A brief guide to Australia

Information for overseas nurses wishing to work in Australia.


Australian currency ($A) is decimal with the dollar as the basic unit (100 cents equals one dollar). Notes come in $100, $50, $20, $10, and $5 denominations. Coins come in $2, $1, 50c, 20c, 10c and 5c denominations. Prices are rounded to the nearest 5c.

Credit cards

The most commonly accepted credit cards are American Express, Bankcard, Diners Club, MasterCard, Visa and JCB.

Banks and various locations have ATMs (Automated Teller Machines). Credit cards may need to be enabled for international access so contact your credit card provider.

Currency exchange

Exchange facilities are available at international airports. Changing foreign currency or traveler’s cheques can be done at most banks.

Health & safety

You will encounter few health hazards when traveling in Australia, and hygiene standards are high. Below is a brief outline of some of the issues you need to take into consideration.

Sun protection

Enjoy outdoor activities in Australia’s beautiful weather, but minimise your exposure to the sun. Wear a broad-brimmed hat, cover up and apply water-resistant sunscreen frequently.

Surf & water safety

Australia is fringed with superb beaches just waiting to be enjoyed. As with all beaches, it is advisable to follow basic precautions. Popular beaches are usually patrolled by volunteer lifesavers from October to April. Always swim or surf at patrolled beaches between the red and yellow flags which mark the safest area for swimming. Take your time entering the water, and don’t swim alone. Also, don’t forget to protect yourself from the sun – take your hat, sunglasses, sunscreen and cover up, particularly in the middle of the day.

From late October to early May, venomous box jellyfish, also called stingers or sea wasps, occur in the coastal waters of northern Australia and around many of the Queensland islands

In the Northern Territory, the stingers are present at all beaches, and in Western Australia they are found along the Kimberley coastline. Beaches usually have warning signs during this time, and visitors are advised to swim where protective enclosures are provided.


Hitchhiking is strongly discouraged throughout Australia. Public and private transport operates between most cities and towns.


Travel insurance, with comprehensive health cover, is strongly recommended. Comprehensive insurance should be taken out before departure.


Medicare is Australia’s public health care system. Eligibility is generally restricted to permanent residents of Australia.

Australia has Reciprocal Health Care Agreements with Finland, Italy, Malta, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland.

General health

You should protect yourself from risks such as HIV and other sexually transmitted disease.

Visa’s & entry

Traveler’s to Australia need a valid passport or similar certificate of identification. Everyone, except traveler’s with Australian or New Zealand passports, requires a visa or an ETA (Electronic Travel Authority) to enter Australia. New Zealand passport holders apply for a visa upon arrival in Australia. All other passport holders must hold a visa or ETA before traveling to Australia.

Visas & ETAs

An ETA is equivalent to a visa, but there is no stamp or label in your passport and there is no need for you to visit an Australian diplomatic office to submit an application. If you are eligible, the ETA is issued electronically by a computer system operated for the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs (DIMIA) of Australia. To make things easy for you the Australian Government has made it possible to arrange an ETA via the Internet – no application forms and no contact with an Australian visa office is necessary.

Visit the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs’ website for further information on tourist visas, working holidays, business visits, students, immigration, Electronic Travel Authority (ETAs), visas and other useful contacts. For the location of your nearest Australian consulate go to Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s website.


There are strict laws prohibiting or restricting the entry of drugs, steroids, weapons, firearms, protected wildlife and associated products. If you are unsure about anything declare it to Customs upon arrival.

Tax Free/Duty Free

Each traveler over 18 years of age can bring into Australia 1125ml of alcoholic liquor and 250 cigarettes or 250 grams of tobacco products duty/tax free. For other goods, including those intended as gifts, a duty/tax-free allowance of $A400 per person or $A200 per person under 18 is available. These articles must accompany you through Customs and must not be intended for commercial purposes.

Cash & foreign currency

If you bring in or take out of Australia more than $A10,000 cash or the equivalent in foreign currency (travelers cheques excluded), you must declare it to Customs. Failure to do is an offence.


Medicinal products brought into Australia are subject to strict controls and should be declared on arrival. It is advisable to have a letter or prescription from your doctor describing your medical condition and the medication.

Luggage inspection

Luggage and hand baggage may be inspected before passengers board domestic and international flights. Also upon arrival into Australia all luggage may be inspected. You need to declare all items of a quarantine concern, otherwise you may be fined or prosecuted. For further information please see Department of Immigration & Multicultural Affairs.

Departure Tax

Australia’s Passenger Movement Charge (departure tax) is prepaid with your international airline ticket.


Australia has strict quarantine regulations. Australia is free from many pests and diseases found elsewhere in the world. It’s vital that you declare any food, plant or animal items upon arrival, including fresh and packaged food, fruit, eggs, meat, vegetables, seeds, animals, wood and plants. You can dispose of these items at bins found in international airports. For further information see the Australian Quarantine Inspection Service.


Vaccinations are not required unless you have come from, or visited a yellow fever infected country or zone within six days before arrival. No other health certificate is required to enter Australia. For further information see Department of Health and Aged Care and World Health Organisation.

Everything else

It would take us years to tell you everything that www.sydney.com has on their website.

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