Moving to another country can feel both exciting and daunting. Everything feels new and unfamiliar. The culture and customs may be different to what you’re used to. The good news is Australia is a culturally diverse country and has many useful links and resources available for newly arrived migrants.
There are some basic things you can do when you arrive to get yourself set up. This will allow you to find a job, have a bank account, get medical care should you need it, and find your way around.
Once you’re set up, you can explore further what this country has to offer. There are many community groups, sporting facilities and places to travel that will provide you with many fun activities to enjoy and immerse you into Australian culture.
If your visa enables you to work in Australia, you need to apply for a tax file number from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). You can either do this by visiting an office, calling them or applying on their website.
Phone: 13 2861
Keep your money safe and accessible by opening an Australian bank account. If you start working, your salary will be paid directly into your bank account. If you will be receiving government benefits, this will also be paid directly into your bank account. You can use your debit card to withdraw money from your account via the bank, ATM and in some stores, and to make purchases.
Opening a bank account within 6 weeks of your arrival means you will only need your passport as identification. After 6 weeks, you will need additional identification. Remember to also advise your bank of your Tax File Number (see TFN information above).
Australian Bankers Association website: https://www.ausbanking.org.au/
Or visit your local branch and ask a member of staff.
A government agency called Centrelink provides a range of financial, health and support services. Register with Centrelink to find out if you’re eligible to receive any payments or benefits. They can also help with finding a job, and identify what overseas skills will be recognised in Australia.
Australian Department of Human Services website: https://www.humanservices.gov.au/customer/enablers/register-online-account
Find your nearest Centrelink Service Centre: https://findus.humanservices.gov.au/
For general information regarding financial management, the Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) have information available on their Money Smart website. Here you will find free and impartial financial guidance and tools about debt help, insurance, superannuation and borrowing.
Understanding Money website www.moneysmart.gov.au
In Australia, jobs are advertised in the national and local papers and online. Government agency Centrelink can also help with job opportunities. Below are some places to get you started on your path to finding that dream job!
If you need advice about fair work practices, contact the Fair Work Ombudsman or Fair Work Commission:
Not in a position to work? Volunteering can be a great way to connect with your community and gain work experience. Join many Australians who volunteer their time every year. Who knows what opportunities may come your way!
Australia has a public health insurance system, known as Medicare, and a public hospital system, however overseas visitors are generally not eligible for Medicare coverage or free treatment in public hospitals.
This means that overseas visitors who need hospital or medical treatment while they are in Australia will have to pay for these services, and the costs can potentially be significant. If your visa is subject to visa condition 8501, you must maintain adequate arrangements for health insurance while you are in Australia
For those visiting Australia on a temporary visa, Overseas Visitors Health Cover (OVHC) is required, which is health insurance designed for international visitors on a temporary resident visa. As a temporary resident, it is normally a condition of your visa that you maintain an appropriate level of health insurance cover for the duration of your stay in Australia.
If you're a student, you will be required to take out Overseas Student Health Cover.
For new arrivals that are eligible, the Australian Government provides health care assistance through Medicare. By joining Medicare you can receive free general practitioner and public hospital care, and help with the cost of some medical treatments and medicines.
Registering is straight forward – you just need to visit a Medicare office, taking your passport and visa information with you. If you are eligible, you will receive a temporary Medicare card with your number to use straight away. You will receive your official Medicare card in the post a few weeks later.
To Register with Medicare:
If you’re not feeling well, and it’s not an urgent matter, a family doctor or general practitioner (GP) will be able to help you. Find your local medical centre online or in the Yellow Pages directory. Simply phone them to make an appointment and take your Medicare card along with you (see Medicare above for info).
By visiting a medical centre that offers ‘bulk billing’ means you are not expected to pay for your appointment provided you have your Medicare card. If you require additional medical treatment, such as blood tests or xray’s, ask if there are bulk billing options. You may need to pay a portion of the cost for out-of-hospital treatments.
Dental services are not covered by Medicare. This means you will need to pay for any treatment provided by private dental practices. Find them online or in the Yellow Pages. If you are eligible for a health care card via Centrelink you may be able to get subsidised treatment at community health centres.
In an emergency situation dial 000 (triple zero) and ask for Ambulance, Fire or Police. You will need to tell the telephone operator your name and where you are. If you need a translator, then say what language you need and you will be connected to an interpreter.
Emergency medical treatment is available on a 24 hour basis at the 'Casualty' or 'Emergency' departments of public hospitals. If you need an ambulance, you may have to pay if you don’t have an ambulance membership as this service is not covered by Medicare. The amount you would need to pay depends on your situation.
Settling in Australia can be made a lot easier if you are able to communicate and understand English well. English Language Courses are provided by the Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP). You may be eligible to receive a number of hours tuition for free.
If you have children aged between 5 yrs and 17 yrs, you must enroll them into school as soon as possible. You have the option to send your children to a government or non-government school. Your children can also access intensive English language assistance if required.
To find schools in your local area, search online or in the White Pages directory.
Australia has many local libraries offering the borrowing of books for free, as well as internet services. Libraries are a great resource for education and information for all ages.
Going To Uni:
There are many houses available to buy or rent across Australia. They are advertised in the paper, online and at local real estate agency offices. Online resources such as RealEstate.com.au and Domain.com.au list most of the properties available at any given time.
If you rent, your local real estate agent managing the property will advise you on what documents you need to supply along with your application, such as identification and proof of income. You will be required to pay a ‘Bond’ which is usually equivalent to a months rent.
You will receive a Bond Receipt once it is lodged with the Department of Justice & Regulation. This protects the landlord and the tenant should there be any issues that arise during or at the end of your tenancy.
If you’re after shared accommodation, another great online resource is a website called Gumtree. This is an online classifieds site where people offer a room within their house or apartment, sometimes already furnished, to share with other people. This is popular with students and young professionals.
Looking for something for your home? Besides the big department stores, such as Bunnings Warehouse, Target and IKEA, you can search for local businesses using the Yellow Pages, True Local or Gumtree. If you want to get your hands on a second hand bargain, there are several websites you can search on for that perfect piece!
If you’re a Facebook user, search for ‘Buy Sell Swap’ groups in your local area. You are usually required to pick up the item yourself and pay in cash, so be prepared to organise your own transportation.
If your need is service based, you can also find plumbers, mechanics and maintenance companies on Yellow Pages, True Local and Gumtree.
The internet is available via wireless devices and in your home. You will need to sign up to a contract with an internet service provider, such as Telstra, Optus, iiNet, TPG, Virgin, iPrimus or Vodafone (to name a few). Or you can buy pre-paid wireless internet connections.
For free internet access, most public libraries and Centrelink offices can offer you some access. Some cafes, such as Starbucks outlets, offer wifi access, though it’s not widely available outside major cities.
If you want to keep up with news from your home country, there are a number of television channels that air news from a variety of other countries. The SBS channel, for example, has television and radio stations dedicated to different community languages.
There are a number of television channels that are free of charge (ABC, Channel 7, Channel 9, Channel 10 and SBS), or you can subscribe via a paid contract, such as Foxtel (offered via Telstra).
In Australia there are Commonwealth, State or Territory, and Local levels of government. The States and Territories are divided into local government areas, managed by councils. Your local council provides services to people in the local community, such as garbage collection and road maintenance.
You can visit your local council for information booklets on all the services available to you. Find their address or telephone number in the White Pages directory.
For Local Government Information:
The most convenient way to get around Australia is in your own car. Your car needs to be registered with the government, and you must have a driver’s licence.
Registrations and licences are issued by your State or Territory government body. In most cases, in the first 3 months of your arrival into Australia you can drive with your current licence (if you have one already), but you will need to check it’s valid with your local authority.
There are many convenient ways to get around on public transport. Public transport across Australia includes trains, buses, trams and ferries (depending on where you live!). Generally speaking, taking public transport is safe, but always take care of your possessions and don’t display your valuables.
You will need to buy a ticket or travel card to use most services. Concessions are available for students, seniors and Health Care Card holders. Tickets. Travelcards and Timetables are available at railway stations, post offices, libraries and public information centres or online.
Australia also operates long distance bus and rail services. Australia’s national coach operator, Greyhound, offer comfortable and affordable transport. The country can also be explored by rail. Countrylink trains connect NSW and East Coast destinations. VLine trains link to Melbourne and VIC, Traveltrain covers QLD and TransWA zig-zags WA.
Taxi cabs operate throughout Australia and are usually available 24 hours a day. Unlike America and England, it is quite acceptable to sit in the passenger seat of the taxi and have a chat! The fare is shown on a meter on the dashboard. You can order larger cars for groups or wheelchair friendly taxis in most cities. Find your local cab company by searching online or using the Yellow Pages directory.
If you’re travelling a bit further than down to your local shops, there are several airports located throughout Australia where many reputable airlines operate frequent flights. Australia’s domestic airlines include Qantas, Jetstar, Virgin Australia and Rex and their subsidiaries.
The weather can differ from season to season depending on where in Australia you live. It can also vary from day to day (from blazing hot to torrential rain!). The sun is very strong and can be harmful to your skin if you’re not wearing protection. Wearing sun cream and a hat and making sure to stay hydrated should keep you out of harms way.
Life isn’t all about working and paying bills. Enjoying the sights and sounds of Australia with family and friends should also be enjoyed by all! You don’t necessarily have to spend all your savings to enjoy what Australia has to offer either, with so many beaches, parks and cities to explore.
This content was compiled by AWP Australia Pty Ltd ABN 52 097 227 177 trading as and Allianz Global Assistance (AGA) in April 2016. While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of all information as at the date of publishing, AGA does not accept liability for any errors or omissions.