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Bringing your family
As holders of Student visas, Australia Awards scholars are able nominate eligible family members to join them in Australia. Eligible family members include a partner (spouse or de facto partner) and dependent children who are unmarried and under 18 years of age.
Having your family with you can be a wonderful opportunity for them to share in your experience. However, you will need to be prepared to accommodate the needs of your family.
The University strongly recommends to plan the arrival of family members after you have started the main course (i.e. after completion of the Introductory Academic Program or pre-course English language program) to allow you sufficient time to focus on adjusting to your new environment and getting ready for your studies.
Before you decide to bring your family to Australia, you should consider the following:
- Are you able to pay for the additional cost of living for your family?
- Will your family be able to adjust to life in Australia easily?
- What are the problems your family will face if they do not speak English?
- Will your children's schooling be disrupted? Will the re-adjustment to the education system be a problem when they return to your home country?
- Will your spouse's career be disrupted?
- Might your partner become homesick?
Bringing your family can affect your studies, in particular if your are single parent or your spouse remains in the home country, have a large family, have a stressful relationship with your family, or find that you are struggling with the academic requirements of your course.
Before applying for family entry, please read the following information.
Cost of living
Your Contribution to Living Expenses is intended to support one student in Australia. Students intending to bring family members should have financial resources to cope with the added costs.
Students are often surprised at the high cost of living in Melbourne compared to their home country. Try comparing some basic expenses:
- Public transport full-fare daily ticket in Zone 1: AUD $8.60 (see myki fares)
- Food and grocery bill for family of four: at least AUD $200 per week (see: Live in Victoria)
- Rent within 5 km radius of University: at least AUD $300 per week (see Live in Victoria)
- Cost of utilities for a household of four including water, gas, electricity: up to AUD $5,000 per year (see Live in Victoria)
Please consider that these costs are in addition to compulsory health insurance for family members, child care costs, and other expenses, including study related expenses and ongoing financial commitments back home.
Some students have friends or family members already in Melbourne who may assist in settling in and setting up housing. Student Housing have some great information on accommodation options and renting in Melbourne. They also conduct workshops for students about renting.
Other useful resources:
Bringing a spouse or partner
If you are only bringing your partner, the financial situation is more manageable, particularly when your partner has paid work. However, it may take a number of months to find employment, and your partner may not find work in their usual occupation due to Australia's differing regulations and standards. It is a good idea to talk with your partner about their expectations and the practicalities of working in an unrelated field.
For useful information about resumes and job seeking, see Live in Victoria.
Bringing school-aged children
In Victoria, children generally commence primary school in the year they turn six. To start school a child must be five years old by 30 April in the year they commence. School-aged children must be provisionally enrolled at a school before they arrive. Dependent children of Australia Awards scholars accessing the Government School Sector do not have to pay tuition fees, but you will need to cover the cost of school uniforms, field trips, stationery, text books, extracurricular activities and other related expenses.
Your dependents are exempt from paying International Tuition Fees if enrolled at a Victorian Government School (an initial application fee still applies).
You apply for enrolment directly to schools. The Department of Education and Training has provided a map to find a school, showing the locations of all Victorian government schools and contact details. When contacting a school, advise about your visa type.
For more information, refer to the Department of Education and Training.
Bringing young children (aged 0 - 6 years)
Childcare (early childhood education and care) in Australia is highly regulated, but can be expensive and difficult to secure, particularly for children under two. For information on children’s centres, parenting support, and useful links for families with children, refer to the University's Children's Services website or the City of Melbourne website. All early childhood education and care services provide play-based learning programs following the Australian Early Years Learning Framework “Belonging, Being, Becoming”. For advice on choosing the right service for you and your child, please read the Guide to Choosing a quality early childhood service.
The cost of childcare is around AUD$120 per day or AUD $600 for a full week. If you hold a scholarship paid directly by the Commonwealth of Australia you should be eligible to receive help with the cost of child care:
- The Australian Government provides assistance through the Child Care Subsidy (CCS). You can apply for these only when your child is in Australia, and you will also need to have an Australian Tax File Number (TFN) to complete your application. There can be significant delays in processing CCS applications. The CCS is variable depending on your income.
- If you encounter difficulties applying for the CCS, refer Centrelink to section 18.104.22.168 CCS - Australian Residency Exceptions of the Family Assistance Guide. The relevant circumstance is: "The person is undertaking a course of study in Australia for which they receive direct financial assistance from the Commonwealth".
- The University also offers a Student Rebate. Your child does not have to attend a University childcare centre to be eligible for the student rebate as it can be paid to cover the costs at any childcare centre. The Student Rebate is based on your income and on the amount you would pay at the University's centres. The maximum Student Rebate is less than $10 per day.For low income students, after all government payments and the Student Rebate, most students will end up paying approximately AUD$140 to AUD$150 a week for full time care, five days a week. For further information about managing your finances, see Student Financial Aid adviser.
Kindergarten programs provided by qualified teachers can be offered at both child care centres and in kindergarten-only centres for children in the year before they start school. In child care centres, the kindergarten program is integrated with the child care hours. In a standalone kindergarten programs are offered for 15 hours a week, although some may offer longer hours. The hours may be offered over five 3 hour sessions a week, two 7.5 hours sessions, or other combinations. There is direct government funding for these programs, which is included in the fees charged in child care. Kindergarten-only services have fees that you will have to pay, as these services are generally not eligible for benefit payments to families. However, kindergarten only fees are quite low.
Immunisation is the safest and most effective protection against disease. When enrolling a child in child care, kindergarten, primary or secondary school, you must provide a current record of a child's immunisation. Pre-school aged children are not allowed to enrol in an early childhood service without providing a copy of their Immunisation Register.
Awardees 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 your health insurance cover 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. Bring your child's immunisation records to your appointment. If your child needs additional immunisations, the Health Service can provide these for the cost of the injections without a service charge.
Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC)
Bupa is the University's OSHC provider. We will arrange single coverage for you with Bupa before you arrive.
Before your apply for the dependant visa for your family, you must provide evidence that they have visa length OSHC. To upgrade your policy to a family cover, go to MyBupa.
For information on the cost of OSHC, see 2019 OSHC premiums.
For queries about your Bupa OSHC policy, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For students already in Melbourne, the Student Support team is here to help.
The University has a number of other support services including:
- Health Service
- Counselling Service
The counselling service has some good publications on homesickness
- Student Housing
For a full list of student services visit the Service Finder.
Community support services
The University provides an extensive range of support services. In addition, support services are also available in the external community. The local councils (local government) usually sponsor these services. Your residential address will determine which local council services you are eligible to access. The following is a sample list of the type of services provided by the local councils that would be of benefit to you and your family members:
- Maternal and Child Health Services
- Community Health Centres
- Recreation and Leisure Facilities
- Culture and Arts
The City of Melbourne website is a good resource for information on the various services available in and around Melbourne. Look for the 'Community Services' link.
There are a number of national/ethnic clubs and societies on campus. There are also many national/ethnic organisations operating in the state of Victoria. Many of these organisations provide information and support specific to the needs of their membership.
The Victorian Multicultural Commission website has an online list of organisations in Victoria. Look for the 'Multicultural Resources Directory' link.