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What you need to know

Australia’s government

Australia has three levels of government – commonwealth (or federal), state or territory, and local – which provide services for migrants and residents.

The states (New South Wales (NSW), Queensland (Qld), South Australia(SA),Tasmania(Tas.), Victoria (Vic.) and Western Australia (WA)) and the Northern Territory (NT) are divided into many local government areas, managed by local councils. In Canberra, the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Government provides local council services as well as many services usually provided by state governments.

For more information on how government works in Australia.
Telephones –making calls

In Australia, telephone calls can be made from fixed-line phones (or land lines), payphones or mobile phones. Phone numbers can start with

13/1300 (local rate)
1800 (free call)
04 (mobile) or
02,03,07,08 (local or geographic area code).

The area code is not required if you are phoning from a number with the same area code. Calls from one mobile phone to another do not require area codes.

The cost of the call varies depending on the type of phone you are calling from, the telephone company you use and the call plan you have chosen. If you are uncertain about the cost of the call you should check with your telephone company.

For information about call charges to 13/1300 or 1800 numbers in Australia, see numbers/Special numbers/charges-forcalls-to-13-1300-and-1800-numbers-i-acma

To make a call to a telephone number that does not begin with 13, 1300 or 1800:

If phoning from within Australia, enter the area code and then the number. For example, to call from Melbourne to Sydney, you would dial area code 02 (for Sydney), then the number.
If phoning from outside Australia:
When using a land line, enter the international dialling code for the country you are calling from, followed by the Australian prefix 61, the area code without the 0, and then the number.
When using a mobile, dial +61, followed by the area code without the 0, and then the number.
For calls to an Australian mobile number, you should check with your local provider whether an international dialling code is required and then dial +61, followed by the number without the 0 in the area code.

If you want to call an international number from Australia, use Australia’s international dialling code – 0011.
Telephone directories

There are two main Australian telephone directories. The Yellow Pages lists business numbers such as shops and tradesmen by the type of service or product. The White Pageslists businesses and residents by name. The White Pages also has a government section with contact details for local, state or territory and Australian Government agencies. They are referred to throughout this booklet.

These phone books are free and are delivered to every household each year. They are also available in post offices and libraries. Online, you can access the Yellow Pages at and the White Pages at or call Directory Assistance on 1223 (free call).
Time zones

There are three time zones in Australia – Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST or EST), Australian Central Standard Time (ACST) and Australian Western Standard Time (AWST).

Daylight Saving Time applies to some states from October to April – go to for information.

Many organisations have options so that you don’t have to come into their offices to solve problems or register for a service. Self-service options include phone lines and online accounts.

You can do most of your Centrelink, Medicare and Child Support business using self-service through:

myGov at
the Express Plus mobile apps at
phone 136 240 for self service or

For more information please go to 

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