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Family matters

Schooling and dependents

International students bringing a spouse or children to Australia will need to demonstrate they have sufficient funds to support them before a visa will be granted.

If you are bringing children aged between five and 18 years old with you to Australia under a dependent visa, as part of the condition of this visa, they will be required to attend school full-time.

School-aged dependents of student visa holders can attend any school that meets relevant requirements for domestic registration. They are not required to attend CRICOS-registered schools because dependents are not student visa holders (CRICOS is the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students. All Australian education providers offering courses to people studying in Australia on student visas are required to be registered on CRICOS).

The process for enrolling a school student and the fees involved differ in every state and territory of Australia. There may be additional fees, such as application and enrolment fees, involved with schooling. You should contact your child’s school to ensure you have all the information required to meet enrolment deadlines.

Some sponsored students may be exempt from paying school fees for their dependents. You should contact the education authority in the state or territory where you will be living to get information specific to your situation.

Read more about dependents of international students at www.immi.gov.au

Read more about enrolling school students at:

Child care

In Australia there is a legal obligation for parents to make sure that their children are properly looked after. Parents are expected to provide food, clothing, a place to live, safety and supervision. Parents can be charged with an offence if children are left in a dangerous situation and are not fed, clothed or provided with accommodation.

If you are an international student with a child undertaking studies in Australia, an option you may want to look into is child care. In Australia there are different types of child care services that you can consider using, depending on your needs and the needs of your child including family day care, long day care and outside school hours. There is a cost involved in all these child care options.

Family day care involves providing care for your child by a registered family day carer in their own home. Family day care provides care for small groups of children up to 12 years of age. Family day care carers work in partnership with scheme management, trained coordination unit staff and families.

Long day care is care provided for your child in a child care centre. Care may be provided for children aged from birth to five years. Long day care centres are open for at least eight hours per day, depending on the individual service.

Outside school hours care is where care is provided for your child before/after school and/or during school holidays. Not all services provide care at all of these times, so you will need to ask the service what care they can offer your child. Many schools offer before and after-school care programs (usually 7:30am-8:45am and 3:30pm-6:00pm). Children who need these programs must be registered with the school.

To decide which type of service suits your needs it is useful to visit a few services and to speak with the service staff. Some questions you might want to consider include:

  • how will I find out about my child's day?
  • what will happen if my child misbehaves?
  • does the service provide food or will I have to provide my own?
  • how will my child be looked after if he/she has a particular medical need?
  • how will the service keep my child safe?
  • is there a program for daily activities?

Finding suitable childcare in Australia requires patience and planning. Waiting lists for places in most childcare centres are long. Child care services are also able to set their own fees and, as a result, charges can vary greatly. Types of service also vary, depending on the age and needs of the child.

If you have concerns about the way your child care provider is working with your child, you should approach the child care provider to discuss the issue. If the problem is not resolved, ask them about their grievances and complaints procedures. All accredited providers are required to have these procedures in place.

Australia has a national organisation called the National Childcare Accreditation Council that administers child care quality assurance for children’s services. The council assists families by providing information in a range of languages to help guide decisions about selecting child care services. You can find child care services in your area through the NCAC website and you can contact NCAC child care advisors for advice.

There are also playgroups, where parents and their children get together for the children to learn to interact together and for the parents to chat and share information. You can find more information on playgroups all around Australia on the internet.

Read more about child care at www.ncac.gov.au

Read more about playgroups at www.playgroupaustralia.com.au

Information for parents

Becoming a parent is one of the most important and difficult things you can do as well as one of the most rewarding. Raising a child is a big responsibility and parents want their children to turn into healthy, happy and responsible adults who will be respectful of those around them.

As an international student with children you may at times want to look for supporting information for parents. The Raising Children Network is a website for parents in Australia with useful information on parenting issues and information on raising children of all ages – from newborns (0-3 months) to babies (3-12 months), toddles (1-3 years), preschool children (3-5 years) and school-age children. The website also has information on family management, pregnancy and information specifically for fathers. On the site you will also find parenting helpline contact numbers for each state and territory which provide free telephone support to parents. When you call the helpline contact numbers, staff can answer your questions and provide information about where you can go for further help. You can ask about all kinds of parenting and children-related issues such as feeding, health, development, learning and much more.

Read more information at www.raisingchildren.net.au

You should be aware that in Australia, children are protected by law from physical, sexual and emotional abuse, neglect and violence, both at home and at school, and reasonable provision must be made for their supervision and care. Physical discipline is generally discouraged, and if it causes significant harm, is illegal. It is not allowed in schools.

Where a practice harms or is likely to harm a child or young person, Child Protection Services may become involved to ensure their safety and wellbeing. If you or someone you know needs protection from violence or abuse, you should contact the police or a child protection service.

Read more information on child protection at www.childabuseprevention.com.au or contact the Child Abuse Prevention Service (CAPS) (24 Hour Freecall Crisis Line) on 1800 688 009.

Read more about child services in your state at:

Translating and interpreting services

A national Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS) for more than 160 languages and dialects is available by calling 131 450. TIS National is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for any person or organisation in Australia requiring interpreting services. For more information visit www.immi.gov.au


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