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Getting ID

Information about how an Aboriginal person can get ID and the identification they need when they leave prison.

A lot of services require people to show identification (ID) before they can get help. The kind of ID that a person needs depends on the kind of organisation they are dealing with. For example, a person needs a Medicare card to visit the doctor or to get prescriptions. They need a health care card or a pension card to get a concession on public transport.

Sometimes it takes a while to get the documents needed to prove identity. It is best to start arranging this while the person is still in prison because prison staff will be able to verify their identity. They are unlikely to help from the prison after they have left. A letter from the prison is all that is needed to get a birth certificate. This document will be very useful for getting other ID.

Identification documents will be needed to open a bank account, get a driver's licence, claim Centrelink payments, rent a house, apply for credit and even borrow a DVD. A prisoner will need ID from the time they leave prison.

It is common for organisations to ask for 100 points of ID. Some kinds of ID are worth more points than others. This depends on the organisation. It is better to have more than 1 kind of ID. Documents with photo ID are usually worth more points than other kinds of ID.

Useful ID to have

In addition to a Birth Certificate it is really useful to get and ID with a photo. A proof of age card is useful if the person does not have a passport or driver licence.

At a minimum the person should get:

  • proof of birth (birth certificate or passport)
  • photo ID (proof of age or driver licence)
  • Medicare card
  • Bank card (ATM card)

A medicate card is free and birth certificates do not expire. These are probably the most important documents to have. The cost of getting a copy of a birth certificate is $26.60 plus postage (current at 5 June 2015).

Birth certificates for people born interstate

Birth certificates are issued by state government registries so if a person was born outside Victoria they will need to apply to their birth state for a copy of their birth certificate. Prison staff will be able to help and should be able to get the application form and a letter to verify the person's identity that will be needed to get the certificate.

For links to interstate registries see Services and info for clients.

Driver licence

When the person's driver licence is about to expire, VicRoads will send a renewal notice to the last known address. The prisoner will need to change their address if they are in prison. If the licence has already expired (less than 5 years ago) the prisoner can call VicRoads and ask for a renewal notice. If the licence expired more than 5 years ago the driver will have to pass a practical driving test and a knowledge test as well as paying the fee.

See VicRoads—Renew, replace or update your licence or learner permit.

Proof of age card

Prison staff can help a prisoner to apply for a proof of identity card. The prisoner will also need to get their photo taken. This is something that can be organised while the person is in prison. Application forms are available from post offices. These cards cost $10. Applicants will need to get an authorised referee who can witness them signing a statutory declaration form.

Medicare card

If the prisoner needs a replacement Medicare card they will need to let Medicare know about their new address. Prison staff will be able to help get a replacement card.

See Services Australia—Medicare(opens in a new window).

More information


Victorian Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders (VACRO)

VACRO aims to help people who have been released from prison to ease the transition back into community life. To do this, they assist with reunification with family and work with offenders to establish a stable base that includes accommodation and employment.

The publication below has information about the kinds of identification that might be useful for Aboriginal prisoners when they leave prison and how to get it.

See 'Getting started'—'Indigenous transition' in VACRO—How we help(opens in a new window).

Births, Deaths and Marriages Victoria

A person can apply online for a copy of their birth certificate.

See Births Deaths Marriages Victoria(opens in a new window).


See VicRoads—Renew, replace or update your licence or learner permit.


The medicare office is now part of Services Australia (formerly Department of Human Services).

See Services Australia—Medicare(opens in a new window).