost for COVID-19 testing if you are tested at SA Health or Primary Health Network (PHN) facilities, however, private providers may charge a gap for COVID-19 testing.

Rapid Antigen Testing (RAT)

Rapid Antigen Testing (RAT) is an alternative to standard PCR testing.

If you test positive in a RAT, you do not need to get a PCR test. You must report your result with 24 hours using this online form.

If you test negative using a RAT but have COVID-19 symptoms, stay at home until you are well.

Polymerase Chain Reaction Testing (PCR)

If you have COVID-19 symptoms, you can get a PCR test at SA Health testing sites. You should quarantine until you receive a negative result.

If you test negative but have COVID-19 symptoms, stay at home until you are well.

General Practitioner (GP)

If you prefer to get tested by your GP, it is very important that you stay home and call the doctor before you visit the doctor's practice and be sure to describe your symptoms and travel history when you call.

If you qualify for a test, your GP may test you in their clinic, take a swab test while you remain in your car, or refer you to attend a drive-through testing clinic.

Private providers may charge a gap for COVID-19 testing.

What if I test positive for COVID-19

 SA Health has created a webpage with all you need to know about isolation and support available for you.

Who needs to quarantine or isolate

From 12.01am Friday 14 October 2022, you do not have to isolate if you test positive to COVID-19, but you should stay home if you are sick.

There are important things you can do protect our community. If you have COVID-19, you should:
  • stay home until you are well
  • wear a mask in indoor public places or on public transport if you must leave your home
  • tell your workplace and talk about when you can return to work
  • avoid large gatherings and crowded indoor places
  • not visit a hospital, aged care or disability care facility for at least 7 days.

For information on what to do if you test positive to COVID-19, visit SA Health website.

If you need health support, you can also contact the National Coronavirus Helpline on 1800 020 080 (available 24 hours, 7 days). When you call, press ‘option 8’ for free interpreting assistance.

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Health Terms You Should Know

Term

Meaning

Medicare

Medicare is the public health system that gives Australian residents free or discounted health services. If you are an international student, you will be required to have a private insurance (OSHC).

OSHC

Overseas Student Health Cover. As an international student in Australia, you and your dependants are required to have Overseas Student Health Cover for the entire duration of your studies in Australia. 

OSHC covers your visits to the doctor, some hospital treatments, emergency ambulance and limited pharmaceutical items. Learn more about OSHC, including a list of the providers here and check with your insurance provider what is covered under your insurance.

Hospital Cover

A cover that helps with the cost of a member's hospital stay as a private patient including hospital accommodation on the ward, in-patient medical treatment, and associated costs during the admission. Check with your insurance provider if hospital cover is included in your OSHC.

GP

General Practitioner. A GP can help you by diagnosing and treating pain, diseases and other health issues. They can also help with mental health support, vaccines, referrals for tests or scans, prescribe medication, as well as referring you to specialist doctors. If you need to visit a doctor, your first step is to find a GP near where you live or study; you can find a GP in private practices, public clinics and medical clinics. 

The fee for service can vary. Most OSHC will pay a benefit towards the costs of seeing a GP; when a GP charges more than the Medical Benefits Schedule (MBS) fee (the set government fee), you will be left with an out-of-pocket expense. To minimise any out-of-pocket expense, you can attend a bulk billing clinic.

MBS fee

The Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) is a list of all the medical services subsidised by the government, including visiting a GP or seeing a specialist, as well as the recommended fees for those services, known as the MBS fee. 

If you have an OSHC, your insurance will cover the MBS fee, but if the specialist chooses to charge above the MBS fee, you will have to pay the difference, an out-of-pocket expense.

Bulk Billing

A bulk billing clinic is a clinic where the GPs charge the MBS fee, ensuring you won’t have to pay an out-of-pocket fee. It may be convenient to confirm with the clinic prior to your consultation any 'out-of-pocket' expenses you may have to pay.

Out of pocket expenses

Out-of-pocket expense (which is sometimes known as the “gap”) is the difference between the fee charged by a provider, and what your insurance will pay for. 

To minimise any out-of-pocket expense, you can attend a bulk billing clinic. Remember to confirm any 'out-of-pocket' expenses you may have to pay prior to your consultation by contacting the clinic.

School clinic

Some universities and schools have a medical clinic or health practice that provides primary care and support to staff, students and in some cases to the general public. The school clinic can usually help you visit a doctor, prescribe medicine, and provide vaccines. International students will generally be bulk billed but remember to confirm any out-of-pocket expenses with the clinic before your appointment.

000

If you need urgent emergency medical care, call 000. This will connect you directly to ambulance, police, and fire services.  Usually, your OSHC insurance will cover the ambulance cost.

13SICK National Home Doctor

If you require medical assistance outside of business hours or on weekends, you can call 13SICK National Home Doctor on 137425 or contact them at Home Doctor | After Hours Doctors Australia

This is a bulk billed service, meaning that international students who have overseas student health cover will not be charged a fee for the doctor home visit.

Telehealth

Telehealth is the use of communication technologies to access medical services remotely. It can involve talking to a GP or specialist over the phone or using Skype. Telehealth is a convenient solution and helps reduce the spread of illness when a physical examination isn’t necessary. 

Many GPs and specialists offer this option, including the 13SICK National Home Doctor service, and the cost is usually the same than a medical appointment.

Mental Health Care Plan

A mental health plan is a support program that you and your doctor will develop together if you are experiencing mental health issues. The plan might include:

  • A referral to a specialist, such as a psychologist
  • Other strategies to improve your mental health, such as tips for a healthy state of mind

How can I get a mental health care plan? The first step is to book an appointment with a GP. When you book, mention that you'd like to discuss a mental health care plan so they can schedule the right appointment for you. At your visit, tell your doctor how you feel and what concerns you. Remember that doctors are trained to listen and what you tell them is confidential.

For more information, visit Ask Peace (in your language) or call their friendly team at (08) 8245 8110 between 9am and 5pm . If you call outside these hours, you can leave a message and a counsellor will contact you.

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Hospitals

In Australia, hospitals are for emergencies. You should go to a hospital Emergency Department if you have an emergency injuries or acute illnesses, such as:

  • major injuries
  • a broken bone or if you fell from a great height
  • heart attack / chest pain
  • asthma attack or problems breathing
  • uncontrolled bleeding
  • severe pain
  • severe burn
  • loss of consciousness or sudden collapse
  • drug overdoses or poisoning

Emergency services are available to everyone in Australia at the accident and emergency unit of any public hospital, 24 hours a day. Learn more about South Australia’s public hospitals and health services.

At the Hospital, medical staff will evaluate the urgency and seriousness of your symptoms and will determine how fast you will be examined. Be patient and respectful, if your case doesn’t require urgent medical attention, you may have to wait.

If you or someone nearby is experiencing symptoms that could be life-threatening, call triple zero (000) and ask for an ambulance. If you’re not confident speaking in English, you can ask the operator for an interpreter. Your OSHC should cover 100% of the cost of emergency ambulance services.

If you are experiencing any non-life-threatening conditions, such as:

  • earaches
  • cold or flu
  • sore throat
  • skin infections
  • minor injuries or fist aid services
  • urinary tract infections
  • vaccinations

a local doctor should always be your first point of contact. Continue reading to find out how to get an appointment with a general practitioner.

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Seeing a Doctor

If you need to see doctor (also known as a GP), you can find a list here. You should register with a local doctor when you arrive, so you have somewhere to go if you are sick.

A consultation with a doctor usually costs around AU$50 or more, depending on your doctor and your OSHC benefits. Some doctors might ask you to pay in full and claim your insurance benefit back later. Ask about payment when you make your appointment, and always keep your receipts.

On-campus Doctors

There are medical practices available on-campus at:

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healthdirect

healthdirect is a free 24-hour health advice line. If you have a health concern, but you’re not sure what to do next, call healthdirect to speak to a registered nurse. You’ll get health advice and directions to your nearest health services.

For free health advice, call: 1800 022 222

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Medications

You can buy medicines and drugs from a pharmacy, also known as a chemist. You can buy some medications over the counter; others need a prescription from a doctor.

More Information

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Dentists, Optometrists and Physiotherapists

If you need to see a specialist, you can search for local providers in the Yellow Pages or contact your Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) provider to understand what is covered.

Costs for these services can vary, and some treatments can be expensive, so be sure to compare quotes before booking your appointment.

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Common Health Concerns

Sun burn: Australia’s sun can be harsh, so it’s essential to use sunscreen, wear a hat and cover up with clothing that covers your arms, legs, back and neck. Particularly in the middle of the day. More Information here.

Dry skin: South Australia’s dry climate can lead to dry skin. Protect yourself by using moisturisers and lip balm, and by drinking water to stay hydrated.

Colds and flu (influenza): These are relatively common in Australia and usually occur during seasonal changes. If you have symptoms of a sore throat, runny nose, headaches or fever, you should see your doctor. For a Flu vaccine, speak to your doctor or local council.

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Migrant Health Service

The Migrant Health Service is a multilingual access centre where you can get health care and referral services. They offer health assessment, counselling, health education and language services.

Call: 1800 635 566

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Taking Care of Yourself

Taking time for self-care is really important, especially when you are a student. Taking just a few minutes each day for yourself can help reduce anxiety, stress, loneliness and boost your wellbeing.

Simple measures like exercising daily, eating a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, and spending time with others can help us maintain a healthy emotional state, but there are times when this is not enough, and we need extra support.

If you are feeling anxious, depressed or not quite yourself, know that you are not alone, it happens to a lot of us at some point in our lives, and help is available.

Watch the journey stories of Taeyoung and Khushboo, where they share the challenges they faced as international students and the strategies they learned to cope with the circumstances. 

Get some support

If you have tried consistently to improve your mental health and still aren’t functioning at your best, then it's important to find out what's going on and how you can manage it. Sometimes just talking to someone can help you feel better.

As a first step, you may want to talk to someone in your university or school; your institution will offer you support or guide you in the right direction.

Your GP (General Practitioner) can also set you up with a self-care plan that will help you to access counselling or visit a psychologist. Remember that it’s okay to get the support you need.

A number of organisations in South Australia offer free and confidential mental health support services to international students regardless of your age, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or religion.

Trained crisis supporters are ready to listen, support, and help you work through what’s on your mind. Services are confidential and all you need to access them is your student card.

Relationships Australia

ASK PEACE is a free virtual service for people of culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, and if you are not confident speaking English, they can get an interpreter on the line to help understand your issues and concerns.

Call 08 8245 8110

Visit ASK PEACE Multicultural Services

Headspace

eHeadspace is a Headspace initiative offering free online and telephone support and counselling to young people aged 12 – 25 and their families and friends. If you’re going through a tough time, you can call them, join a group chat, or access helpful online resources.

Call 1800 063 267

Visit  Headspace 

Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue has trained counsellors available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Visit their website, chat online or call them for advice and support based on your specific needs.

Call 1300 22 4636

Visit Beyond Blue 

Lifeline

Lifeline also provide advice and support around the clock. You can text or chat online to a counsellor or speak to someone in person.

Call 13 11 14

Visit Lifeline Australia 

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Sexual Health Services

SA Health has put together a fact sheet to help give you a better understanding about sexual health topics, and the healthcare system in SA. View the fact sheet here.

If you have a sexual health question, you can talk confidentially to a nurse by calling the FREE Shine SA Sexual Healthline. 

Shine SA

Call 1300 883 793

Visit SHINE SA | Sexual Health Information Networking & Education 

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Addiction Services

There are a range of services available in South Australia for people who experience problems with alcohol and other drugs, which means there are many options for people with different needs and treatment preferences.

Drug and Alcohol Services SA

Call 1300 131 340

Visit Drug and Alcohol Services | SA Health 

Gambling Helpline

Call 1800 858 858

Visit Gambling Help Online - Free gambling support in Australia 

Student Stories

Hear from international students about living and studying in Adelaide.

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