Students with Children

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.

  • Child Care

    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.

    Please note that fees for child care vary greatly, and you will need to contact the providers directly to find out what they charge. Fees can range from $120+ per day.

    Further information

    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 Waite campuses. For further information, see the Child Care Services website.

    As an alternative to child care, Family Day Care is a child care 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:

    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. 

    Exemptions from fees

    If you have been awarded a full tuition fee waiver for your South Australian government endorsed scholarship, your children will also be eligible for a full tuition fee waiver for the length of your scholarship.

    Approved scholarships include:

    • an Australian government scholarship (e.g. AusAwards or International Postgraduate Research Scholarship)
    • a South Australian government scholarship
    • a South Australian tertiary institution scholarship
    • an approved scholarship from student’s home country (e.g. students sponsored by their home country government (including public universities and statutory bodies), a provincial or state government of their home country, or a multilateral agency (e.g. United Nations, World Bank or Asian Development Bank))

    To apply for a fee waiver for your children, please follow the steps on the Department of Education's website.



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 (e.g. 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 Health Direct 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 practitioners (GP)

    General Practitioners (GPs) are the first point of call for most people for most illnesses. GPs usually practice from offices in the community, in non-hospital 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

    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:

    • Diphtheria
    • Tetanus
    • Whooping cough
    • Poliomyelitis (polio)
    • Measles
    • Mumps
    • Rubella
    • 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 the Department of Health or call the National Immunisation Hotline on 1800 671 811.

    • 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 Immunisation Register website. 
  • Dental services for children

    In South Australia there is a free dental service for children who haven't yet started school. For other children under 18, the cost is $50 for dental services provided in a calendar year.

  • 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 Medibank.

  • 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
    General Enquiries & After Hours (08) 8161 7044
    Times Open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
  • Parenting advice

    Parenting SA

    Parenting SA supports parents by providing quality information on raising children and young people from birth to 18 years. It has developed over 80 Parent Easy Guides that provide evidence-based, easy to read information on a wide range of parenting topics. Parenting SA also provides free parenting seminars, and online videos.

    Kids helpline

    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 international students (both sponsored and private fee paying) are solely responsible for the cost of child care. Fees for child care vary greatly, and you will need to contact the providers directly to find out what they charge. Fees can range from $80-$120 per day. 

Students who are recipients of Australia Awards Scholarships or Endeavour Scholarships may be eligible for Child Care Subsidy (see below)


  • Child care subsidy

    The Child Care Subsidy is a payment 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 (i.e. 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 (i.e. Australian citizen, permanent resident, or Commonwealth scholarship recipient)

    Application procedure

    After you have determined that you are eligible for the Child Care Subsidy, you then file your claim.

    More information

    For more information about the Child Care Subsidy, please see:


  • Schooling costs

    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 2022 annual fees
    Full fee-paying international student $6,400 per child (plus $660 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 2022 annual fees
    Full fee-paying international student $7,600 per child (plus $660 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.

Useful phone numbers
Service / Area Phone number
Emergency - ambulance, fire, police 000
Police assistance - non urgent 131 444
Women's and Children's Hospital 8161 7000
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
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 to 1800 numbers are free of charge.