Your friend was right. Emphasis on the "was" I'm afraid. Most (about 99%) of the Indian classmates I had didn't go through the IELTS route. But sad to say, AHPRA stopped this option starting Sept 19 of this year. Only those who had at least 5 years education in US, UK, Canada, Aus, NZ, South Africa are exempted from the test.
So, it's only the IELTS for you.
Anyway, you can tell the difference between the Filipinos and the other nationalities in our class. Since all (about 99%) of the Pinoys took the IELTS, we were more eloquent in both written and oral English. The other nationalities were difficult to understand and had difficulty understanding written and oral English. This is especially true when we went on clinical duty. The others felt discriminated against by hospital staff and patients. But no Filipinos felt this though. I would surmise it was just their English speaking capability.
That said, I encourage you to review, practice, practice, and practice. Then, take the IELTS again asap. As to your plan to submit your application to AHPRA, it's entirely up to you. It does make the process faster to submit your papers while undergoing the IELTS test. But just make sure that you get the required scores soon. Once your papers get assessed, the registration officer will email you to ask for outstanding documents. And you usually are required to submit them in 30 to 60 days time. Although you can ask for an extension from this initial deadline if you give a valid reason. Let's just hope you pass the IELTS in your next try. Cheers!!!