The first step in starting your health placement is to check the pre-placement compliance requirements.

Health placements

Health placement is an exciting part of your degree, letting you experience what it's like to work as a health care professional in real-life situations.

These compulsory placements give you the opportunity to integrate theory with practice, further develop your skills through supportive professional environments and gain essential working knowledge of current industry practice.

Depending on your discipline, some placements occur throughout your degree while other placements happen in your final year.

Learn more about health placement hours and activities.

Young nurse with new mother and baby

Preparing for placement

As a condition of any type of professional experience - including placement, volunteering, laboratory work, research, or community-engaged learning - you are required to provide evidence of your compliance and health protection before participating in any of these activities.

  • Student compliance is a mandatory, legislative and regulatory requirement.
  • To be able to attend placement, you must be compliant.
  • You must meet the requirements of both Southern Cross University and the external organisation. This will ensure the safety of yourself and others
  • SONIA, the professional placement database for students, is where you will upload many of your compliance documents. It is also where you can view your placement allocations.

Student compliance requirements

Student-Led Clinics

Students have the opportunity to gain real-world experience and engage in clinical activities like assessment and diagnosis, treatment planning and intervention, and evaluation of patients’ needs, at one of our two Health Clinics.

Southern Cross University operates a clinic each on the Gold Coast and Lismore campuses. The clinics are a core component of Southern Cross programs, ensuring students gain the knowledge and experience they need to work in the healthcare industry.

Find out more about the student-led clinics.

Professional Experience Unit

Having a successful placement is an important step in completing your degree. The Professional Experience Unit (PEU) team in the Faculty of Health is here to support you.

If you require further information or need assistance you can email the Professional Experience Unit or call them on +61 7 5589 3439.

Frequently Asked Questions – Pre-Placement

What vaccinations do I need?

  • Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis (Whooping Cough)
  • Hepatitis B
  • Measles, Mumps and Rubella
  • Varicella (Chicken pox)
  • Influenza

What vaccination documentation do I need to submit?

Print out the Vaccination Requirements - Evidence Checklist.  This document will advise what you are required to submit as evidence. Upload evidence for each vaccination to its respective check in SONIA. The Professional Experience Unit will review all documents and if anything is missing you will be contacted.  Once documents look complete, these will be sent to NSW Health for a Clinical Assessment and Verification.

What is SONIA?

SONIA is the professional placement database for students. This is where you will upload your compliance documents. It’s also where you can view your placement allocations. 

The Professional Experience Unit website provides instructions and links to get onto Sonia. There is also a mobile app which you can use.

How long does it take to become vaccination compliant for placement?

Once you have uploaded your vaccinations evidence to SONIA the Professional Experience Unit will forward the documentation to NSW Health for a Clinical Assessment and verification.  This can take 6 – 8 weeks to be assessed and verified by NSW Health.

I know I’ve had them but I can’t find evidence of my Hep B immunisation, do I have to do it all again?

If you have a positive antiHBs serology results and you have been vaccinated but cannot provide documentation of your vaccination course, you will need individual assessment by an experienced Occupational Vaccination clinician. After uploading your vaccination evidence to SONIA, the PEU will send to the assessor/clinician on your behalf. The clinician must be convinced that the serology result supports that you have had a complete course of vaccination. You should upload your serology result AND a paragraph which outlines why you are unable to locate the evidence of the vaccinations with your other occupational assessment screening and vaccination (OSV)

How do I know if I need to have a TB screening?

You may require TST screening or IGRA blood test if you were born in a country with a high incidence of TB or have resided for a cumulative time of 3 months or longer in a country with a high incidence of TB as listed in:

You will provide this information on Attachment 7 (TB Assessment tool) which will be submitted to the occupational assessment screening and vaccination (OSV) Assessor with your other OSV documents.  The OSV Assessor will then advise if and how you can arrange to be tested. Do not organise your own test – this may not be acceptable.

I cannot afford to get my vaccinations, what support does the university offer?

The University operates a Student Loan Scheme designed to provide small interest-free loans to currently enrolled students who can demonstrate genuine need and whose continued attendance at the University is in jeopardy due to financial hardship. Further details on what loans you can get and the process can be found at:

I’m allergic to some vaccinations, what should I do?

Consult your GP and email the background and details ASAP to and we will forward these to an experienced Occupational Vaccination clinician who will advise you further.

I’m not yet 18, can I apply for a National Police Check, NSW Working With Children Check and QLD Blue card?

  • Students under 18 can apply for a National Police Check (NPC).
  • NSW Working With Children Check (WWCC) is not required if under the age of 18. You will need to apply 1 month before you turn 18.
  • Blue Card Services have advised that students under 18 years of age can apply for a Blue Card.
  • All students are required to obtain both WWCCs for NSW and QLD, as your placement may be in either state.

I have a National Police Check/First Aid/Working With Children Check through my work – can I use this?

You must obtain copies of these documents from their employer and upload to SONIA – we will advise if the documentation is sufficient. If you are unable to obtain copies, you will need to re-apply (remember expiry dates).

I am studying part time, when do I attend my first placement?

This will depend on what health course you are studying. The Course Structure tab on the course page of your degree will tell you which units of study contain placement. Please contact the Shared Services Hub directly in the first instance to discuss this if you are concerned, and to provide an individual study plan. You may then be directed to the Professional Experience Unit. Keep in mind that regardless of when your first placement is, NSW health require all students to be assessed for occupational assessment screening and vaccination (OSV) compliance in their first year of study.

Can I organise my own placement?

No, for most disciplines – you must not contact a facility unless instructed to do so by SCU. You cannot attempt to organise your own placement even if it is your current workplace. For some disciplines the student does arrange the placement however the student must submit a placement request form and have obtained Professional Experience Unit approval to proceed - contact the Professional Experience Unit for further information on this.

I currently work/my partner works away from home/I am a single parent/I have kids – how do I ensure I receive a local placement?

You should be prepared to travel for placement as due to large number of students it is not possible to place all students locally. Placements are allocated equally and you will not receive priority due to work/kids etc. Should there be an extenuating circumstance in which you feel you need a local placement, you are able to apply via an Attendance Variation Application (AVA) for consideration on where you are placed. Note that there is specific criteria which is considered and also criteria that will not be approved. Supporting documentation needs to be submitted with these applications and incomplete AVAs will not be approved.

How do I submit an Attendance Variation Application (AVA)?

You can obtain the AVA from the SONIA homepage. The AVA must be completed in full and emailed to along with supporting documentation. Please refer to the AVA for criteria for approval and the supporting documentation required.

Is there support if I am having difficulty on my placement?

Yes, university staff can make contact with you during placement, for additional support, either by phone, email or face-to-face. As well, you will also have the support of a supervisor/clinical teacher and can always contact an SCU Lecturer Practitioner, whilst on placement.

Am I required to attend placement every day?

Yes, you are required to attend placement every day in order to meet the requirements of the placement, including the hours required. Attending placement every day also demonstrates that the student can maintain a sustained working period.

Equity and Inclusion - please go to Student Equity and Inclusion.

Student Equity and Inclusion is a free and confidential service which provides a range of support services to students with a disability (or students who are carers of a person with a disability) or medical condition to assist them in engaging in their studies on the same basis as a student without a disability in accordance with the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth) (DDA) and the Disability Standards for Education 2005 (Cth). These support services can include:

  • referral to internal or external support services
  • access to specialised educational support staff
  • provision of specialised equipment
  • assessment and provision of reasonable adjustments
  • provision of inclusive technology and software
  • pre-admission counselling and advice on inherent requirements
  • implementation and monitoring of the University's Disability Action Plan and the Reasonable Adjustments for Students with Disabilities policy

Is financial assistance available to cover placement costs?

The Scholarships team may be able to inform you of any scholarships or grants you may be eligible for.

Contact the Faculty of Health

Executive Dean, Faculty of Health

T: +61 2 6620 3557


Discipline Heads and Course Coordinators

Contact us

Director of Higher Degree Research

T: +61 2 6659 3688