Did you know?
Australia's modern public infrastructure (housing, water and sanitation) and ready supply of quality controlled food and medicines result in Australian residents generally enjoy a high level of good health. The technical and scientific skills of Western medicine are used in hospitals and by general practitioners to prevent, examine and treat ill health.
All immigrants are required to undergo a pre-entry health examination to ensure diseases (such as yellow fever and avian influenza) are not introduced and that Australians stay healthy. Strict quarantine laws and isolation from the rest of the world also contribute to Australia's status as a relatively disease-free country.
Australia's unique environment can pose a danger in the form of snakes, spiders and sunburn.
Snakes are only usually seen during warm weather. Spiders and snakes don't usually attack unless they feel threatened by you, so it is important not to move towards or touch snakes or spiders in their natural habitat - some species have a painful bite that if untreated can be deadly. If you are bitten by a snake or spider, take note of its colour and markings (to help determine the species and therefore your treatment) and telephone Poisons Information on 13 11 26 immediately.
The heat of the Australian sun can be quite a shock to some visitors. Uncovered skin can become badly burned in only 20 minutes of sun exposure. When outdoors it is important to wear a hat, sunglasses and apply (and regularly reapply) sunscreen (30+ protection factor) to any exposed skin. If you are spending time in the outdoors in the summer months you should also stay well-hydrated by drinking water, staying under shade and avoiding strenuous physical exertion. Not only will you avoid sunburn, but also conditions such as heat exhaustion and heatstroke, which occur when the body cannot effectively cool itself.
Emergency Health Care
The freecall emergency services telephone number in Australia is 000. Interpreter support is available when dealing with health services. You can ask the health service to arrange an interpreter for you.
If you require emergency health care, you may be taken to hospital in an ambulance. This service is not free and not covered by Medicare, but may be included in private health cover. You can also access medical transport insurance through the South Australian Ambulance Service (SAAS).
Australia's Health Care Systems
Public Health Care
The Australian health system delivers high quality care at reasonably low costs through Medicare, which provides free access to public hospitals, concessions on visits to doctors, and subsidised prescription medication through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. New Zealand residents, permanent resident visa holders or persons who have applied for permanent residency and have either a valid Australian working visa, a visa and parent/spouse/child or have permanent residency status can apply. Medicare Australia also has reciprocal health care agreements with some countries should you become sick while visiting Australia. See the Medicare Australia website for more information in a variety of languages.
Private Health Care
Medicare does not cover all health services and private health care can be expensive. Some Australian health funds will provide health insurance cover for overseas visitors. With private hospital care you may have choices such as which hospital you are admitted to and access to a private room. See the Australian Department of Health & Ageing website for more information.
For further comprehensive information about healthcare in Australia, see the DIMA website.
University Health Care Services
The University Health Service is part of Parklands Medical Practice on the North Terrace campus and provides General Practitioner services.
The University also provides the Employee Assistance Program which provides free short term counselling assistance to employees experiencing personal difficulties, whether at work or outside of work.
For general health resources take a look at the University Occupational Health & Safety unit's Health Promotion website.
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