Arriving in Australia

Student Contact Officer

Your educational institution will appoint a Student Contact Officer to help you while you are studying in Australia.

This officer works with academic and administrative staff to answer any questions you have, and helps ensure you have the information and assistance you need to support you and your studies. Support can include daily contact to check you are managing in your new environment, help with your studies, and or emotional support and mentoring.

Temporary accommodation

When you arrive in Australia, a representative from your institution will meet you at the airport. They’ll take you to your temporary accommodation, which will already be arranged.

If your family is arriving at the same time, you must let the institution know, so they can make the right arrangements for you and your family.

You must pay for your temporary accommodation, but your institution will ensure that it’s moderately priced and has everything you need. There will be cooking facilities or places to buy food close by. Your institution can also give you information about shopping and public transport.

If you don’t need temporary accommodation on your arrival, make sure you confirm this with Aus4Skills and your institution. If you don’t let the institution know, they will arrange accommodation and you will have to pay for it, even if you don’t use it.

It is your responsibility to find and pay for long-term accommodation, but your institution will help you.

Compulsory Introductory Academic Program

As an Australia Awards Scholar you must participate in a compulsory Introductory Academic Program before your course begins. This lasts for about four to six weeks and is a very important step in completing your studies in Australia.

The program is designed by your educational institution to prepare you for the hard work that will be required to gain an Australian tertiary qualification. It includes lots of practical advice to help you make major academic, social and cultural adjustments to life in Australia.

By the end of the program, you’ll be equipped to overcome any barriers that might prevent you from completing your course successfully and on time.


Australian language includes unique terms, or slang, which many overseas visitors find hard to understand, even those who speak English as a first language. In Australia you’ll hear words that are new or unusual as well as lots of abbreviations and shortened forms of words and phrases.

It’s a good idea to purchase an Australian slang dictionary or access one onlineAs well as using slang terms, Australians have a habit of shortening words, or making them less formal, especially people’s names. This is an indication of acceptance and friendship.

Addressing people

Australian culture is generally informal. People usually call acquaintances by their first names. However, formal titles such Mr, Mrs, Miss, Ms, Doctor and Professor are often used when addressing someone unfamiliar or older than you for the first time.

Dressing up or down?

Dress codes vary widely. Many workplaces and venues have high standards, while at other times, many Australians wear clothes which you may think immodest, especially in summer or at the beach.

Don’t be surprised. You’re not expected to conform. As a multicultural community, you’ll find many people of different backgrounds dressing according to their cultural requirements.

Casual clothing is the standard campus ‘uniform’. However, it’s common to see international students in traditional dress among those in jeans and t-shirts. Australia Awards Scholars often wear national dress to formal events, so it’s a good idea to bring at least one set of your formal, traditional, religious or customary dress.

As easy-going as Australians are, there are some customs we observe, such as arriving on time and not spitting. Many are set out in the Department of Home Affairs’s Life in Australia booklet.

Health insurance for you

When you come to Australia it’s important you know what health and medical services are available to you.

Australia has a special system of health cover for international students called Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC). It is the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trades’ responsibility to ensure you are provided with OSHC by your institution. You are not covered by Australia’s national health cover system, Medicare Australia.

OSHC will help you pay for any basic medical and hospital care you may need while you’re studying in Australia, and will also help meet the cost of most prescription medicines, and an ambulance in an emergency. It is your responsibility to understand what your OSHC does and does not cover. Information regarding your OSHC provider and cover is provided by your institution. If you have not received this please contact the Student Contact Officer at your institution.

Health insurance for your family

If your family travels to Australia, they are not covered by your Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade funded insurance policy for any medical expenses they may have, including expenses associated with pregnancy. You will need to purchase additional health insurance for them. Your Student Contact Officer will be able to provide you with information or visit

Additional information