Australia offers many support services for international students. This includes services provided by education providers and student unions, as well as local, state, territory and federal governments.
Australian education providers pride themselves on creating a study experience that is welcoming, friendly and supportive for international students. Making friends and having help when it is needed can make a big difference. There are a range of specialist services to help you adjust to life and study in Australia.
These can include services such as:
- language and academic support
- designated international student advisers
- on-arrival reception and orientation programs
- childcare support
- mental health, wellbeing and counselling
- student accommodation
- employment services
- prayer and worship rooms
- banking, shopping and food outlets
- clubs, societies, and sport and fitness facilities.
Many Australian education institutions are like mini communities. You can join a club or society, improve your health and fitness in the gym, join a sports team, attend a social event, or volunteer for community service. Check the website of your institution for details of all the activities and support it offers.
Across the country, there are student associations assisting and representing the needs and interests of students. National associations include:
- Council of International Students Australia (CISA): the national body for international students studying at the undergraduate, postgraduate, private college, TAFE, English language intensive courses for overseas students (ELICOS) and foundation courses
- Australian Federation of International Students (AFIS): this organisation helps students make the most of their experience living and studying in Australia.
Most institutions in Australia have their own student associations. Visit your institution’s website for more information.
Other student services
Australia has laws to protect individuals from discrimination in many areas of public life. A person with a disability has just as much right to study as an able-bodied student. This means institutions cannot:
- refuse admission to a student with a disability
- ask a student with a disability to meet requirements that do not apply to able-bodied students (for example, pay higher fees)
- deny or limit access to a student with a disability (for example, not allowing them to go on excursions, or having student common rooms or lecture facilities that are not accessible).
Many institutions offer services for students who require assistance with their studies because of a disability or chronic medical condition. This assistance could include voice-recognition software, hearing aids or note-taking services. If you have specific needs, you should contact your institution several weeks before you arrive to make the appropriate arrangements.
Institutions must make every effort to accommodate a student with a disability. However, the institution is not legally required to make modifications if the changes involve major difficulties or incur unreasonable costs. The institution has to prove the changes are unjustified. Before making such a claim, the institution must have direct discussions with the student and seek expert advice.
If you are experiencing a problem with your institution, you should first talk to staff at your institution. If informal discussions do not resolve the problem, you can lodge a formal complaint. Institutions are required to have a process for students to register complaints.
If you feel you have a legitimate complaint that is not being recognised by your institution, you should approach the Australian Human Rights Commission.
You can make a confidential enquiry over the phone, but you must lodge a formal complaint in writing before the commission can take action. Find out more about disability rights in Australia.
Australian institutions usually have childcare facilities with trained staff. There are also private and not-for-profit childcare centres around Australia.
The Australian Government provides financial assistance to help parents with childcare costs. International students who receive financial assistance through a government scholarship may be eligible to receive the childcare benefit. Find out if you are eligible for financial assistance with childcare.