Information and useful advice for International students living and studying in Australia.

In case of any emergencies:

Police/Ambulance/Fire Brigade: Call 000

SCU Out-of-Hours Crisis Support Line: 1300 782 676

Visit the UniStays website

UniStays has important information to help you search for accommodation. Southern Cross University has accommodation officers at the Gold Coast, Lismore and Coffs Harbour campuses.

Understand the rental process

Before you rent accommodation in Australia, it is important you understand the rental process and your rights and responsibilities as a tenant. Make sure you are familiar with the tenancy information relevant to the state you will be living: 
New South Wales - Fair Trading or Queensland - Residential Tenancies Authority.

Things to consider when choosing long-term accommodation;

Property location and property features

Is the property close to transport, shops and campus or in a noisy area or on a busy road?

Is the place furnished? What kind of furniture? Is there a refrigerator and washing machine? Are there laundry facilities? Are there enough electrical power points to plug in your electrical appliances without overloading electrical power boards? Is there a telephone line already connected?

Safety and security

Is there good security? Where locks are fitted on doors, can they be opened from the inside without a key? Do front and back doors open easily from the inside to allow escape in case of fire? Is a smoke alarm fitted outside your bedroom (by law smoke alarms must be fitted and maintained)? Does the smoke alarm operate correctly? You can test the smoke alarm by pressing the test button.

Choosing a roommate

The task of choosing a roommate needs to be taken very seriously. The person or persons with whom one decides to live can affect the quality and productiveness of a student's experience in Australia.

You should also consider the following:

  • Bills and Expenses: How do roommates expect to share the costs?
  • Food: Do the roommates expect to share the costs of buying food and share in the preparation or have specific food needs you need to respect.
  • Drinking alcohol: Consider when alcohol is consumed and respect others wishes not to drink alcohol.
  • Cleaning: Some students come from a culture where they have not ever been responsible for household cleaning. It is important that you share responsibility for cleaning.
  • Men and women living together: For many students this is the first time they have lived with someone of the opposite gender that they do not know. Be mindful of this in common areas and respect people's personal space.
  • Respect: others needs and discuss matters which make you uncomfortable.
  • Smoking and Drugs: Consider the preference of having a smoker or non-smoker as a roommate. Clarify a household rule on the use of alcohol and/or illicit substances.
  • Where to get help and advice: If you have any concerns about your rental situation please refer to the tenancies authorities listed earlier in this section.

Signing a lease

The owner or agent of an owner of a rental property is called the landlord. The person renting the property is called the tenant. A landlord will ask for a security deposit or bond which is usually equal to four weeks' rent. A bond/security deposit is an amount of money that is supposed to guarantee that the tenant will care for the dwelling. If the tenant does not care for the property or clean it before leaving, the landlord has a legal right to keep some or all of the security deposit. Otherwise, the landlord must return the security deposit within a month after the tenant leaves. The Bond is generally kept with a State Authority.

The landlord will require the tenant to sign a lease. A lease is a written agreement between a tenant and a landlord that describes the responsibilities of each party. This is a binding legal document that commits the tenant to a specific period of residency in the unit.

Inspection of property

Most landlords or real estate agents will inspect the property with a tenant on commencement of the tenancy. This is done with a list of furniture and fittings in each room of the property so that the agent and tenant can agree on the condition of the property at the commencement of the rental. Make sure that any damage is noted on this document so you are not held responsible for it and that you receive a copy that has been signed by both the agent and tenant. Once this document is signed the condition of the property is the tenant's responsibility. This will be reviewed at the end of the tenancy and the final condition of the property may determine the return of the bond/security deposit. If this inspection is not suggested, you should request it as a means of ensuring fair treatment for all parties involved. During the inspection you should check that there are working fire alarms in the house. It is a requirement that landlords provide these.

Connecting to utilities: electricity/gas/phone/internet

Unless someone is already living in the dwelling, the new tenant must start utility services, such as telephone, electricity, and gas. This requires contacting each individual company and arranging for the services to be connected from a specified date. The companies providing these utilities also require a small security deposit.

Smoke alarms

These are devices that detect smoke and sound an alarm. Smoke alarms alert and wake people allowing valuable time to get out of a house during a fire. When a person goes to sleep, their sense of smell also goes to sleep. If there is a fire, toxic fumes may overcome a person before they wake up. It is a legal requirement that a smoke alarm must be installed in every home. We recommend once a month check the battery by pressing the test button on the smoke alarm. If the button is out of reach, use a broom handle to press the test button.


The lease may contain restrictions, such as not permitting animals or children in the dwelling. Each landlord will have his or her own particular requirements. Make sure that all these restrictions are known and understood before signing the lease. If the restrictions on the lease are not obeyed, the landlord can terminate the lease.

Internet providers

Before you choose a provider, think about what services you will need such as mobile phone, landline and internet. Australia has many service providers and it is important that you consider which provider and plan best suits your needs. Also consider your location in Australia, as not all providers have suitable access in regional areas. More information is available from the Department of Communications.


Public pay phones

  • Australia has some public pay phones that use coins or prepaid telephone cards.
  • A local call is 50 cents.
  • Calls to international, interstate, long-distance and mobile phones are based on the duration of the call and the cost can vary depending on time of day and distance. Discounts may be available on Sundays and off-peak periods.
  • Pre-paid telephone cards offer competitive rates and can be purchased at most news agencies, post offices and convenience stores and The School Locker (located on most campuses).

How to make domestic calls

Dial: area code + local number.

Area Code States:
07 Queensland (QLD)
02 New South Wales (NSW), Australian Capital Territory (ACT)
03 Victoria (VIC), Tasmania (TAS)
08 South Australia (SA), Western Australian (WA), Northern Territory (NT)

How to make international calls

Dial: 0011 + international access code + area code without the first zero + local phone number.
For example: to call China from Australia you would dial 0011 + 81 + area code (no 0) + local number.

Australia's country code is 61.

Whitepages can provide additional information.

Gold Coast Public Transport

The Gold Coast City Council provides an updated list of transport options available in the region.

Local buses

Kinetic Buslines

The Translink 'journey planner' will find the most convenient means of transport to your chosen destination on the Gold Coast and Brisbane.

Local taxis

Tweed Taxis T: 133 422
Gold Coast Cabs T: 131 008

Train and coach services

Queensland Rail: The closest railway station to SCU is located at Varsity Lakes.

NSW Translink: Coach stop for southbound coaches is at the bus interchange, outside Centro Shopping Centre (near Woolworths), Wharf Street, Tweed Heads. Coach stop for northbound coaches is at the bus Interchange opposite Chris Cunningham Park, Wharf Street, Tweed Heads.

Additional information about travelling to the University's Gold Coast campus is available on the Travel to SCU page.

Lismore transport options

Daylight saving operates in New South Wales from early October to late March each year. During that time Queensland is 1 hour behind New South Wales.

By Air

Lismore shuttle bus

The Deck and Lounge provides a free courtesy shuttle service to students. This service departs the bus stop outside the SCU Gym and Pool and drops at various locations.

Local buses

The University Bus Stop is located on Rifle Range Road

Northern Rivers Buslines operates services around Lismore, Ballina, Casino and Byron Bay. Visit Northern Rivers Buslines for timetables.

Lismore late night bus service is operated by Lismore City Council for late night passengers needing transport from the central business district. The service operates every Saturday night, between 11.30pm and 3.45am, travelling from the CBD to most suburban areas of Lismore. Fares are $3.00 each way, and a security officer accompanies the bus from midnight.

Blanch's Buslines operates services to Ballina and Byron Bay. Visit Blanch's Buslines for timetables.

Local taxis

Lismore Taxis T: 131 008

Train and coach services

Services operate from the Transit Centre on the corner of Molesworth and Magellan Streets. T: (02) 6621 8620. Timetables are available at the Transit Centre or available from NSW TrainLink.

Additional information about travelling to Lismore is available on the Travel to SCU page.

Coffs Harbour transport options

Local buses

Bus timetables are available from the students association.

Services between Coffs and Sawtell / Toormina are operated by Busways.

Services around Coffs Harbour and south to/from Macksville, Nambucca, Valla, Urunga and Bellingen are operated by Ryans Bus Service.

International students can request a discount on Ryans Bus Service. Services to the north between Coffs and Grafton including towns in between such as Korora, Moonee Beach, Sandy Beach, Emerald Beach, Woolgoolga.

Local taxis

Coffs Harbour Taxis T: 131 008

Train and coach services

NSW TrainLink departs from a coach stop on the corner of Elizabeth and Maclean Street,Coffs Harbour or the train station at Angus McLeod Place, Coffs Harbour.

Additional information about travelling to the Coffs Harbour campus is available on the Travel to SCU page.

Driving in Australia

If you are going to drive in Australia, no matter whether you are an experienced driver and have an international driver's licence, you must know the road rules before you attempt to drive. Many lives are lost on Australian roads every year and international visitors are at high risk. If you come from a country where you drive on the opposite side of the road to Australia it is sometimes helpful to have a companion drive with you to ensure you both take note of traffic conditions and signs until you are more familiar with driving on the left side of the road. 

Owning a car

Any motor vehicle you own must be registered before you drive it on the road. You must register it in your name and provide the State car registration board with your driver's licence details and your residential address in Australia.

It is recommended that you have car insurance if you own a car, this will protect you if you have an accident that is your fault as it will help pay for any damage you may have caused to your car or another car.

Licence requirements

In Australia, laws and driving regulations differ from state to state. Visit the Australian Government site for information about licences and registration.

Make sure you are familiar with the information from the National Transport Commission Australian road rules.

Some road rules differ within each state and territory. Contact the relevant Roads and Maritime Authority below for further information.

Demerit Points Scheme

The Demerit Points Scheme is a national program that allocates penalty points (demerits) for a range of driving offences. The scheme is designed to encourage safe and responsible driving. Along with financial penalties, demerit points provide a strong incentive to drive within the law. Different offences have a different number of demerit points, please refer to the relevant Road and Traffic Authority.

Drinking and driving - blood alcohol limits

Random breath testing (RBT) of drivers for blood alcohol levels and drug use is common at any time of the day or night. Police officers have the right to stop any vehicle at any time and require the driver to supply samples for screening. Any person driving a motor vehicle is required by law to have less than a specified amount of alcohol in their blood. If a driver exceeds the level which applies to them the driver has committed an offence.


Most streets have paved footpaths and pedestrian crossings to ensure comfort and safety. Most busy roads have marked pedestrian crossings or traffic light crossings. A pedestrian crossing is a designated point on a road at which you can safely cross. A pedestrian crossing that is not at a set of traffic lights is signposted and is generally marked with white stripes that run across the road (and is therefore sometimes referred to as a zebra crossing).

At traffic light crossings, wait for the 'green man' on the traffic light to appear before crossing the road. Do not begin to cross the road if the ('red man' on the traffic light appears. Where there are no pedestrian crossings or traffic lights nearby, please cross the road very carefully looking both ways before crossing to ensure there is no oncoming traffic. Look right, then left and then right again before attempting to cross.


Bicycles are relatively easy to find second-hand in local newspaper classifieds, university noticeboards, or new from a local store. Please note you are required by law to wear a bicycle helmet when riding your bike and police could fine you if you do not. It is also recommended that you buy a lock for your bike.

Know how to purchase items

The most common methods of purchasing items are by cash or EFTPOS (Electronic Funds Transfer at Point of Sale). EFTPOS allows you to use the key card attached to your Australian bank account to make purchases and you may be able to withdraw cash at the same time.

Hire purchase agreements are a type of loan agreement where a deposit is paid, with monthly payments following, until the whole amount plus interest is paid. If you intend to purchase items on hire purchase you should be sure of your ability to make the required repayments. Failure to do so may result in the goods being repossessed. Some students have experienced problems meeting monthly repayments and eventually have lost both the money they have already paid, and the goods they purchased, through this system.

Gold Coast shopping options

Downtown Coolangatta

The central shopping area encompasses Griffith Street and the surrounding area. You will find a variety of retail outlets, banks, cafes, restaurants, movie theatres, hotels and other businesses along the main street and arcades. Shops are generally open 9:00am - 5:00pm Monday to Friday and 9:00am - 12:00 midday Saturday and closed on Sunday.

Centro Tweed

This enclosed shopping centre is located on the corner of Wharf and Bay Streets in Tweed Heads. It has a variety of shops and businesses, supermarkets, department stores, banks, Australia Post, medical centres, pharmacies and a food court. Most shops in the centre have extended opening hours including late night shopping until 9:00pm on Thursdays, and are open on Saturday 9:00am - 5.30pm and Sunday 10:00am - 4:00pm.

Tweed City

This enclosed shopping centre is located on Minjungbal Drive in South Tweed Heads and includes supermarkets, department stores, banks, Australia Post, medical centres, pharmacies,movie theatre and food court. Most shops in the centre have extended opening hours including late night shopping until 9:00pm on Thursdays, and are open on Saturday 9:00am - 4:00pm and Sunday 10:00am - 3:00pm.

Aldi Supermarket

Showcase on the Beach, Coolangatta and Machinery Drive, South Tweed Heads. It stocks some European brands and products as well as Australian brands and local produce.

Speciality Food Supplies

Most supermarkets have speciality food sections that offer a all range of products from different countries and regions around the world in specially marked aisles. There are also international food suppliers on the Gold Coast (check the Yellow Pages for details) including the following:

Mabuhay Tweed Asian Supermarket 44B Wharf Street, Tweed Heads 2485
Exotic Asian Groceries T: 07 5526 1893 2475 Gold Coast Highway, Mermaid Beach 4218


Local open-air markets are a great place to buy locally grown organic produce and second-hand bargains.

Saturday Markets:
Every Saturday: Palm Beach Food and Farmers Market, Currumbin State High School

2nd and 4th Saturday of the month: Kingscliff Lions Beachside Market

Sunday Markets:
Every Sunday: Tweed Heads Markets - Police Citizen's Youth Club on Recreation Street at Tweed Heads

1st and 3rd Sunday of the month:
Banora Point Farmers Market - Club Banora

2nd Sunday of the month:
Coolangatta Beachfront Fair, Marine Parade, Coolangatta.

Lismore shopping options

Downtown Lismore

This is the central shopping area that includes Molesworth, Woodlark, Magellan and Keen Streets and their surrounds. You will find a variety of retail outlets, banks, businesses, cafes, restaurants, movie theatres and hotels along the main streets and arcades. Shops are generally open 9:00am - 5:00pm Monday to Friday; 9:00am - 12:00 midday Saturday and closed on Sunday.

Lismore Square

This is an enclosed shopping centre located on the corner of Brewster and Uralba Streets. It has a variety of shops and businesses including banks, supermarkets, department stores, and a food court. Supermarkets and some shops in 'The Square' have extended opening hours including late night shopping until 8:00pm on Thursdays, and are open on Saturday 9:00am - 4:00pm and Sunday 10:00am - 2:00pm.

Lismore Central

This enclosed shopping centre is located in Carrington Street and has a variety of retail outlets, supermarkets, chemist and cafes. Opening hours are similar to Lismore Square.

Aldi Supermarket

Located between Conway and Ballina Streets. This supermarket stocks some European brands and products as well as Australian brands and local produce and is open seven days a week.

Speciality Food Supplies

Most supermarkets have speciality food sections that offer a small range of products from different countries and regions around the world and there are signs along each aisle to help you to find these.

There is an Asian specialty store on the corner of Dalley Street and Wyrallah Road.

Halal Food

Goonellabah Quality Meats T: 02 6625 1264 Shop 659 Ballina Rd, Goonellabah. Phone in advance to order Halal meats.


Local open-air markets are a great place to buy locally grown organic produce and second-hand bargains.

Saturday Markets:
3rd Saturday of the month: Mullumbimby

Sunday Markets:
1st Sunday of the month: Byron Bay, Lismore Car Boot Market
2nd Sunday of the month: The Channon and Alstonville
3rd Sunday of the month: Ballina, Nimbin and Lismore Car Boot Market
4th Sunday of the month: Bangalow
5th Sunday of the month: Lennox Head

Farmer's and Produce Markets: 
Tuesday: Lismore Organic Farmer's Market (at the Showgrounds)
Thursday (3 pm - 6 pm): Lismore Produce Market (in Magellan Street)
Saturday(8 am - 11 am): Lismore Farmer's Market (at the Showgrounds)

Coffs Harbour shopping options

Coffs Harbour Mall

The mall and its surrounds has a variety of retail outlets and shops are generally open 9:00am - 5:00pm Monday to Friday and 9:00am - 12:00 midday Saturday and closed on Sunday.

Park Beach Plaza

The plaza is located just off the Pacific Highway in Coffs Harbour and has around 120 shops including chain-stores, boutiques and supermarkets, a 250-seat food court, Australia Post and branches of the major banks. Most shops in the centre have extended opening hours including late night shopping until 7.30pm on Thursdays, and are open on Saturday 9:00am - 5:00pm and Sunday 10:00am - 3:00pm.

The Palms Shopping Centre

This centre is located in Harbour Drive and also contains a supermarket, Australia Post, department stores, and other retail outlets. Most shops in the Centre are open from 9.00 to 5.30 pm weekdays, with late night shopping until 7.30pm on Thursdays, and Saturday 9:00am - 4:00pm and Sunday 10:00am - 2.00 pm.

Centro Toormina

This enclosed shopping centre is located on Toormina Road and has a variety of shops and businesses, supermarkets, department stores, banks, Australia Post, medical centres, pharmacies and a food court. Most shops in the centre have extended opening hours including late night shopping until 7:00pm on Thursdays, and are open on Saturday 9:00am - 4:00pm and Sunday 10.00am - 2.00pm.

Speciality Food Supplies

Most supermarkets have speciality food sections that offer a small range of products from different countries and regions around the world and there are signs along each aisle to help you to find these.


Local open-air markets are a great place to buy locally grown organic produce and second-hand bargains.

Saturday Markets: 3rd Saturday of every month: Bellingen Community Markets

Sunday Markets: Every Sunday: Coffs Harbour Jetty Markets

Weekday Markets: Every 2nd Thursday morning of the month: Coffs Mall Markets

Open a bank account

SCU International recommends you open an account at a bank, credit union or building society while you are in Australia to manage your money easily. Banks, credit unions and building societies all offer a full range of banking services, including access to Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs), online banking and savings. Banks are generally only open during business hours. However, deposits, withdrawals and transfers may be made at any time through ATMs at many locations. If you are using a debit card from an overseas account it is important to check what fees they charge for transactions. You may also be charged if you use an ATM not associated with your bank. Make sure you know your own bank's procedures for lost or stolen cards. You should be aware of your personal safety if accessing cash from an ATM at night in quiet areas where there are not many people around. 

The following major Australian banks have branches Australia-wide:

Banks, credit unions, building societies and ATMs can be found in the main street and in shopping centres in your local area.

Setting up a bank account

Many banks have 'student accounts' which contain no or minimal fees for transactions normally attached to regular savings accounts. You will be required to show your student ID card as proof; along with other personal identification to establish your identity. Your passport and proof of your arrival date in Australia will be acceptable if you open an account within six weeks of arrival in Australia. After this time you will be required to produce additional documentation.

Banking hours

Most banks in Australia are open from Monday to Thursday 9.30am to 4pm and Friday from 9.30am to 5.00pm (excluding Public Holidays) and usually not open on weekends. However some bank, credit union and building society branches have extended trading hours during the week and open on Saturdays. Check your chosen financial institution for details.

Bank fees

Bank fees are the cost for the products and services that banks offer. Each bank charges different fees for its products and services. Ask your bank for a list of their fees and charges.

Lost or stolen cards

If your ATM or credit card is lost or stolen, notify the bank immediately to enable the bank to put an immediate stop on your card.

Safety when carrying money

There are two fundamental rules of safety when carrying money:

Rule Number 1: Don't carry large amounts of cash.
Rule Number 2: Don't tell people that you are carrying money.

Bank and ATM locations


  • Banks, credit unions and building societies - Major banks as well as credit unions and building societies can be found in the main business area. The Lismore campus has a Summerland Credit Union branch, located in Goodman Plaza.
  • ATMs - Summerland Credit Union branch has an ATM located in Goodman Plaza, Lismore campus. There are several ATMs in the main business district in Lismore, Lismore Central Shopping complex and Lismore Shopping Square.

Gold Coast

  • Banks, credit unions and building societies - major banks, credit unions and building societies can be found in Griffith Street, Coolangatta and in all major shopping centres such as Centro Tweed.
  • ATMs - SCU Gold Coast campus has an ATM on Level 1 in the foyer area of Building A and ATMs can also be found in Griffith Street, Coolangatta and in the local shopping centres.

Coffs Harbour

  • Banks, credit unions and building societies - The major banks, credit unions and building societies can be found in the main business district of Coffs Harbour.
  • ATMs - There are several ATMs in all shopping centres including Park Beach Plaza, Centro Toormina and the Palms Shopping Centre. There is also an ATM at the Coffs Harbour campus of SCU in F Block.

Budget for weekly living expenses

It is important you consider ongoing expenses you are likely to encounter while living in Australia. Your visa conditions require you to have sufficient funds to cover living expenses and tuition fees while you are studying. Consider all your expenses so you can budget more effectively. There are financial information sessions made available to you during Orientation week to help you manage a budget. Contact SCU International if you require any further counselling on finance and budgeting. 

We recommend you visit the Study in Australia website to guide you on average living costs. Orientation Week also provides useful information and activities to help you budget effectively while living and studying in Australia.

Understand your Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC)

OSHC is insurance that provides cover for the costs of medical and hospital care which international students may need while in Australia. It is a visa requirement that you maintain your OSHC. It provides a safety net for medical expenses for international students, similar to that provided to Australians through Medicare. Additionally, OSHC includes access to some private hospitals and day surgeries. OSHC will also cover the cost of emergency ambulance transport and most prescription drugs over $30. You may also take out additional cover for benefits not covered by the OSHC policy.

Some students from countries whose governments have reciprocal health agreements for students in Australia may be exempt from paying the OSHC. Only some Reciprocal Health Agreements cover students in Australia, some will only cover visitors. You should determine if you are eligible before you apply for your visa to come to Australia.

If you are a study abroad student only studying for one session and you elected to come on a working holiday visa you must show proof of medical insurance. If you have come to Australia on a visa other than a student visa and undertake a short course of study of three months duration or less you will not be eligible for OSHC. You must purchase your own travel or private medical insurance in this case.

The Department of Health provides information about OSHC.

BUPA is SCU's preferred OSHC provider. Visit their website for more information about what is covered, how to make claims and how to renew your insurance.

Accessing medical services

What to do if you are sick?

If it is an emergency, call 000.

If you need to make an appointment with a doctor in your local area (please see some options in the list of in the campus sections below or go to the Yellow Pages. Phone the GP's surgery or medical centre to make an appointment as soon as you start to feel ill. It may not be possible to get an appointment on the same day. You may have to wait one or two working days before you can see a doctor. You can ask to be put on the waiting list. Alternatively, you can try to make an appointment elsewhere. If you need assistance in making a doctors appointment, contact SCU International and they will assist you.

Please let SCU International know if you have been admitted to hospital or are seriously ill so we can support you and can notify relevant staff of any medical conditions which might impact on your academic progression.

Things to know when you attend your doctors appointment

The doctor will ask questions about your health and may give a brief physical examination, such as checking your breathing, ears, throat etc. The doctor will then give you advice regarding management of your illness, and may give a prescription for medication. If your illness is more serious or the doctor is unsure of a diagnosis, they may request further tests (e.g. blood tests or x-rays), or to see a specialist doctor. It is important to note if you are dissatisfied with the diagnosis or service of the doctor, you have the right to obtain an opinion from another doctor. If you decide to attend an emergency department to see a doctor, be prepared to wait a very long time. It is not uncommon to wait more than 3 hours, and at some hospitals you could wait as long as 5-6 hours to see a doctor.

Prescription medication

If your GP decides that medication will help your condition, they will give you a prescription. A prescription lists your details, your GP's details, and the name and quantity of the medication you should receive. Take the prescription to a pharmacy or chemist, and they will provide you with your medication. When the pharmacist gives you your medication, you will have to sign a form that confirms you have received it, and then pay for the medication. Medication prescribed by your doctor is not free. It is important that you follow the directions on the pack, this will include information of the dosage (i.e. how much medication you should take), and how often you should take it.


GP surgeries do not have medications to dispense to you. You must take the prescription given to you by the doctor to a pharmacy or chemist to obtain the medication. You will need to provide the pharmacy with your OSHC card, your full name and address. You are able to walk in off the street to any pharmacy/chemist in Australia and you will only have to wait a short time for your prescription medicine to be prepared. Pharmacies/chemists also provide a variety of over-the counter medications useful for treating colds, headaches, allergies and the like which do not require a prescription.

Dental and optical services

Dental and optical health services are not covered by your OSHC unless you take out extra cover. If you need to see a dentist or optometrist you will need to make an appointment and pay the full fee of this service. To find dental and optical service providers in your local area, visit Yellow Pages.

Translation and Interpreter service (TIS)

In Australia we have a variety of health care professionals from many different cultural backgrounds, so you may be able to see a doctor who speaks your first language. However, if you are having difficulties communicating with your doctor, you can use the Translation and Interpreter Service website.

Safety in Australia

While Australia is considered to be a safe country, you should ALWAYS take precautions to maximise your safety and security. Study in Australia also provides useful information about your health and safety. 

Tips on home and public safety

  • Lock all doors and windows when you are not at home.
  • Do not leave valuable items in view at home or in your car.
  • Do not walk alone at night, walk with a friend or catch a taxi.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and avoid unsafe places.
  • Do not leave personal belongings unattended.
  • Check public transport timetables to avoid waiting for extended periods of time.
  • Sexual Assault is a criminal offense - if you are assaulted, call the police on 000 immediately, and contact the International Student Adviser for support and assistance or 1800 732 551 outside business hours.

The New South Wales Police Force have developed a series of videos about staying safe in Australia, including subtitled versions in:

Tips on fire safety

  • Check that your accommodation has suitable smoke alarms fitted and in working order.
  • Call 000 in the event of a fire.

Tips on beach, water and bush safety

  • Always swim at patrolled beaches between the red and yellow flags.
  • Protect your skin from the sun, especially between 10am-3pm.
  • Always wear a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen and protective clothing outdoors.
  • Do not touch or feed native animals.
  • Make sure someone knows your travel plans and always stay on a road or a walking track.
  • Take plenty of water and wear covered shoes and a hat when bushwalking.

Bites and stings

  • Many bites or stings from insects, snakes, ticks and marine creatures are poisonous. Visit the NSW Poisons Information website for more specific information.
  • If you suspect you have a poisonous bite, call 000.

Know where your local Police Station is

Lismore Police Station
5 Zadoc St, Lismore
T: (02) 6626 0599

Tweed Heads Police Station
83 Wharf Street, Tweed Heads
T: 131 444

Coolangatta Police Station 
143 Musgrave St, Coolangatta
T: (07) 5589 8444

Coffs Harbour Police Station 
20 Moonee St, Coffs Harbour
T: (02) 6652 0299

Information about the Australian legal system

Australians enjoy freedom in their daily lives. We can live where we want, say what we want, dress how we want and have personal relationships with whomever we want. In being granted a visa to study in Australia, you signed a document (Australian Values Statement Temporary) agreeing to respect Australian values and obey the laws of Australia for the duration of your stay. As an international student, you must also obey these laws, even those that are different to the laws you live with at home. 

Failure to comply with the laws of this land could result in a fine or the cancellation of your visa and possible deportation back home. If you are convicted of a serious crime, it could result in imprisonment.

SCU International is not permitted to give you legal assistance of any kind however if you are in a situation requiring legal advice you can make a confidential appointment with the international student adviser who can refer you to the appropriate legal service.

Some common laws you should be aware of include:

  • you cannot buy, sell, possess or use illicit drugs, including marijuana, amphetamines and opiates;
  • you cannot carry weapons, including knives and guns;
  • you must wear a helmet when riding a bicycle, motorbike or scooter;
  • if you drive a car in Australia, you must have a driver's licence and make sure you are aware of and obey all road rules;
  • it is illegal to offer or receive a bribe for services, including those provided by a government official;
  • it is illegal to discriminate against any person because of their gender, race, country of origin, political beliefs, religious beliefs, marital status, disability or sexual preference; and
  • acts of violence against other people, property or animals is a criminal offence. This includes violence against family members.

You can find a comprehensive outline of Australian law and the legal system at

Make new friends

In a foreign culture it can seem more difficult to find people who you really 'get along' with. Making friends takes time, if you make the most of social opportunities during your life in Australia, it will be quicker and easier to make friends. 

When you meet someone new, be cautious until you get to know the person better and feel you can trust him or her. If a stranger starts talking to you, they are probably just being friendly. But be safe, and don't give them your personal details like your full name, phone number or address. With people you don't know well, arrange to meet them in a public place (cafe or park), instead of inviting them to your home or going to theirs. In Australia it is acceptable to decline a request if you do not feel comfortable with a person.

Many international students spend time socialising with other students and people from their own country and culture while they're in Australia. These people can make you feel accepted and you may be able to communicate much more easily with them than you can with the locals, particularly when you have just arrived. When everything around you is new and different, it can feel like a big relief to find people from your own country and cultural background. But remember, you need to be careful at first, until you get to know them better. Even though you may feel like you have a lot in common, remain cautious until you feel you know them reasonably well and can trust them. Crimes against international students are sometimes committed by people from their own culture.

If you have any concerns or questions about someone you have met, or want to talk to someone about Australian mannerisms and communication 'norms' (widely acceptable behaviour), make an appointment to talk it over with your International Student Adviser.

Visit the UniLife website

A very important part of settling into your new environment is to connect with sport and social groups and support networks so that you can continue to participate in social and recreational activities that interest you. Southern Cross University has many services available to students to assist them with connecting to such groups and facilities while studying in Australia.

UniLife brings together the essential services students need and works closely with the various student associations to build a vibrant campus community adding to the student experience. Visit their website to connect with activities on and off campus.

Find a student association

All of our campuses have Student Representations and Student Associations. The student associations provide a variety of social, sporting, welfare and cultural events and activities, as well as offering products and services at greatly subsidised rates. Student Representations help students who have a problem or issue through active representation between its members and other student organisations in the University, the University administration and the regional community. Become a member of your Student Association now and enjoy all these benefits!

Find out about the Council of International Students Australia (CISA)

Find chaplaincy, faith and pastoral care

The Southern Cross University is fortunate in having chaplains at Gold Coast, Lismore and Coffs Harbour campuses who volunteer their time to assist members of the university community. Visit the Chaplaincy, multifaith and pastoral care website to find out more and to contact a chaplain on your campus who can assist you in connecting with major denominational churches or other major faiths in your local area.

Find childcare services

A variety of childcare options are available for children, including childcare centres, family daycare, and preschools. Whether you choose a childcare centre, family daycare centre, or preschool, carers are qualified and registered. Care is available from about 6 weeks of age upwards in family daycare and childcare centres, and from 3 - 5 for preschools. Childcare in Australia can be costly. As a guide, expect to pay around $10 - $12 per hour in a childcare centre, and around $6 - $7 per hour in family daycare. Dependents of international students are not eligible for subsidised childcare (with the exception of AusAID funded students). AusAID students are usually entitled to childcare subsidy benefits if their child is enrolled in a registered childcare centre, however this is usually dependent on the child being fully immunised. The subsidy can substantially reduce costs. 

Contact the Australian Government's Family Assistance Office for details on the Commonwealth Government Childcare Benefit Scheme.

Please note: While it is not a requirement that children entering childcare are fully immunised, some family day carers, childcare centres, and pre-schools may not accept unimmunised children. You should bring all relevant immunisation documentation for your child with you when you come to Australia. The Australian Childcare Index provides an easy-to-use website where you can search by location and the different types of childcare in your area.

Family day care

This type of childcare is provided within a private home, with a small number of children in care. The care is usually an ongoing, regular arrangement, however occasional care may also be available in emergencies. Standard hours are 8.00am - 6.00pm, but after-hours care is also available by arrangement. Some carers will provide meals at an additional charge. After school and holiday care is also available for school-aged children. The home has undergone safety inspections for suitability, and the carer is qualified and accredited.

Childcare centres

Childcare centres offer care from 8.00am - 6.00pm, Monday to Friday. They are in purpose built facilities, and offer care for babies up until the child reaches school age. Childcare centres usually offer structured early childhood play and learning activities. Some also provide meals. The Lismore campus has a children's centre on location, and all campus locations are serviced by a wide range of childcare centres located within the surrounding areas.


Preschools offer early childhood education and care for children prior to starting formal schooling. Community-operated preschools are generally open to children aged between 3-5 years of ages and preschools attached to public schools are available to children aged 4-5 years of age. Like childcare centres they offer structured play and learning activities. Preschools do not offer a meal plan. Most preschools offer care between 8.30am and 3.00pm (some operate until 4.00pm), Monday to Friday. Charges are approximately $20-23 per day.

Playgroups and other activities and support

Playgroups offer a place for parents and their young children to meet with other parents and children to socialise and play together. Some playgroups are government funded and others are run by parents. Most playgroups are very low cost and some are free. Some libraries also offer activities for babies and young children, and their parents. Most playgroups only operate during the school terms.

For more information about childcare services in Australia, visit CareforKids.

Gold Coast childcare services

  • Tweed Heads Family Day Care: 4 Park Street, Tweed Head NSW
  • Supported Playgroups: 41 Wilson Street, South Lismore (Old Scout Hall).
  • The Family Centre: 15-17 Rivendell Street, Tweed Heads South NSW. T: (07) 5524 8711. Family Centre Playgroup offers meeting places where children aged 0 - 3 years can play, while parents enjoy company and support. Playgroups are held during NSW school terms.
  • The Office for Early Childhood Education and Care provides information and contact details for a range of services and facilities available to families in Queensland, including day care, family day care, kindergartens and after school care services.
  • Tweed Heads Library: Civic Centre, Brett Street, Tweed Heads NSW T: (07) 5569 3150

Lismore childcare services

  • Southern Cross University Day Care Rifle Range Road, East Lismore E: [email protected] T: (02) 6622 2616  
  • Lismore Family Day Care: 150 Laurel Avenue, Lismore NSW
  • Supported Playgroups: 41 Wilson Street, South Lismore (Old Scout Hall).
  • Supported play groups operate during school terms only: 101a Rous Road, Goonellabah. Contact Zoe Dodd E: [email protected] T: (02) 66255809
  • Playgroups NSW
    - Community based groups usually run by parents. Contact Birgit Eider, T: (02) 66245302 E: [email protected]
    - Lismore East Playgroup - Baptist Church Hall, Uralba Street, Lismore. This is a parent run group. Contact Lisa Munn, T: 6629 0215.
  • Lismore Library - Goonellabah T: (02) 6625 1235 Lismore T: (02) 6621 2464

Coffs Harbour childcare services

  • Coffs Harbour Family Day Care - "The Cottage": 2 Peterson Road, Coffs Harbour NSW
  • Playgroup on Campus, TAFE: T: (02) 66593609 or T: (02) 66593641.
  • Coffs Harbour Family Support Services: Offer a variety of services for families. T: (02) 6659 2821
  • Family Centre: 7 McLean Street, Coffs Harbour NSW
  • Coffs Harbour Library: Branches at Woolgoolga and Toormina as well. T: (02) 6648 4900 or E: [email protected].

Find schools for ages 5-17

School attendance is compulsory for all children in Australia aged between six and 17 years of age, with most children commencing school at five years of age. In Australia, there are two main types of schools: government or state (which are public schools) and private or independent schools.

It is an immigration policy that school-age dependents of international students undertake formal schooling while they are in Australia. Students will need to provisionally enrol their children in a school before leaving their home country and will normally have to pay the school fees 12 months in advance.

School-age dependents of international students studying at the Lismore and Coffs Harbour campuses will be studying in New South Wales. School-age dependents of international students studying at the Tweed Heads and Gold Coast campuses will study in either New South Wales or Queensland. Where the student lives will have an influence on choice of school.

More information about attending school in New South Wales can be found on the NSW Department of Education and Training International website: Temporary Residents Program.

More information about attending school in Queensland can be found on the Education Queensland International website: Dependent Student Enrolment.

Travel information

While you are studying at Southern Cross University (SCU) we understand that you may want to travel within Australia and perhaps overseas. SCU has a range of services available to help you make the most of your time here.

Please ensure you notify SCU International, friends and family of your travel plans, emergency contact numbers and address so that everyone is aware of your departure and return dates to SCU.

Travel Notification

You are required to complete a 'Travel Notification Form' for overseas and domestic travel during your stay. Overseas forms must be completed for all overseas trips and domestic travel forms must be completed for trip durations of two nights or more unless your are participating in an organised SCU International trip. The international travel notification form can be accessed in MyEnrolment (eForms).

Please note the University is obliged to report students missing if SCU International staff are unable to contact you.

Travel Advice

Travel advice warnings are available from your Consulate website for your home country. The World Health Organisation provides health advice and up to date information regarding overseas travel - World Health Organisation Countries Guide

Travel Concession

The International Student Identity Card (ISIC) will allow you to get discounts on travel (not applicable to local Lismore bus lines).

Travel agents

You will find numerous travel agents in the local area to seek travel advice and book and pay for tickets.

Airlines, Coaches and Trains




Lismore is serviced by train via the township of Casino. A Countrylink coach service can transfer train passengers from Casino to Lismore. 
Countrylink T: 132 232

Transit Centre

All buses to/from the Gold Coast, Brisbane and Sydney stop at the Transit Centre. The Transit Centre has information and timetables for buses and other transport services available in the Lismore area. 
T: 02 6621 8620 Corner Molesworth and Magellan St.

Gold Coast



  • Translink T: 131 230 Train/bus/ferry services for travel around SE Queensland.
  • Premier T: 133 410
  • Greyhound T: 1300 473 946

The closest railway station to SCU is located at Varsity Lakes.

Coffs Harbour




  • Countrylink T: 132 232
  • The train station is located at Angus McLeod Place, Coffs Harbour.