Medical assistance

Medical assistance

For non-urgent and ongoing health issues, Australians visit their doctor. Doctors may then refer you to more appropriate services and specialists if required.

Medicare covers visits to your doctor; however, you may be required to pay a gap if the practitioner charges more than Medicare provides. 

If a doctor ‘bulk bills’, this means there is no gap or fee to pay if you have a valid Medicare card as Medicare will be charged directly. If your doctor charges you a fee then you can claim a portion of that fee back from Medicare. You can ask for a copy of a medical practice’s fee structure before you select a doctor.

For more information, call Healthdirect on 1800 022 222.

Emergency and crisis

There are a range of services available to provide support and immediate response to people in crisis or in need of urgent medical care. These include:

  • emergency medical care;
  • emergency medical transport;
  • 24 hour telephone counselling, advice and referral services; 
  • individual and family crisis assistance; and
  • psychiatric or drug related emergencies.

Ambulance services

Calling an ambulance may incur a fee if you do not have private health insurance that includes ambulance cover.

Community health

The Australian Government supports many community health services to help people with the most common health problems. This includes:

  • health promotion and education;
  • family health care including screening, immunisation* and treatment of infants and school aged children;
  • health care to those who may have special needs such as Aboriginal people, women, people with severe disability or disease, older people, low income earners and people in remote areas;
  • nursing and therapy services;
  • palliative care; and
  • multicultural services. 

​You can also call Healthdirect for 24 hour health advice on 1800 022 222 (from within Australia).

*When you apply for a Medicare card, your children will automatically be registered on the Australian vaccination register. Proof of adequate vaccination is essential for your child to be enrolled in childcare or school. Your child’s existing immunisation record can be added to the register by an immunisation provider (a general practitioner or a clinic).


Pharmacies sell over-the-counter drugs as well as medications that require a prescription.

Prescriptions and over-the-counter medications are not free. You will need to bring your Medicare card with you when you are collecting prescriptions from a pharmacy.

For information about medicines, speak to a pharmacist or call the Medicines Line on 1300 633 424 ​(from within Australia).

Public health websites

The following websites have useful information for new migrants on required immunisations, healthy eating and physical activity: