Students with family – issues to consider

The cost of supporting a family in Australia is very high and it is important to ensure that you have sufficient funds to support them financially.

The cost and study calculator gives you a general idea of what the cost of bringing your family will be.

You also need to consider how your family will adjust to life in Australia:

  • how would the presence of your family impact on your studies?
  • how would your family cope with life in Australia?
  • can your spouse communicate confidently in English?
  • possibly limited employment opportunities for your spouse
  • are you the primary carer for your children?
  • school or childcare arrangements for your children

When should I bring my family?

You may find it is easier to arrive in Australia first, and to bring your family later. Some students chose to bring their family with them to avoid visa delays.

For visa information, refer to Bringing your family – dependant family members.

If you are an Australia Awards Scholar, refer to Australia Awards Scholars with family.

If your spouse would like to improve their English language skills and/or network with other spouses, they are encouraged to participate in the Language and Professional Development program for Spouses.

The free Telephone Interpreter Service is available for non-English speakers.

Local councils provide a range of community services including libraries, parks, recreation centres, health (including maternal and child) and community centres.


Schooling

The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIBP) requires dependants of international students to attend school in Australia. Children must be five years old or turning five before 30 April of that calendar year to be eligible to start school in Victoria. For more information about schooling, refer to the Victorian Government Schools International Student Program website.

Before your children enter Australia, you will need to provisionally enrol them in a school. Information about schools is available from the Victorian Department of Education and Early Childhood Development. When choosing a school, many parents ask about:
  • the school's curriculum
  • extracurricular activities
  • the size of individual classes
  • the overall size of the school
  • whether there is an English as a Second Language (ESL) program offered
  • school fees and any additional costs

You should also consider:

  • the distance from the school to the University
  • the distance of the school from where you plan to live
  • how your children will travel to and from the school

The Diplomatic Mission in your country can advise you on which Victorian schools are registered to take international students.

School Fees

You are responsible for school fees (unless exempt) and other costs including school uniforms, books, stationery and excursions. You may need to pay for one semester's school fees when you provisionally enrol your children.

Your dependants may be exempt from school fees at a Victorian Government School if you:

  • are a postgraduate research student enrolled in a doctoral (PhD) or Masters by Research degree, and you have a subclass 574 visa dated on or after 1 July 2004; OR
  • receive a fully-funded award or scholarship from the Australian government. If you receive a fully-funded tuition scholarship from the University of Melbourne, you may also be eligible

Check if you are eligible for fee exemptions with the Victorian Government's International Education Division.

Victorian Government Schools

Refer to the Victorian Government Schools International Student Program website for more information and to apply for a place for your child.

Non-Government Schools

You may also wish to consider independent or religious schools. Independent Schools Victoria lists many of these schools.


Childcare

Childcare is expensive and can be difficult to secure. You should start researching childcare options before you arrive. It is more difficult to find places for children under 24 months of age. Places for older children (3 – 5 years old) are easier to obtain.

To learn about the availability and suitability of different childcare options, you need to approach childcare centres directly. Most childcare centres have long waiting lists, so you might want to register on several waiting lists. Some centres charge an application fee.

We suggest that you visit the childcare centres that you are considering before making a final decision on your childcare arrangements. This childcare checklist can be helpful.

Children's Services (Child care) at the University

The University of Melbourne offers a wide range of children's services including long day child care, sessional care, evening care and pre-school programs. Go to the Children's Services website for more information.

Child care outside the University

Immunisation

Under Victorian law, all children must be fully vaccinated to be enrolled in childcare or kindergarten. Students arriving with children are encouraged to check the Australian Immunisation Schedule and arrange for any further vaccinations before leaving home. Vaccinations aren't covered by OSHC and can be quite expensive in Australia. If possible, obtain your child's immunisation records in English, or at least with their English trade names.

On arrival in Australia, to finalise enrolment in an early childhood service, you'll need to provide an Immunisation History Statement that shows your child is up-to-date with their vaccines. The University Health Service can assist you to get this document.

Help with child care fees

All students may apply for the Student Rebate funded by the University. This is a means-tested rebate (based on your income) and may help with your total child care fees. You can apply for the student rebate even if your child is enrolled in childcare outside the University. For more information, go to the University's Children's Services website.

If you receive an AusAID scholarship or other awards sponsored directly by the Australian government, you may be eligible for financial support from the Australian government — the Child Care Benefit and Child Care Rebate.


Language support for spouses

The Language Support and Professional Development Program is free for spouses of international students and visiting scholars. The program includes general everyday English lessons, professional support activities and excursions to places of cultural and historical interest.

Lessons cover topics such as family and friends, health, shopping, employment and current affairs. Professional support activities include seminars on finding work in Australia, preparing a resumé and visits to university and local libraries.

Everyone is welcome, even if you are a native English speaker. Feel free to bring your children along if they are under 5 years old. If you are interested, email Alex Younes.