Stable, culturally diverse and

democratic society with a skilled workforce

Things to do on Arrival

This information is for all prospective and newly arrived permanent and temporary migrants to Australia. Government and community organisations provide Australian residents with many services. This information will give you an introduction to the services and assistance available, and where you can go for advice.

This information contains important matters for your first weeks in Australia.

The issues you will face as you begin your new life in Australia will be different to those in your homeland. However, there are many services to help you settle successfully and become a valued member of the Australian society, just as millions of people who arrived in Australia before you have done.

Time zones

There are three time zones in Australia - Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST or EST), Australian Central Standard Time (ACST) and Australian Western Standard Time (AWST).

Daylight Saving Time applies to some states from October to April – go to for information.

Apply for a tax file number

Australian workers pay tax to the government on their income. To receive an income in Australia, you need a tax file number (TFN).

A TFN is a unique number issued to individuals and businesses to help the government administer taxation and other government programs. The money collected from taxes is used to fund government programs and services such as roads, schools and hospitals.

Income includes wages or salary from a job, payments from the government, and money earned from investments including interest on savings accounts.

How to apply for a tax file number

If you are migrating to Australia or have a temporary resident visa that allows you to work in Australia, you can apply for a TFN by going to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) website, by phoning the ATO or by visiting some ATO Service Centres. The fastest way to get a TFN is online at - you will need your passport and an Australian address.

Australian Taxation Office Contact details
Telephone 132 861
Visit an office

Information in languages other than English

ATO Website

Enrol with Medicare

Medicare is Australia’s national health care system, which provides free or subsidised health care services to Australians and permanent residents. Some temporary migrants may also be eligible for Medicare services.

If you are eligible for Medicare you have immediate access to health care services and programs. These include free public hospital care, help with the cost of out-of-hospital care, and subsidised medicines.

For information on Medicare Services, go to or visit your local Medicare Service Centre.

How to enrol with Medicare

To enrol with Medicare, go to a Medicare Service Centre with your passport and other travel documents. If you meet all requirements, you will be given a temporary Medicare card number. You will receive your Medicare card in the post approximately three weeks later. You must let Medicare know if you change your home or postal address.

Emergency medical treatment is available 24 hours a day at Emergency departments of public hospitals.

Medicare Contact details
Medicare Website

Information for migrants, refugees and visitors

Information in languages other than English

Telephone 132 011
Visit a service centre

Contact Centrelink

The Department of Human Services provides social security payments and services through Centrelink. Centrelink helps newly-arrived permanent residents look for work, find courses or training and with the process for overseas skills recognition. Contact Centrelink to find out if you are eligible for a social security payment. Depending on your visa, there may be a waiting period before you can receive payments.

If you are eligible, payments may be made from the day you contact Centrelink. To be paid from the day you arrive in Australia, you or someone on your behalf—for example, your Humanitarian Settlement Services (HSS) provider or proposer—must contact Centrelink on the day you arrive and lodge a claim within 14 days.

Humanitarian entrants may be eligible for a Crisis Payment in addition to other social security payments. If you arrive under the Humanitarian Program you must:

claim within seven days of arriving in Australia, or

contact Centrelink with the intent to claim within seven days of arrival and lodge a claim within 14 days of that contact.

If you have children, you may be eligible for Government-funded payments for the cost of raising children (see or for child care fees (see

Centrelink Contact details
Centrelink website

Information for migrants, refugees and visitors

Information in other languages

Phone self service 136 240
Job seekers 132 850
People with disability and carers 132 717
Older Australians 132 300
Students and trainees 132 490
Online account support 132 307
Complaints and feedback 1800 132 468
Australian apprenticeships 133 633
Families 136 150
For information in other languages 131 202
Visit a service centre

For other Centrelink phone numbers

Enrol your child/children in a school

You must enrol your child or children in a school as soon as possible. Contact the school you wish your children to attend to get enrolment forms.

You will need to show your travel documents and your child’s immunisation records. Children must have the required immunisations in order to go to school. Bring any school reports and certificates of their previous study.

In Australia, children must attend school from five years of age until they finish Year 10. Young people who have completed Year 10 must participate in full-time education, training or employment, (at least 25 hours per week) or a combination of these activities until they reach 17 years of age.

Intensive English language assistance is available for children who need to learn English.

Apply for a driver’s licence

In Australia, you must have a driver’s licence to drive and vehicles must be registered. If you drive without a driver’s licence or drive an unregistered vehicle you may be fined and your driver’s licence revoked. Driver's licences and car registrations are issued by state and territory governments.

Most states and territories allow you to drive for the first three months after arrival, if you are a permanent resident and have a current driver's licence from another country which is in English or has an official translation.

After this initial period, if you want to drive, you will need to get the appropriate Australian driver’s licence. You will need to pass a knowledge test, a practical driving test, and an eyesight test. There are strict traffic and drink driving laws in Australia, which you must obey.

You should always check with the authority in your state or territory:

State or Territory Licensing and motor vehicle registration agency Telephone Website
ACT Road Transport Authority 02 6207 7000



Roads and Maritime Services 13 2213

NT Department of Transport 1300 654 628

Qld Department of Transport and Main Roads 13 2380

SA Transport 13 1084

Tas. Transport Tasmania 1300 851 225

Vic. VicRoads 13 1171

WA Department of Transport 13 1156

Open a bank account

In Australia, people keep their money in a bank, building society or credit union. Most income, including salary and wages and government benefits, is paid directly into an account in your name. Australians use debit cards to withdraw money from their bank accounts and for many purchases.

If possible, open a bank, building society or credit union account within six weeks of your arrival in Australia. You will usually only need your passport as identification. After six weeks you will need additional identification. This may be difficult if you do not have many documents to identify yourself. Give the bank your tax file number (TFN) to avoid higher rates of taxation on interest earned.

Find a family doctor

A ‘family doctor’ will get to know your family and their health needs, and be your first contact for medical matters. These doctors are called General Practitioners or GPs. They provide general medical assistance for common illnesses and for people with chronic conditions who live at home.

Unlike some countries where it is necessary to go to the hospital to see the doctor, Australian GPs usually work from offices (surgeries) or clinics in the suburbs. People usually visit a doctor near to where they live. You are able to change doctors if you are not comfortable or satisfied with the service provided.

Finding a Family Doctor

You don’t need to be registered with a doctor in Australia. However, many people have a family doctor – a medical practitioner who they see for general health matters, including immunisations, prescriptions, medical certificates, health checks, mental health care and health advice.

These doctors are called General Practitioners (GPs). They may work in a small private clinic or practice, or in a public or private medical centre with other doctors. You can choose which doctor or medical centre you attend. GPs are listed online and in the telephone directory under ‘Medical practitioners’. You can decide whether you want to be seen by the same doctor each time, or if you are willing to be treated by other doctors in the same centre.

You may need to visit more than one practice to find your preferred family doctor. Some practices may not accept new patients.

The healthdirect website at also features a General Practice search to find your closest General Practice services.

Routine health concerns

If you have a health concern and it is not an emergency, go to your family doctor or to a medical centre. You may need to wait before seeing a doctor.

You usually need to make an appointment by telephone or online before you arrive. Make sure you are on time for your appointment.


If you are from a country in Asia, Africa, the Indian sub-continent, South America or Eastern Europe it’s likely you have been exposed to tuberculosis and are at a higher risk of being infected and getting sick from it.

Although you may have already been checked for tuberculosis before arriving in Australia, it is possible that you may have a latent or silent infection which is not found on a chest x-ray.

If you become unwell or are concerned about your risk of developing active tuberculosis speak to your family doctor or contact one of the telephone information and advice services listed below.


You cannot consult a medical specialist without seeing a general practitioner (family doctor) first. The doctor may refer you to a medical or other specialist for further treatment.

Medical emergencies

Emergency medical treatment is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at the Emergency departments of public hospitals. Public hospitals are listed under ‘Hospitals’ in the White Pages. Emergency treatment may also be available at some medical centres and some private hospitals.

If you or someone else is dangerously ill, telephone 000 immediately and ask for an “Ambulance”. When you go to hospital, bring any medicines and your Medicare, private health insurance membership, Health Care or Pension Concession cards.

If the situation is not an emergency, contact your family doctor.

Telephone health information and advice services

All states and territories have telephone health services that operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They provide free guidance and can direct you to local health services.

You should always try to contact your family doctor first if you have health issues. But if they are unavailable, these telephone services have qualified nurses who can give you immediate professional advice.

State or Territory Telephone Health Advice Service Telephone Website
ACT, NSW, NT, Tas., SA and WA healthdirect 1800 022 222

Qld 13 HEALTH 13 43 25 84

Vic. NURSE-ON-CALL 1300 606 024

In Queensland and Tasmania, ambulance services are generally provided free for local residents. In all other states and territories, fees may be charged. Fees vary depending on the distance you travel, the nature of your illness and whether you are eligible for a concession.

Ambulances can be expensive even for a short ride if you do not have ambulance insurance. If you live outside Queensland or Tasmania, you may want to purchase insurance. You can do this through membership schemes provided by the ambulance service or a private health insurance fund.


Tel: +27 11 783 9440
Fax: +27 11 388 9818
Email: [email protected]

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