Awardee's frequently asked questions

What accommodation options are available Australia?

What travel arrangements are provided to me?

On what type of visa will I travel?

Should I bring my family with me to Australia in the first semester?

What documents do I need to bring to Australia?

Will I need to bring cash with me to Australia?

How much luggage should I bring to Australia?

What luggage items will I need to declare?

Is health insurance available for me as soon as I arrive in Australia?

Does health insurance cover my family?

I will bring my children to Australia. What kinds of preparation do I need to make?

What should I do if I experience culture shock?

What could I do to make new friends?

Am I allowed to work during my time in Australia?

What services are available for students with disability?

 


What accommodation options are available Australia?

Accommodation can be one of the biggest challenges all students face. There are plenty of housing types to choose from, including on-campus, home-stay and private rental, but these fill up quickly. Think about factors including cost, location, transport and safety. You can also check with your institution to see if they have accommodation support services and find out which suburbs or areas are nearby and recommended for students. Having a good understanding of the types of accommodation options available, as well as their quality, location and cost, will make it much easier and less stressful when you arrive.

Public transport and other services, including banking and medical services, as well as the availability of part-time jobs, also vary widely between cities. Access to transport, services, facilities and amenities, as well as the location of your institution, will have an impact on where you choose to live. The Department of Immigration and Border Protection’s booklet Beginning a life in Australia has essential information on services, public transport and accommodation for each state and territory.

If you think on-campus accommodation is the best option for you, you should register with the Australia Awards Office in Laos who will contact your Institution on your behalf.

Useful websites for finding accommodation are:

Back to top

What travel arrangements are provided to me?

Under Australia Awards Scholarship program, the Australian Government will arrange and pay for your economy class airfare to Australia.

For departure travel, the Australia Awards Office Laos will be in charge. The office will ensure that awardees arrive on or after the recommended date of arrival as specified in the institution’s placement offer. This must be no more than 14 days before the awardee needs to commence the Introductory Academic Program (IAP). However, given the flight availability and unexpected changes related to course arrangement, in practice most awardees will arrive a week before IAP.

Regarding reunion travel, once you qualify for the reunion airfare (be unaccompanied in Australia and be enrolled for a minimum of two academic years in Australia (the academic year can include in-Australia preparatory programs), you must contact the Student Contact Officer at your institution to arrange travel. If you do not use the reunion airfare during the institution semester break, you must provide the Student Contact Officer with written approval from your faculty or research supervisor for the period of travel, and assurance that it will not interfere with your study program. Then the institution will arrange the reunion travel for you.

The institution will be in charge of arranging the completion travel for you.

Back to top

On what type of visa will I travel?

All scholars must travel on an Australian Government’s Student Visa (576).

Family of Australian Government - sponsored students must lodge a 576 dependent visa application with the letter of no objection/support letter from the Australian Embassy Laos.

Breaching visa conditions, for example working more than the allowed number of hours, may result in your visa being cancelled. It is your responsibility to make sure you have a valid passport and visa while you are studying in Australia. If you have any issues while you are here, see your Student Contact Officer as soon as possible.

Immigration processes often take time, so do not leave it to the last minute.

Back to top

Should I bring my family with me to Australia in the first semester?

Your first semester of study will be busy and demanding, and you will need all your focus and attention to ensure you settle into your study routine. It is better if you attend the compulsory Introductory Academic Program and become established in your program of studies without the distraction of family responsibilities

Thus, we strongly encourage you not to bring your family members to Australia in the first six months of study.

If you decide to bring your family to Australia, you should make arrangements for them prior to your departure from Laos. If you decide to bring your family to Australia after you have indicated you would not bring them to Australia, contact the Student Contact Officer at your Institution about accommodation, as well as schooling and child care for dependents. You should contact the Department of Immigration and Border Protection for information about current visa requirements for accompanying family, and liaise with the Australia Awards Office in Laos to obtain support during your family's visa application process.

Back to top

What documents do I need to bring to Australia?

  • Documents that you should bring include
  • Your ticket and travel itinerary
  • Your passport
  • Your driver’s license (including the certified translation of this license)
  • Your DFAT’s letter of offer
  • Other documents that are listed in your letter of offer (such as degree and transcript)

Note: Carry photocopies of these documents in case you lose them.

  • Consider bringing your medical history and, if you are travelling with medication, a letter from your doctor and copies of your prescriptions.
  • Other documents that could be useful for you, and your family if they join you in Australia, include
    • Birth certificates,
    • Vaccination logbook/record of immunisation history for your children
    • Your marriage certificate,
    • Academic records
    • Job references.

      Back to top

Will I need to bring cash with me to Australia?

Your Establishment Allowance and Contribution to Living Expenses (CLE) will be paid into your bank account soon after you arrive.

But you will still need Australian currency to cover expenses in the first few days of your stay. It is strongly recommended that you have at least $500 Australian dollars when you arrive to cover costs such as food and temporary accommodation. You can change money at the airport when you arrive and credit cards are also widely accepted.

Back to top

How much luggage should I bring to Australia?

Airlines limit the weight of luggage you can bring free of charge. If you bring too much and exceed these limits, you will be charged an excess baggage fee, which the Australian Government won’t cover.

Please note that most Australia Award Scholarship awardees from Laos who will travel to Melbourne or Sydney will have a mandatory baggage allowance of 20kg.  For domestic flights in Australia (awardees who travel to other states not Victoria or New South Wales), the maximum baggage allowance of 20kg.

Be sure to pack for the season and your destination’s climate. If you are arriving in Townsville in summer for example, you won’t need warm clothing. If you are arriving in Melbourne in winter however, then warm clothes will be essential.

Remember, you will be able to buy most, if not all the items that you need in Australia, including clothing and household goods.

Back to top

What luggage items will I need to declare?

Australia has strict quarantine laws to protect our native plants, animals and agriculture against pests and diseases. When you arrive in Australia, you must declare all food and other plant and animal material as many of these are banned.

If you are carrying food or plant items, declare them, even if you think they are allowed. The airline staff will give you an incoming passenger card, which you must use to declare these items before your aircraft lands. If you do not, you could be given an on-the-spot fine or face prosecution.

Other items you should declare include medicines and large amounts of cash in foreign currency. There are also strict limits on the number of cigarettes and the amount of alcohol you can bring into Australia.

The Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) is responsible for managing quarantine laws and its officers are located at every international port in Australia. Officers review and assess each incoming passenger card and X-ray and inspect baggage. They also have dogs at baggage carousels that are trained to sniff luggage and detect prohibited items. If you are carrying prohibited items, including food or plant items, you are very likely to be caught.

There have also been many cases of prohibited goods, mainly food such as spices or seeds, being mailed to overseas students studying in Australia. Warn your family and friends not to send you food or other plant and animal products, because AQIS checks all parcels for illegal items and heavy fines are levied.

Australia is a multicultural society, and specialty shops mean nearly all the food or ingredients you want can be purchased here.

Never carry illicit drugs. Penalties for drug offences in Australia are severe and could result in a jail term.

Please refer to the Department of Agriculture Arriving in Australia - Declare it! site for an extended list of items you have to declare.

Back to top

Is health insurance available for me as soon as I arrive in Australia?

When you come to Australia you should be aware 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 Australian Government’s 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 coverage has been designed to provide a ‘Medicare equivalent’ to international students.

OSHC will help you pay for any basic medical and hospital care you may need while you are 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 information please contact the Student Contact Officer at your institution.

Pre-existing medical conditions are not covered. Dental or optical treatments or physiotherapy and are also not covered. You are advised to have any dental treatment or to purchase additional glasses before you depart Vietnam as these are very expensive in Australia.

 If you want to be covered for these treatments, it is your responsibility to buy additional private health insurance at your own expense.

Please also refer to the health care information.

Back to top

Does health insurance cover my family?

If your family travels to Australia, the Australian Government is not responsible for their OSHC, you will need to purchase health insurance for them. Your Student Contact Officer will be able to provide you with information on health insurance for your family, or visit the Department of Immigration and Border Protection.

Back to top

I will bring my children to Australia. What kinds of preparation do I need to make?

If you need childcare, you will need to book early because there is often a long waiting period for places—sometimes six months or more. Childcare is also expensive in Australia and can cost at least $70 a day and higher in some states.

Your children can attend public government funded primary and secondary schools, which have low costs. You need to arrange school enrolment for your children before they can obtain a visa.

Email your Student Contact Officer about schools and childcare providers near your institution. Remember that your family must be covered by OSHC. This is not funded by the Australian Government and you are responsible for purchasing.

Please note that all accompanying family must travel on a 576 dependent visa.  Remember you will not be eligible to receive the reunion airfare entitlement if your family accompanies you during your studies, regardless of what visa type the travel on.

Back to top

What should I do if I experience culture shock?

After being very happy at first, many students experience emotional turmoil as they adjust to life in Australia. This is ‘culture shock’, and many will experience it again when they return home, with their self-esteem swinging between highs and lows.

Educational institutions are aware of this reaction and can help you manage it, for example through on-campus counselling services.

If you feel sad and lonely, you are not alone. The first thing you should do is talk to your Student Contact Officer. They will be able to talk to you about your feelings and advise you on actions that will help you feel better.

Keep in contact with your family through email, Skype, Facebook, telephone and other social networks.

Back to top

What could I do to make new friends?

There will be plenty of people eager to make friends once you get into university life.

Do not be afraid to approach people and strike up a conversation. Being proactive and meeting different people on campus and in the community can lead to rewarding friendships and support.

Some students, especially PhD candidates who work in isolation, find it difficult to meet new friends. You can make the process easier by joining a campus club, doing volunteer work, playing sport or moving into shared accommodation. You can also meet people through religious or children’s activities.

Back to top

Am I allowed to work during my time in Australia?

You and dependent family members travelling with you are allowed to work. You do not need to apply separately for a work permit.

Some Australia Awards awardees get work on campus as tutors. Other awardees work off campus, for example in the service industry. Types of work available vary greatly between regions.

However, few Australia Awards awardees meet Australian requirements for certain professions, such as medicine and teaching.

We advise against working during term as it could disrupt your studies.

You can work up to 20 hours per week while your course is in session, and unlimited hours during session breaks. Work that is part of your course is not counted.

Back to top

What services are available for students with disability?

If you have a disability, you will find services and facilities in Australia are well planned and easy to access. Australians are helpful and easy going, and do not discriminate against those with disability.

Educational institutions are required to provide on-campus support and ensure access and equity for all students. The Australian Government is responsible for off-campus support for students with disability. In Australia, most community-based services and facilities, including public transport, restaurants, shopping centres and public libraries, are accessible for people with disability.

Be sure to let the Australia Awards Office Laos know in advance if you have special accessibility requirements as these can easily be arranged for you.  You should also advise the Student Contact Officer at your Institution when you arrive in Australia or later if you should suffer from some difficulties.

Back to top