When diving in Australia there are different regulations and requirements compared to those in other countries. The following rules apply in Queensland:
Introductory or Resort Dives: You will need to fill in a Medical Questionnaire given to you by the company you are diving with, and similar to that shown below. If answering YES to any question it will not necessarily disqualify you from diving, but will indicate the need for a medical assessment by a qualified physician prior to diving that conforms to Australian Medical Standard AS4005-1.
Learn To Dive Courses and Referral Programs: You will need to pass a Dive Medical which has been done in accordance with Australian Standards (AS4005.1) Please be well aware of this and only do a medical outside of Australia if your doctor conducts it in accordance to those exact standards and clearly states it on the top of the medical certificate that he issues. If yours does not state this, there is a very high chance you will have to do another medical in Australia. A dive medical is relatively cheap in Australia at approximately AUD$55.00.
Experienced Divers: Prior to diving, you may be asked to fill out a Medical Questionnaire; this is not a legal requirement but is done in the your own best interests. Some companies make it policy and some don't, unfortunately it is still quite a grey area and the rules are not hard and fast.
The purpose of the questionnaire is to determine whether you should be examined by a doctor. There may be a pre-existing condition that has not stopped you from diving in your own country, but Australian laws do not allow; or perhaps there could be a new condition developed since you became qualified to dive which may well affect your safety while diving now.
So, basically if you answer YES to any of the conditions listed on the Medical Questionnaire (see sample below), we strongly recommend you to see a physician for further assessment. As mentioned above it is far better to visit a physician whilst in Australia, as a valid medical in Australia is one that complies with Australian Standards (AS4005.1).
If you are qualified and are sitting at your desk thinking that you are fine and that all this medical stuff really does not concern you, let us finish by saying that there have been many cases where a qualified diver has been disqualified from diving when they have already made the trek to the reef, simply because their medical condition becomes known to the dive instructor. At the end of the day the dive instructor is controlling the dives, and your safety is their responsibility whether you like it or not!
Sample Medical Questionnaire
Please note that this is a sample only and may not be same as the questionnaire that you are issued onboard your dive/snorkel trip
- Could you be pregnant or are you attempting to become pregnant?
- Are you presently taking prescription medications? (with the exception of birth control or anti-malarial)
- Are you over 45 years of age and can answer YES to one or more of the following?
- currently smoke a pipe, cigars or cigarettes
- have a high cholesterol level
- have a family history of heart attack or stroke
- are currently receiving medical care
- high blood pressure
- diabetes mellitus, even if controlled by diet alone
- Have you ever had or do you currently have:
- Asthma, wheezing with breathing or wheezing with exercise?
- Frequent or severe attacks of hayfever or allergy?
- Frequent colds, sinusitis or bronchitis?
- Any form of lung disease?
- Pneumothorax (collapsed lung)?
- Other chest disease or chest surgery?
- Behavioural health, mental or psychological problems (panic attack, fear or closed or open spaces)?
- Epilepsy, seizures, convulsions or take medications to prevent them?
- Recurring complicated migraine headaches or take medications to prevent them?
- Blackouts or fainting (full/partial loss of consciousness)?
- Frequent or severe suffering from motion sickness (seasick, carsick, etc)?
- Dysentery or dehydration requiring medical intervention?
- Any dive accidents or decompression sickness?
- Inability to perform moderate exercise (example: walk 1.6klm/one mile within 12 mins.)?
- Head injury with loss of consciousness in the past five years?
- Recurrent back problems?
- Back or spinal surgery?
- Back, arm or leg problems following surgery, injury or fracture?
- High blood pressure or take medicine to control blood pressure?
- Heart disease?
- Heart attack?
- Angina, heart surgery or blood vessel surgery?
- Sinus surgery?
- Ear disease or surgery, hearing loss or problems with balance?
- Recurrent ear problems?
- Bleeding or other blood disorders?
- Ulcers or ulcer surgery?
- A colostomy or ileostomy?
- Recreational drug use or treatment for, or alcoholism in the past five years?
Don't let yourself find out after you reach the reef that you don't qualify medically, as it may very well be a wasted trip to the reef.
Please note that dive medicals are performed by independent doctors, not dive companies, and it is ultimately the decision of the doctor whether to pass you as medically fit to dive. If you are diving in North Queensland, your dive medical must be to Australian Standard 4005.1 (2002) or, due to Government regulation, it will not be accepted.
The following Medical Centres in Cairns specialise in dive medicals.
- Cairns 24 Hour Medical Centre
Cnr Florence and Grafton Sts, Cairns
Ph: 07 4052 1119
- Cairns Central Medical Centre
112a Cairns Central Shopping Centre, McLeod St, Cairns
Ph: 07 4031 3717
- Cairns Sports Medicine
126 Mulgrave Rd, Cairns (Opposite Cairns Showgrounds)
Ph: 07 4051 3944
- Cairns Tourist & Local Medical Services
15 Lake Street, Cairns
Ph: 07 4041 1699
- Central Plaza Doctors
Cnr McLeod & Aplin Streets, Cairns
Ph: 07 4046 8600
» More information on dive medicals...