Moving to a new country with children can be a challenge. The following information aims to help you through the adjustment phases involved in coming to Australia with children.
If you have any questions about your children's needs that aren't answered on this page, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Australia's education system and the legal requirements for children's study may be different to that of your home country.
- In South Australia, it is compulsory for children to be enrolled in a primary school by their sixth birthday.
- Most children begin the first year of primary school (called reception) when they are five years old.
- Before the age of six, kindergarten (preschool) can be considered optional, and usually forms a bridge between full-time child care (for babies and very young children) and formal schooling.
For an overview of the South Australian education system, please see the South Australian Government's website.
In Australia, child care is available for children until they start school (usually at the age of five). Children between the age of four and five are entitled to attend kindergarten, but only for the equivalent of four half-days per week (see the Preschool section for more information). If you have a four-year-old child, you may choose to use a combination of child care and kindergarten.
Child care centres provide care for babies, toddlers and children less than six years of age. Care may be provided for part of a day or for full days. Most centres are open for a minimum of eight hours a day, 5 days a week, 48 weeks a year. Permanent or regular bookings are usually required.
There are child care centres on the University's North Terrace and Wait campuses. For further information, see the Child Care Services website.
As an alternative to child care, Family Day Care is a childcare service for babies, young children and school aged children in the homes of approved care providers. Family Day Care is where a professional carer looks after your child in their home. It is sometimes known as home-based care.
Preschool and kindergarten
Preschool services are provided for children in the year prior to their first year at school. They aim to further children's social, emotional, physical and intellectual development, their knowledge and understanding of the world, and to enhance their transition to school. A preschool may also be known as a kindergarten, CPC (child parent centre), or children's services centre.
Your child is entitled to attend preschool ‘full-time’ provided they will be turning four before 1 May of that year. 'Full time' means four sessions per week. Sessions last for up to three hours. Arrangements can be flexible depending on need; for example, in some circumstances two sessions a day may be arranged. Depending on the size and location of the preschool a range of staff will be working in the centre to support your child's needs.
Primary and secondary school
In Australia, school attendance is compulsory for all children in aged between six and sixteen years of age, with most children commencing school at five years of age. In addition:
- Primary school covers years Reception to Year 7 (ages five to 12), though school is not compulsory until your child is six (Year 1).
- Secondary school (or high school) covers Year 8 to Year 12 (ages 13 to 17).
- School attendance is from Monday to Friday, and generally from 8.45am to 3.30 pm each day.
- The academic year commences in late January, and the year is divided into four terms of approximately ten weeks each.
- There is a six-week holiday over the Christmas period and shorter holidays between each term.
- There are two main types of schools: government (public), and independent (private) schools - see the below section for more information.
Choosing a school
In choosing a school, you will need to consider many factors, including:
- The educational program and facilities on offer
- The distance from your home or campus
- Public transport access
- English language support (particularly if your child speaks little or no English)
- Availability of before- and after- hours school care and vacation care
English support for children
Newly arrived primary school students can enrol in an Intensive English Language Centre (IELC). Secondary school students can enrol in a New Arrivals Program (NAP). These programs provide:
- intensive English language support from specialist teachers of English as an Additional Language or Dialect (EALD)
- a modified curriculum for school aged children
- a variety of activities within the school and local community, including excursions and social events
- bilingual classroom support.
For further information and a list of schools offering the IELC and NAP, please see the Department for Education's website
Government or private school?
Government (public) school
In order to enrol your child in a Government school, you must firstly register with the Department for Education and Child Development (DECD). You are required to complete either:
- the Dependants of Australian Scholarship Holders application form (if you receive a scholarship - eg, Australia Awards, University scholarship, or home government scholarship), or
- the Dependants of International Students application form (if you are a full fee paying student)
For more information, please see the Department for Education's website
When you register your child with the Department for Education, you will be given a Letter of Authority that you can take to the school of your choice. While you are free to choose any government school, not all schools will have places available. You will have a better chance of gaining a place if you live in the geographical zone for that particular school, or if the school offers a particular program or subject that your child wants to study; for example, if it offers a particular language (see above section).
Finding a public school
You can search for a school near your place of residence through the Department for Education's database.
Schools are listed as Primary or High/Secondary. A College is often a secondary school. Area schools generally include both primary and secondary levels. Schools are listed by name/suburb title, so it is a good idea to look for schools in suburbs near your house.
Private (independent) school
There are many types of independent schools and many are affiliated with religious organisations. For example, you might choose to send your child to a Catholic, Anglican, Islamic, or Jewish school. Some independent schools may not have a religious association but may follow a particular educational philosophy, as do the Waldorf and Montessori Schools.
Fees for independent schools vary greatly, and you will need to contact the schools directly to find out what they charge. Fees can range from $1,000 - $20,000 per year for primary students and $2,500 - $25,000 per year for secondary students. Some private schools begin from Reception (first year of school) and continue to Year 12 (last year of school).
Finding a private school
See the Association of Independent Schools of South Australia's website, or the website of Catholic Education South Australia.
Government school fee information
Government school fees
Fees for the children of international students attending government schools are subsidised. School fees for the next several years are available on the Department for Education's website.
2018 fees for children of full fee-paying international tertiary students were $5,400 per year for primary school, and $6,600 per year for secondary school. This single fee includes intensive English language development and support.
There is also an application fee of $630 per family for the first year, which then changes to a $310 per child annual administration fee.
You will also be required to pay the School Materials and Services Fee each year. This is a fee paid by all parents – local and international. It helps the school buy exercise books, pens and other personal resources for students. This annual fee is set by the school and ranges from $110 up to $920 per child per year, depending on the school and level of services offered.
Please see children of full fee-paying international tertiary students for the most current information.
Exemptions from fees
Australian Government sponsored students
If you are the holder of an Australian Government scholarship (Australia Awards or Endeavour scholarships) then your dependent children can attend government schools and pay the same fees as local students.
Please ensure you lodge the Dependants of Australian Scholarship Holders application form with the Department for Education - see Steps 1 -5, below. The Letter of Authority you receive from the Department for Education will explain to your child's school that you have an exemption from fees.
As of 1 July 2009, the South Australian Government is extending fee waivers for the education of dependant children to Research Students (PhD and Masters by Research) in receipt of a scholarship from their home government. This includes scholarships from public universities and statutory bodies and multilateral agencies. Please note that the eligibility for the fee waiver does not extend to research students who are self-funded or in receipt of a scholarship from a private agency or company.
If you hold an approved scholarship and have children attending a State Government primary or secondary school and want to apply for a fee exemption, please take the following steps.
Dependents of scholarship holders application form
- Step 1 - Complete the dependants of scholarship holders application form.
- Step 2 - Bring the completed form along with your passport and e-visa letter (if you do not have a visa label in your passport), your children’s passports, evidence of your scholarship, and a copy of your current Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE) to International Student Support. If you do not have a copy of your current CoE, we can provide you with a copy.
- Step 3 - International Student Support will complete a Tertiary Scholarship Verification Form as proof of your eligibility for dependant fee waivers.
- Step 4 - International Student Support will scan all of the required documents and send them via email to the Department for Education.
- Step 5 - The Department for Education will contact you directly with their decision, generally via email.
The way that the Australian healthcare system works, and how you and your child access it, may be very different to the system in your home country.
- For all non-emergency medical situations (eg, a cold or a headache), you should visit a General Practitioner (GP) doctor. In emergency situations (eg, a heart attack or broken bone), you can call an ambulance (on 000) and/or visit the emergency room of a hospital.
- Many international students and their dependents will have Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC), which is a condition of student visas, and helps pay for medical and hospital services while you’re studying in Australia.
If you or your child has a medical emergency, immediately call 000 (the Australian emergency services phone number).
General information about children's health can be found on the Australian Government's Children's Health and Immunisation site.
If your child is sick
Depending on what kind of illness your child has, you will need to take them to different services. The following information has been sourced from the Australian Government's Health Direct service.
General practioners (GP)
General Practiotioners (GPs) are the first point of call for most people for most illnesses. GPs usually practice from offices in the community, in non-hosptial locations. If your child has a non-emergency illness, you should visit a GP, and not a hospital.
Examples of non-emergency illnesses are: a cold, a stomach-ache, ear pain, or a sore throat.
- You can visit any GP you choose, but there is a University Health Practice with GPs on the North Terrace campus.
- You can get free, 24-hour health advice from Health Direct, by calling 1800 022 222.
- You can book an after-hours home visit appointment with a GP by calling the National Home Doctor Service on 137 425 (13 SICK).
- If you see a doctor who 'direct bills' (or 'bulk bills'), you're less likely to have to pay for your visit. It's therefore important to make sure you ask your doctor if they 'direct bill' (or 'bulk bill') when you make your first appointment. See the below Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) section for more detail.
Emergency departments (EDs)
Emergency Departments (EDs) are able to treat patients who need urgent medical or surgical care. Most EDs are located in, and operated by, public hospitals throughout Australia. If your child has an emergency illness, call 000, or go directly to the emergency room of a public hospital. It is important to note that most private hospitals do not have facilities to accept emergency patients.
Examples of emergency illnesses are: extremely high fevers, broken bones, seizures, injuries that need stitching, heavy bleeding that can't be stopped by applying pressure, or large burns.
- See SA Health for information about hospital locations.
- The emergency phone number 000 is for ambulance, police, and fire services.
- If you are not sure whether your medical condition is urgent, contact your doctor or call Health Direct on 1800 022 222 for advice.
Your doctor won't give you medication during your appointment. Instead, they'll give you a prescription, which you'll need to take to a pharmacy (also called a chemist) so you can buy your medication there. You can also buy non-prescription medicines such as headache tablets from a pharmacy. Pharmacists can also:
- advise you about how medicines should be taken, or used in the safest and most effective way to treat common problems.
- advise you about both over-the-counter and prescription medicines, including which ones to choose, how they'll help with your condition, how much to take, how they can interact with other medications, and what their side effects are.
- choose, give advice on and supply non-prescription medicine, such as pain relief tablets and basic medical supplies.
Immunisation protects children (and adults) against harmful infections before they come into contact with them in the community. Immunisation uses the body’s immune system to build resistance to specific infections. Nine diseases can be prevented by routine childhood immunisation:
- Whooping cough
- Poliomyelitis (polio)
- Haemophilus influenza type b
- Hepatitis B
National immunisation program schedule
The National Immunisation Program Schedule incorporates all vaccines recommended as 'best practice'. Immunisation providers are responsible for advising patients and parents/caregivers of available vaccine choices at the time of consultation, including those provided free under the National Immunisation Program. For information about the National Immunisation Program visit Immunise Australia or contact the SA Health helpline: 1300 232 272.
- Immunisation is required to apply for the Childcare Benefit / Rebate and for enrolment into child care. Parents therefore need to prepare a record of immunisation before coming to South Australia, and get updates from local GPs to put information on the Australian Childhood Immunisation Register website.
- Immunisation support can be sought through the Government-supported Health and Immunisation Management Service (HAIMS). HAIMS provides the following services: checking if your child is up-to-date with their vaccinations according to the Australian schedule; supporting ‘catch-up’ vaccinations if required; linking you and your family with a doctor and/or immunisation provider; and more.
Dental services for children
Dental services are generally not included in Overseas Student Health Care (OSHC) policies, and can often be very expensive for adults (both international and local). Before visiting any dentist, it is therefore important to enquire in advance as to consultation and treatment fees.
However, in South Australia, there is a free dental service for children aged five and below. The annual cost for children between five and 18 without Medicare is also relatively cheap or free.
- Make an appointment for your children through the SA Health website.
- If your child has an dental emergency such as facial swelling, bleeding or trauma, during business hours, contact one of SA Health's clinics.
- If your child has an emergency after hours, call healthdirect Australia on 1800 022 222.
- For more information visit SA Health's dental emergencies, what you need to know and do.
Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC)
Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) is health insurance that meets student visa health cover requirements and helps you pay for medical and hospital services while you’re studying in Australia. The University of Adelaide's preferred OSHC provider is Allianz Global Assistance.
For an overview of how OSHC works, Allianz Global Assistance provide a good introduction.
- Any family members accompanying you to Australia as dependants on your student visa, including children, must also have Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC).
- If your child will be joining you in Australia as a subsequent entrant, you will need to change your OSHC policy to include your child. Please contact your OSHC provider directly about arranging this.
- Staff from Allianz Global Assistance are available in Hub Central, North Terrace campus, from 10:00am - 4.00pm, Monday - Friday.
- Other OSHC providers:
Women's and Children's Hospital
The Women’s and Children’s Hospital provides emergency care to the children of South Australia, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The hospital is the leading provider of specialist care for children with acute and chronic conditions in South Australia, as well as the state's largest maternity and obstetric service.
Address 72 King William Road, North Adelaide Phone (08) 8161 7000 Emergency Phone Number 000 Website www.wch.sa.gov.au General Enquiries & After Hours (08) 8161 7044 Times Open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
Phone: 1300 364 100 (Local call cost from anywhere in South Australia)
The Parent Helpline provides advice for dads, mums and carers on baby and child health and parenting, including feeding and settling babies.
Phone: 1800 55 1800
The Kids Helpline provides information on a broad range of topics for children and young people up to 25 years, including about becoming a parent.
If you are sponsored by your home government or employer you may wish to check directly with your sponsor as to whether any financial assistance is available to you to cover the cost of approved or registered child care (approved care and registered care are classifications associated with the different types of care for which you can receive Child Care Benefit, if assessed as eligible).
Please note that most sponsored and private fee paying students are solely responsible for the cost of child care, except those students who receive an Australian Commonwealth Government Scholarship. Students who are recipients of Australian Commonwealth Government Scholarships may be eligible for Child Care Benefit (CCB) (For example, Australia Awards Scholarships, Endeavour scholarship recipients).
Child care subsidy
The Child Care Subsidy are payments to help with the cost of day care, outside school hours care, vacation care, pre-school, and kindergarten. These payments are accessible only for Australian Government sponsored students (ie, Australia Awards and Endeavour scholarship recipients).
Payment rates depend on your income and are subject to change.
In order to access the Child Care Subsidy, you need to meet the following requirements:
- use approved or registered child care
- be responsible for paying the child care fees for your child
- ensure your child is immunised, on an immunisation catch up schedule, or is exempt from the immunisation requirements, and
- meet the residence requirements (ie, Australian citizen, permanent resident, or Commonwealth scholarship recipient)
For more information about the Child Care Subsidy, please see:
- The Department of Human Services - Child Care Subsidy
- The Department of Education and Traning - Overview of Child Care Subsidy
Before considering to bring your child(ren) to Australia with you, it is a good idea to confirm in advance the tuition fees at public schools. If you choose to send your child to a private school, you will need to contact that school directly to enquire about their tuition fees.
Public Primary Schools (Reception - Year 7)
Your student status 2019 annual fees Full fee-paying international student $5,400 per child (plus $630 application fee) (external link) South Australian endorsed scholarship holder (eg, Australia Awards, University scholarship, home government scholarship, etc.) Tuition fee waiver (external link) Non-student visa holding Non-student visa fees (external link)
Public Secondary Schools (Year 8 - Year 12)
Your student status 2019 annual fees Full fee-paying international student $6,600 per child (plus $630 application fee) (external link) South Australian endorsed scholarship holder (eg, Australia Awards, University scholarship, home government scholarship, etc.) Tuition fee waiver (external link) Non-student visa holding Non-student visa holders (external link)
There are many parks, playgrounds, and activities around Adelaide that you and your children can visit. Below is a list of some of these locations, along with some shopping tips for cheaper stores around the city.
Parks, zoos, and playgrounds
Parks and gardens
Many public parks, located throughout Adelaide and its suburbs, have free barbeque (BBQ) facilities for the public to use.
- A-Z activity guide for Adelaide's Parklands
- The Botanic Gardens
- The Mount Lofty Botanic Gardens
- Rymill Park
- Elder Park
- Waterfall Gully
Zoos and wildlife parks
- The Adelaide Zoo
- Monarto Zoological Park
- Cleland Wildlife Park
- Gorge Wildlife Park
- Morialta Conservation Park
Galleries, museums, and libraries
Art galleries and museums
- Art Gallery of South Australia
- The South Australian Museum
- The Maritime Museum
- The Aviation Museum
- National Railway Museum
- South Australia's more than 130 public libraries work collaboratively to provide a service to all South Australians. Libraries around the state provide a wide range of events, programs and services that cater to all ages and interests.
- Attached to many public libraries are toy libraries where you can borrow toys for children of different ages and obtain information about various community activities for children.
- The State Library of South Australia is located a short walk from the University's North Terrace campus
You don't need to pack absolutely everything for your child before coming to Australia - there are many reasonably-priced stores that sell clothing, baby goods, toys, and so on.
Clothing, homewares, etc
|Service / Area||Phone number|
|Emergency - ambulance, fire, police||000|
|Police assistance - non urgent||131 444|
|Women's and Children's Hospital||8161 7000|
|Parent Helpline - 24 hour service||1300 364 100|
|Report child abuse||131 478|
|Paediatric Emergency - 24 hour service||8161 7044|
|Domestic violence helpline||1800 737 732|
|Lifeline - phone counselling service||13 11 14|
|Men's line Australia - 24 hour service||1300 789 978|
|Parenting SA||8226 1000|
|Pregnancy SA infoline||1300 368 820|
|Pregnancy counselling Australia - 24 hour service, counselling and information for pregnant women and their families||1300 737 732|
|Rape and sexual assault service||1800 817 421|
|Rape and sexual assault - 24 hour emergency line||8226 8777|
|Victim support service - for victims of crime||1800 842 846|
|Women's healthline||1300 882 880|
Please Note: Calls from a land line to 1800 numbers are free of charge.