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Health advice is only a phone call away. The Queensland Government provides 13 HEALTH, a handy health information tool that is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to all Queenslanders for the cost of a local call. This confidential phone service allows you to talk to a registered nurse whenever you need. 

To utilise this service, call 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84) and a registered nurse will provide a comprehensive evaluation of your symptoms and recommend further action.

13 HEALTH is highly accessible and works with interpreting services for spoken languages, as well as text and relay services for those who are deaf or hard of hearing.

While this is a great service, it should not replace face-to-face medical consultations. In an emergency please dial Triple Zero (000).

Physical health

Australia has a highly developed healthcare system that is recognised for its excellent medical services. Queensland provides a range of services aimed at achieving good health and overall well-being.

Most Australians are covered by a national health insurance system called Medicare, which means the government pays for some medical costs. Many Australians also choose to take out private health insurance to supplement their Medicare cover. Most international students are not covered under Medicare and will instead be required to take out Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC)


Unless it is an emergency, a doctor, also known as a GP (for ‘general practitioner’), is the first person many Australians visit for a health concern. If you are feeling unwell and it is not an emergency, you can visit a GP at your local medical centre. For most GP and medical centre services you will need to make an appointment first. There are also some 24-hour medical centres that will allow walk-ins without an appointment. 

You can also organise a doctor to visit you in your home through the National Home Doctor Service.

Whether you go to the GP or organise a home appointment, you will be required to pay for your medical visit up front. Remember to bring your OSHC membership card to present with payment and keep all receipts if you plan to make a claim to your OSHC.

A doctor may give you a prescription for medication, which you can purchase at a pharmacy or chemist. It is important to alert your doctor to any current medications and supplements you are taking before you begin any prescription medication. Not all prescription medicines will be covered by your health insurance so you will need to check with your provider to see which medicines are covered. You should keep all receipts for medication to make a claim. The pharmacist may offer you a generic brand of medication, which will be cheaper.

You may be recommended to have further testing such as blood tests, x-rays, and scans. There are many facilities in Queensland that offer these services.

If you must miss class or cannot submit an assignment due to your illness, you will be required to give a medical certificate to your education provider. A GP can issue this for you. This certificate is proof that you were sick.

If a GP believes you need more specialised help, they may refer you to a specialist doctor. To visit a specialist doctor you will need a referral from a GP.


There are two types of hospitals in Queensland – public and private. 

Anyone can access public health services. If your doctor or specialist recommends you go to hospital for testing, an operation or other treatment in the public system, they will send a letter to the hospital to ask for your admission. You will then be put on a register and the hospital will let you know how long you can expect to wait before admission. 

Public hospitals in Australia are considered to be of a high standard with highly trained medical professionals. Patients are admitted to public hospitals based on how urgently they require treatment, but you will not get to choose the doctor who treats you or the hospital you are admitted to.

At a private hospital you will be able to choose your doctor, hospital and treatment time. Private hospitals usually have a shorter waiting time for your treatment and your hospital stay may be made more comfortable with a private room and other optional extras. Your insurance may cover some or all the costs of private health.

Although emergency departments in both public and private hospitals are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, they can be busy places with long wait times. If you have the ability to visit a GP or medical centre we recommend doing so. In an emergency, call Triple Zero (000).

When visiting a hospital remember to bring your health insurance card and any medicines you are currently taking. 

What to do in an emergency

In the case of an emergency please dial Triple Zero (000) to reach ambulance, fire brigade and police services. There are no costs involved in calling the police or fire brigade and the costs associated with ambulance services may be covered by your OSHC.

In Queensland, emergency treatment is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at both public and private hospital emergency departments, as well as some medical centres. However, if you require immediate medical attention it is important to dial Triple Zero (000). 

Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC)

International students who are studying in Australia are required to have health and medical insurance for the length of their student visa from an approved OSHC provider such as ahm, Allianz Global Assistance, BUPA, CBHS International Health, Medibank Private and NIB.

This cover must be for the student and any dependents that are coming with them to Australia.

As an international student you cannot arrive in Australia before the commencement of your health insurance cover. You must keep your policy up to date while you are in Australia and holding a student visa.

OSHC is insurance for international students that covers the costs of any medical care required while in Australia. This type of insurance will cover basic, general medical and hospital treatment and provides limited cover for pharmaceuticals and ambulance services.

If you would like health insurance for additional services such as dental, physiotherapy, optometry, podiatry, chiropractic, and private hospital services, you will need to purchase additional cover from your OSHC provider.

Many Queensland universities have a preferred OSHC provider and will assist you in organising your insurance. Alternatively, you can take out OSHC directly from the insurance provider. Each OSHC provider will offer you a varying policy, so it is important to check your specific policy for the full details as to what is and isn’t covered. Any expenses that are not covered will have to be paid by you. 

If you are from a country that has a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement with Australia, you may be able to apply for Medicare, which may cover additional medical expenses. It is important to note that Medicare is not a substitute for OSHC.

You may also like to take out additional travel insurance to cover you while travelling to and from Australia.