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Legal advice

One of the reasons we have such a wonderful lifestyle in Australia is due to our representative democracy, the separation of powers, and our respect for the rule of law. We have a lot of laws in Australia and as a result, society runs smoothly.

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. Failure to comply with the laws of this land (including State and Territory laws) 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. Nobody wants this to happen!

You can find a comprehensive outline of Australian laws online.

Your rights

Your most basic right is to be considered innocent until proven guilty in court. If you are arrested, you need not answer any police questions or make any statement- unless it is a traffic offence. Nor are you obliged to hand over your passport.


If you are arrested, the police should allow you to make one phone call. You also have a right to ask for bail. The police cannot threaten or injure you, or force you to go with them unless it is an arrest. It is wise to cooperate with the police; if you remain polite and calm, you can explain the position clearly.

Do not attempt to bribe anyone, especially a policeman.


Make sure you understand any agreement you make when you sign for purchases including coupons you cut out from magazines, any hire-purchases or rentals.

Remember to always ask for a receipt for any payment made!

Child Protection Laws

In Australia, child protection is the responsibility of the community services departments in each State and Territory. Departments are responsible for the protection of children who have been abused or neglected, or whose parents cannot provide adequate care or protection for them. Information about the States and Territories responsible for protecting children is provided by the National Child Protection Clearinghouse.

UC's Health-Justice legal advice clinic

UC's Health-Justice legal advice clinic is open for appointments on Tuesdays in the Multi-Faith Centre, Building 1, 1C104. The clinic is run by lawyers and supported by students who are gaining legal practice experience towards their legal qualification. The service is free, confidential and open to UC students and anyone in the community who may be experiencing legal issues around employment, discrimination, housing, immigration or other areas of concern.

Appointments can be made through reception at the Medical & Counselling Centre - 6201 2351.

Free and confidential legal advice services in the ACT

Legal Aid:

The Legal Aid Commission of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) is established under the Legal Aid Act 1977. The aim of the Commission is to work to inform people of their legal rights and obligations and to improve their access to the justice system. The ACT Legal Aid Office is able to provide one free consultation to students. Appointments can be made through the International Student Adviser. The Legal Aid office may not represent you in Court but you will receive free advice on what to do about your matter.

Main Office:

Main Office Address: 4 Mort Street Civic
Postal Address: GPO Box 512 Canberra ACT 2601
Phone: (02) 6243 3471
Website: Legal Aid ACT

Woden Office:

Woden Office Address: PA Chambers 18 Corinna Street Woden ACT 2606

The office at Woden provides free legal advice. Appointments can be made by telephoning (02) 6243 3471.

Legal Aid Helpline

Help with legal problems is available through the Legal Aid Helpline on 1300 654 314 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday to Friday.

The After Hours Legal Aid Helpline for people in custody or other urgent matters, is available from 6 p.m. to 9 a.m. Mondays to Thursdays, and 6 p.m. Friday to 9 a.m. Monday on 0429 440 084.

Domestic Violence and Personal Protection Order Unit

The Domestic Violence and Personal Protection Order Unit is located at the Magistrates Court. Telephone (02) 6207 1874 for information and appointments.

Youth Law Centre

The Youth Law Centre (YLC) is a free and confidential legal advice and referral service for young people aged between 12 - 25. The Centre operates a drop-in centre in Civic which is open each weekday afternoon between 1-5pm. The YLC also provides assistance over the phone and by e-mail.

The YLC provides one-off advice and assistance in a wide range of areas, including:

  • car accidents
  • consumer issues
  • debt
  • residential tenancy
  • criminal matters
  • traffic offences
  • employment and apprenticeships
  • discrimination, and
  • protection orders.

Opening hours: 1-5pm, Monday to Friday
Address: Level 1 Savings House, 8-10 Petrie Plaza, Canberra, ACT   
Ph: (02) 6262 7077
Website: Youth Law Centre ACT

Other helpful Links:

Office for Children, Youth and Family Support

The Office for Children, Youth and Family Support works in partnership with the community to provide care and protection services to children and young people, and family and community support to meet the needs of the people of Canberra. In addition, the Office is responsible for youth justice services and the monitoring and licensing of children's services.

The Office for Children, Youth and Family Support contracts a range of services from the non-government sector to meet the needs of young people. These services include:

  • Youth Centres
  • Youth Support Services
  • Youth development programs and
  • Youth Plan and Sector development

Care and Protection services are responsible for facilitating coordination across government for the care and protection of children and young people. Care and Protection services include three Regional Offices and an After Hours service, who provide a continuum of service delivery to children and young people considered 'at risk' of serious harm.

Ph: 1300 653 227
Website: Department of Social Services

Other non-profit legal services in the ACT

Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC)

DIBP requires international student visa holders to maintain OSHC for the duration of their visa. UC's preferred OSHC provider is Allianz Global Assistance and you can request UC to schedule OSHC on your behalf via the application process.

New students:

For new students, you can either request UC to schedule OSHC on your behalf (with Allianz Global Assistance) or purchase it before you come to Australia, to cover you from when you arrive.

If using Allianz Global Assistance OSHC, UC encourages all new students to download their OSHC Assistant App as soon as possible to have all information on hand. After arriving in Australia, you can order your card online by using their OSHC Assistant App. If you require help with the Allianz Assistance Global App or ordering your Membership card this handy PDF will answer all your questions.

For information on what you are covered for with your OSHC please refer to the website of your OSHC provider.

Continuing students:

If you would like to extend your OSHC or have other questions about OSHC, you can consult an Allianz OSHC representative in Student Central at the following times:

Tuesday 10am - 12pm and 1pm - 4pm  
Wednesday 10am - 12pm and 1pm - 4pm  
Thursday 10am - 12pm and 1pm - 4pm  

Family OSHC

If your family is accompanying you to Australia it is important (and a compulsory visa requirement) that you upgrade your OSHC cover from single to family cover for the duration of your course. To upgrade your membership to family cover, you may visit the Allianz website or visit the Allianz representative at the Student Centre.

Study Load

International student visa holder are expected to enrol in a study load that will enable them to complete their course by the end date, as specified on their Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE). At UC, this generally requires a student to enrol in 12 credit points per compulsory teaching period. In addition, students must not exceed one third of their attempted enrolment via online or distance learning and must be enrolled in at least one on-campus unit each compulsory teaching period.

Academic Progress

It is a visa condition for all International to maintain satisfactory academic progress in line with the University's Academic Progress Policy.

If in need, make sure you take advantage of UC's Study Skills service!

Change in Address

All International students must notify the University of their current Australian residential and mailing addresses within 7 days of arrival in the country. If you change your address or contact details, you need to update these via your MyUC portal at your earliest convenience.

Working in Australia

All international students who hold an international student visa are automatically granted permission to work 40 hours per fortnight during study periods. During study breaks, there are no work limitations (providing you have no active enrolment).

Before you start working in Australia, you must obtain a Tax File Number (TFN).

All people working in Australia have rights and protections in the workplace. The workplace ombudsman makes sure that these rights are protected and enforced fairly under Australia's workplace relations laws. If you would like to learn more about your workplace rights, please visit the Fair Work Ombudsman's website.

The Australian Government wants to ensure that the rights of overseas students studying in Australia are protected. Australia has laws to promote quality education and consumer protection for our overseas students. Together these laws are known as the ESOS Framework and they include:

  1. The Education Services for Overseas Students (ESOS) Act 2000
  2. The Education Services for Overseas Students (ESOS) Regulations 2001
  3. National Code of Practice for Providers of Education and Training to Overseas Students 2017 –  these standards set out the obligations on registered providers in delivering education and training to overseas students

To access the above three ESOS Framework legislation, please refer to the Federal Register of Legislation's website.

University's responsibilities:

The University's policy database sets out the key documents for grounds and procedure for students' change in enrolment status, fees issues, general and academic conduct and course progress. The University is required to report international students who are in breach of their student visa conditions.

The University of Canberra's International Student Fee Policy outlines sets out the University of Canberra's requirements for charging, collecting and refunding international student fees.

Information provided by students may be made available to Commonwealth and State agencies as required by the ESOS Act and related legislation. You have the right to gain access to your personal information held by the University. For further information please refer to the University's Privacy Policy.

UC's Student Central, located in Building 1 is your 'one-stop-shop' for guidance on international administrative matters.

Students' responsibilities:

All students are required to comply with the University's relevant policies and procedures. If you hold a student visa, you should also be aware of the following:

  • You are required to finish your studies by the end date on your Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE). The University can only extend the enrolment of your course if you have reasonable grounds.
  • You must hold a valid visa at all times in Australia. Remember to renew your visa if it is about to expire.
  • You must adhere to the conditions of your student visa, including those related to work limitations, health insurance requirements, course progress and notifying the University of any changes to your address and contact details.

The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) requires all international students who will be under 18 years of age when entering Australia on a student visa, to have appropriate accommodation, support and welfare arrangements in place. For broad information about Under-18 student welfare arrangement please visit the DHA' website.

When you apply for a student visa, you will need to provide evidence of one of the following, namely that:

  1. A parent/legal custodian or relative over 21 years will accompany you as a Student Guardian visa (subclass 590) holder. This person must apply for the Student Guardian visa; or
  2. You will be living in Australia with a parent/legal custodian or a relative over 21 years. This person must have a visa to remain in Australia for the duration of your student visa or until you turn 18; or
  3. The University has approved your care arrangements and hence issued a Confirmation of Appropriate Accommodation and Welfare (CAAW) letter.

In all instances, applicants to the University must complete the Welfare Arrangement Form for Under-18 Students before a Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE) can be issued. This form is provided to applicants when they receive a letter of offer.

UC Approved Care Arrangements:

The University of Canberra will only issue a CAAW letter where the applicant has provided evidence of making guardianship and accommodation arrangements through both:

  • The ISA Guardian and Welfare Service, which provides guardianship to students under the age of 18 who may not have any relatives in Australia. Further information on this service and how to apply can be found at
  • The Australian Homestay Network (AHN). See for more information and to register.

Applicants are not required to finalise these arrangements until they are directed to accept an offer to the University of Canberra. Applicants who have received a Provisional Offer cannot accept their offer until they have passed the University’s Genuine Temporary Entrant (GTE) assessment.

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