Navigating the health system

Navigating the health system

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7 minutes

Information on how to use the ACT Health System

The health system can be confusing.  If you or someone you care for are sick or injured, it can be difficult to know which health service to use, when you can use it, and how much it will cost.

ACT Health has produced a guide to help people who have moved to the ACT, newly arrived migrants and refugees, and anyone who wants to find out more about health services in the ACT.  You can use this book to help you make the right decision about which health service to use and find out how you can access the service. You can find the Using Health Services in the ACT book here.

If you are an asylum seeker and you are not eligible for a Medicare card, you can still use health services in ACT public hospitals for free, and ACT public dental and community health services for free or at a reduced cost.  The guide explains how you can get access to these services.  You are entitled to ask how much an appointment, test, or treatment will cost before you choose whether to go ahead with it.

You can use an interpreter to help you make a health service appointment or to help you talk to the doctor in the appointment. Phone 13 14 50 for a free interpreter. Read more about interpreters here.

Useful resources

Your Health Options

Key Health Services in the ACT

These are the contact details for some of the main health services in the ACT.

  • In an emergency, always phone 000 for an ambulance.
  • If you or someone you know is having a mental health crisis, phone Access Mental Health on 1800 629 354.
  • You can call Lifeline for free counselling on 13 11 14 or visit Lifeline Australia for web and SMS chat.
  • If you think someone has taken an overdose, made an error with medicine or been poisoned, phone the Poisons Information Line on 13 11 26
  • Walk In Centres offer free help for minor illnesses and injuries. There are 5 locations in the ACT: Belconnen, Dickson, Gungahlin, Tuggeranong, and Weston Creek. They are open 7.30am to 10pm every day, including public holidays.
  • Healthdirect gives you easy access to health advice, and information about general practice and after hours medical, pharmacy and dental services in your local area. Phone 1800 022 222.
  • Community Health Intake (CHI) is the main booking line for all community-based ACT Health services and some outpatient services. To book an appointment, phone 02 5124 9977 between 8am and 5pm, Monday to Friday and 8am to 3:30pm on Wednesday. You can also cancel an appointment online.
  • ACT Pathology collection centres are based in the hospitals and many community health centres. Phone 02 5124 2816 to be directed to the centre closest to you.
  • Looking for a General Practitioner (GP), specialist, or other health service? Try the Find A Health Service page on the ACT Health website.
  • You can contact the Canberra Hospital main switchboard by phone on (02) 5124 0000.
  • You can contact the North Canberra Hospital by phone on (02) 6201 6111.

You can learn more about public health services on the Canberra Health Services website.

  • Access Mental Health is the central point of entry to access mental health services in the ACT. This includes the community mental health teams. They are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Phone 1800 629 354 or 02 6205 1065.
  • The Canberra Head to Health Centre is an adult mental health centre that provides free mental health support and referrals. You don’t need an appointment or a referral. Drop in from 8.30am-4:30pm weekdays (8:30am-7pm on Wednesdays) at Shop G7 (Ground Floor), 14 Childers Street, Canberra City. You can also call 1800 595 212.
  • Mind Map is a website for young people and their families to find mental health support in the ACT. You can also phone them from midday to 11pm every day on 1800 862 111.
  • For help in a language other than English, telephone the Telephone Interpreter Service (TIS) on 13 14 50.
  • The National Relay Service can help people who have difficulty speaking or hearing, you can call the Voice Relay number on 1300 555 727. For more options, including Auslan, visit the website.

Websites to help you navigate the ACT health system

These websites can help you find specific services in the ACT for your needs.

The Canberra Health Services Service Finder will help you find public health services in the ACT.

The Carer Navigator shares information about how the ACT mental health system works and useful information to support people caring for someone with a mental health issue. It is run by Mental Health Carers Voice (part of Carers ACT).

MindMap is a site that provides service information and support to find mental health services for children and young people in the ACT. It is run by the ACT Government and Marymead.

Having A Baby In Canberra provides comprehensive, local information all in the one place about the options and support available for women (and their partners) in the ACT and surrounding regions, from planning for your pregnancy through to the first six weeks at home with a baby. The site is created and maintained by Women’s Centre for Health Matters.

ACTeenChoices provides local service information and education about sexual and reproductive health for young people in the ACT. It is run by Women’s Centre for Health Matters.

This document has been created by A Village for Every Child. It provides information about services and programs that operate in Belconnen or across the ACT to support children and families, with a focus on, but not limited to, pregnancy to 5 years. The programs and services included are largely free or low-cost. Download the directory.

They also have a great Family Pathways Map to with pathways to help you if you have a child development, disability or health concern.

Last Updated on 19 September, 2023.