Health and Medical Information
Medical services in Western Australia may be different to those in your home country. It’s important for you to know how the medical system works here and how you can look after your health as an international student.
One of the student visa requirements is that you must have Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) during your stay in Australia. OSHC gives you access to general and in-hospital medical services, and covers some of the costs for most prescription drugs and emergency ambulance transport.
Looking after your health in summer
Summers in Perth are very hot, so you need to take extra care to protect yourself from the sun and its effects.
You can get sun-burnt very quickly on a hot day. You should always put sunscreen on your skin before you go out, even if you won’t be outside for very long. If possible, wear long clothes and a hat. If you get sun-burnt, you can buy after-sun cream at a pharmacy. If you’re very burnt, you may need to see a doctor.
Remember to drink plenty of water and carry a bottle of water with you.
Seeing a doctor or dentist
If you have to see a doctor in Western Australia, you need to make an appointment with a general practitioner (GP). GPs are located at private medical centres throughout Perth.
A GP can help you with health check-ups, general health concerns, medicine prescriptions and vaccinations. They can also give you a referral to see a specialist if you have a particular health issue.
If you have a toothache or need a dental check-up, you can see a dentist at any private dental clinic in Perth. Please note that OSHC may not cover dental treatment. As dental services in Australia are expensive, you should consider having a dental check and any necessary treatment before you leave home.
To visit a doctor or a dentist, you’ll need to call and make an appointment first. You can go to any GP or dental practice in Perth, but the one near your accommodation or campus is probably most convenient.
Some education providers have medical services available on campus.
You’ll need to pay for your consultation straight after your appointment. If you have OSHC, you’ll be able to claim it from your health insurance company.
You can find more information about what health and medical services are covered by OSHC on the Department of Health and Ageing website.
Going to hospital
In Australia, people usually only go to hospital in case of emergency or for specialist treatment or surgery. If you’re slightly ill or you need a prescription for medicine, you shouldn’t go to hospital – see a GP instead.
If you’ve been injured or you feel seriously ill, you should go to the emergency department at your nearest hospital or call an ambulance.
More information about hospital emergency services in Western Australia is available on the Department of Health website.
Seeing a specialist
In most cases, you need a letter of referral from a GP to see a specialist such as a dermatologist, to get an x-ray or to have a blood test. If you have a particular health concern, see a GP first for advice and referral.
Pharmacies are also called ‘chemists’. There are many pharmacies in Perth and most university campuses have one.
You can buy a variety of health products from a pharmacy, including medicines, vitamins, first-aid products and personal hygiene products. Many medications such as pain relief tablets are available to buy over the counter at the pharmacy. Some types of medications such as antibiotics must be prescribed by a doctor – you should get a prescription from your GP first and then take it to a pharmacy.
If you’re not feeling well but you don’t think you need to see a doctor, you can see a pharmacist instead. All pharmacies have qualified pharmacists who can give you some health advice and recommend medications.
For more information on Living in Western Australia
Visit the Perth Education City website.