Australia > Moving

How To Move To Australia - The Definitive Guide

Click a link to go directly to a specific section:

Apply For A Visa
Find A Job
Rent Property
Buy Property
Register For Healthcare
Open A Bank Account
Learn The Language
Choose A School



Apply For A Visa

[back to top]

Unless you are an Australian passport holder or a qualifying New Zealand passport holder, the government of Australia requires all people to have an Australian visa to enter the country. There are various categories of Australian visas, each designed for specific individuals or professionals who want to come into the country. The visa categories include: work visa, student visa, visitor visa, student guardian visa, training visa and entrepreneur visa, among others. Each visa category has its own specific requirements and eligibility criteria. However, all visa applicants should meet the following conditions no matter the category:

• The applicant must be proficient in English: Non-native English speakers are required to attain a certain score specified on their visa category or book English classes before they arrive in Australia.
• The applicant must have relevant skills and qualifications that match those on Australia’s Skilled Occupations List or those required by their employer.
• Depending on their profession, permanent and some temporary visa applicants are required to meet the health requirements specified on their visa application forms. Individuals who are required to have a medical examination are advised to consult the embassy for a list of government-approved doctors.
• The applicant must have good character because visa applicants are assessed partly on their character. They are required to provide penal clearance certificates.
• The applicant must show that they are willing to accept the Australian way of life and obey the local laws by signing the Australian values statement.

Information for visitors

Identifying the visa you are required to apply for and its requirements is one of the most important things you should know if you are planning to visit or move to Australia. In addition, you should know what to expect when travelling through Australian airports and seaports, such as the duty-free concession limits and what not to carry.

Visitor Visas

If you plan to visit Australia for short-term, non-work commitments like visiting your friend or relative, or just for tourism or medical reasons, you will be required to have a valid visa irrespective of the time you intend to spend in Australia. The length of your stay, your passport, your current location, and the purpose of your visit will determine the type of visitor visa you will get.

Entrepreneur or Work Visa

Entrepreneurs are required to submit an expression of interest in a particular skill set and should be nominated by the government when applying for an entrepreneur visa. These are some of the things that businesspeople interested in investing in Australia should know if they intend to apply for an Entrepreneur visa:

• The applicant should apply with the intention of undertaking an entrepreneurial venture in Australia.
• Entrepreneurial ventures that entail residential real estate, labor hire, or the purchase of an already existing business are not allowed.
• The applicant must be proficient in English.
• The applicant should have a stake of at least 30% in the business venture.
• The applicant should not be older than 55 years.
• At least one funding agreement of not less than $200,000 must be in place between the entrepreneur and a third party.
• A business plan outlining the venture must be drafted.
• If the business venture is successful in terms of business turnover, employment of Australians, and has gained significant financial backing, the entrepreneur visa holder may qualify for permanent residency in four years.

Work visa options

Skilled migration visa
This type of visa is usually offered to skilled overseas workers whose skills are required in Australia.

Sponsored or nominated work visa
This visa is normally offered to individuals who have been sponsored to work in Australia by:
• Employers or businesses that have been approved by the Australian government
• A state or territory government agency or authority

Student visa (subclass 500)
The student (subclass 500) visa is for those who wish to study in Australia. This also includes students sponsored by the foreign affairs ministry and defense ministry.

Student Guardian visa (subclass 590)
This is usually for individuals who would like to go to Australia as a carer for a student who is under 18 years of age.

Training visa (subclass 407)
This is for individuals who intend to travel to Australia to attend training workshops.

Temporary Graduate visa (subclass 485)
This visa is for individuals who have completed their studies and wish to work temporarily in Australia.

Visiting and studying visa
Individuals who would like to visit Australia and study for a short term are eligible for this visa.

Post study work visa
This visa is for people who have completed their studies in Australia and would like to temporarily work in Australia.

Family visas
Permanent residents, Australian citizens, and eligible New Zealand residents are allowed to sponsor their families to live in Australia on a family visa. These visas include:

Partner visa
This is for a spouse, Fiancé, or de facto partner (including same sex marriages) of a Permanent resident, Australian citizen, and eligible New Zealand resident.

Parent visa
Individuals who wish to go to Australia on a parent visa should meet the following requirements:
• Have a child who is a permanent resident of Australia, a citizen of Australia, or an eligible New Zealand citizen.
• Have a child who has been living in Australia for at least 2 months.
• Have met the balance of family criteria as well as health and character requirements.

Family Members
This visa is usually for relatives who wish to visit a family member in Australia. These visas are usually queued and take a long time to be approved.

The requirements for a relative visa are:
One must be related to an Australian citizen, a permanent resident of Australia or an eligible New Zealand citizen. However, it is important to know that not that not all relatives can be awarded a relative visa.

Returning Resident Visa option

This visa option is for former permanent residents of Australia, former Australian residents, and former members of the Australian Defense forces as defined in the Migration regulation 2007.

Career Visa option

This type of visa is for relatives of Australian citizens, living outside Australia, but who would like to travel to Australia for treatment.


Find A Job

[back to top]

Australia does have an equivalent to the UK’s Job Centre, although their service is online. This is known as JobSearch and it is the largest job hunting website of its kind in the country. It is a free site, so neither employers nor job seekers need to pay to use it. Employers can list their vacancies and those who are job hunting can upload their CV. There is a regional search facility on the homepage so that you can search vacancies in the area that you are in. You need to register to use the services but you will be able to search jobs listed by the Australian civil service, job listings from regional newspapers and private employers. The site is aimed at Australian residents and covers a wide variety of industries.

When you apply for a job in Australia you should be prepared to answer direct questions. It is common to be interviewed by a panel of people rather than just one person and they are usually more interested in what you want to achieve in your future than the things you have already done. The CV is referred to as a resume in Australia and should not be more than 3 pages long. You are not obliged to send a photograph with the resume and it should be clearly written for the specific vacancy that you are applying for. Applications should be sent with a covering letter which should be specific and to the point. Candidates that ask questions at interviews are welcomed and if you do not make the effort to do a little research before you go into the interview it will soon be found out.

Many companies expect candidates to undergo a test before they are selected for interviews. Candidates that criticise former employers are frowned upon. Punctuality is essential, so it is important not to be late for the interview and to dress smartly.

The authorities have very strict procedures for dealing with illegal workers. Those who are in violation of their visas will be prosecuted, have their visas cancelled and will be deported from the country. There have been problems with illegal workers in the agriculture sector. The government has a number of initiatives to promote awareness of the issues surrounding illegal workers including training initiatives and work with the unions. Employers who have illegal workers on their staff are breaking the law and can be prosecuted. This includes employment agencies and anyone who refers an illegal worker for employment. Large fines and prison sentences are often given out to those who hire illegal workers.

There are many options for temporary workers who are perhaps on short term visas. Seasonal work in the agriculture industry is popular and in tourist areas there is usually plenty of bar work, restaurant work and seasonal work in hotels. There are hundreds of recruitment agencies in Australia and these vary in the type of work that they recruit for and the areas that they cover. Using a search facility online such as www.acpeople.com.au will allow you to search large numbers of agencies at the same time for the type of vacancies that you are looking for and link you to individual agencies. Most agencies allow you to register your resume online and will contact you if suitable positions are advertised.

The unemployment rate across Australia has fallen (January 2011) to one of its lowest levels in some years. The rate was just 5% unemployment and large numbers of jobs have been created in the country and the majority of the most recently created positions are full-time. This rate is half the current rate in the US and only 2/3 of the rate in the UK. There are some regional variations although these are not wildly different from that of the national rate.

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry is the equivalent of the British Chamber of Commerce. It links regional branches in the states and territories and connects a number of different business groups that are for both small and large businesses. The organisation works closely with the government on business policies. In addition there are many networking events and conferences organised for those who are members, encouraging new business and making contacts.


Rent Property

[back to top]

The complexities of an overseas move to a country as far away as Australia can be daunting. Finding a place to call home in a new suburb or city is not only important but also challenging. Locating the right rental property in major cities such as Sydney and Melbourne is usually very difficult. However, there are a few tips and guidelines that can make finding a new home in Australia easier.

Step 1: Learn the local lingo

Understanding the local lingo used by agents to describe humble homes and magnificent mansions is really important. Common terms such as “flats” are used to describe apartments. The term “house” is used to refer to large houses with outdoor spaces. Hence, a two bedroom flat is likely to cost far less than a two-bedroom house. Flats with one room are called “studio flats” and the term “unit” is used to describe large flats that are split but built in blocks.

Step 2: Location

Expats should identify which areas they would like to live in. You may opt to get the feel of an area by strolling around various neighborhoods. In addition, call estate agents and browse property websites to get a good idea of the housing prices in various neighborhoods. As an expat, you should repeat this process a few more times since there are plenty of suburbs in each city and you should seek to identify the one that best suits you.

Identify the means of commuting from work to home or school. This will also give you a better idea of the time it takes to get from one point to another as well as proximity of your neighborhood to various social amenities. This information may also be available on various real estate websites.

Step 3: Start searching

Using technology is one of the best ways to house hunt. Start looking for homes that are within your budget by browsing property search websites. Also, check newspaper listings for rental properties. Although real estate agents manage rental properties, some may provide little or no help to potential tenants. Some simply provide a list of the properties they manage and a map. Therefore, be sure to work with an agent who provides valuable information and knows the neighborhoods he operates in well.

Step 4: Dealing with agents

Once you have located a suitable rental property, arrange a viewing. Contact the person managing the property or find out the agent’s name if it is an agency. Once you have found the relevant contact information, contact the agent directly and start the application process. It is important to keep in close contact with the agent because the rental property market in Australia is quite competitive. It is also important to visit an open house and be prepared with the necessary paperwork so that you can submit the application early.

Step 5: Putting in an application for a property

Expats should ensure that they include the correct information when submitting an application because real estate agents often take more than one application and this can be the deciding factor. You may lose out on a property to someone who was more prepared even though they submitted their application later.

Typical applications require:
• Previous rental agreements
• Proof of income (these include bank statements for the last three months)
• Proof of identity (passport/birth certificate/drivers’ license)

In some cases, you may be asked to make a down payment before renting the property. This is often refunded if the applicant fails to get the property. The references section of a rental property application is very important. It should include the applicant’s current employer and details of the previous landlord, if any. Once the estate agent receives all the required documentation, they will forward them to the property owner.

Step 6: Signing the lease and moving in

There is no standard for how much rent has to be paid in advance in Australia. However, a bond that ranges between a month’s and six weeks’ rent is to be paid by the new tenant when they come to sign the lease and pay the first month’s rent.

Potential tenants should thoroughly inspect the properties they want to move into for structural damages. Be sure to let the estate agent know about any damage before moving in. In addition, you should receive an inventory of all items in a furnished apartment. Remember to ask the agent if there are accounts set up with any utility providers to save on connection fees.

Cheaper rental properties are located far from large cities, towns, and facilities. In general, rural areas have cheaper rates for rental properties than urban areas. Sydney, Melbourne, and Darwin have the highest rates for rental properties.

The following are weekly rents for unfurnished properties in larger cities:
• A studio/bedsit usually goes for about $250 – $350
• A 1-bedroom apartment usually goes for about $350-450
• A 2-bedroom apartment usually goes for about $500-$600
• A 3-bedroom apartment t usually goes for about $700-$1000
• A 2-bedroom house goes for about $500 – $750
• A 3-bedroom house usually goes for about $800 – $1200

The difference between short-term and long-term leases

Long-term leases typically last for five years or longer. On the other hand, short-term leases are binding for a period of five years or less.

Furnished Apartments

As the name suggests, furnished apartments come with furniture. The type of furniture in a furnished apartment usually varies. Some furnished apartments may have a couch, a dining table, a refrigerator, washer, dryer, and other home comforts, while others may only have a couch and a dining room set. Some may have everything needed in an apartment. The types of furnishings are usually listed in the advertisement.

Unfurnished Apartments

These are apartments that do not have any furniture. Some may have some appliances like washers and dryers and refrigerators but not furniture. This information is also contained in the ad.


Buy Property

[back to top]

Many people liken buying property to ticking boxes and filling out forms. Buying property in Australia is considered a significant investment that comes with a fair share of red tape. Therefore, expats who look forward to becoming homeowners in Australia must be ready to take on a completely new set of rules and regulations. Although the process varies from territory to territory, some general steps apply on a national level.

Step 1: Determine the budget and arrange for mortgage pre-approval

Expats with permanent residence status in Australia qualify for a First Home Owner’s Grant. Eligible applicants are entitled to a one off grant of AUD $7,000 to put toward the purchase of their first homes. Although this is a good amount to add to one’s home purchase coffer, it is not easy or affordable for an expat to afford to buy property upfront. However, there should be no cause for alarm because most people living in Australia use mortgages to purchase properties.

Getting a mortgage in Australia

Various factors determine an expat’s eligibility for a loan. However, many lending institutions consider expats’ visa status and credit rating when determining applicants’ eligibility for mortgages.

You may need to apply to the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) for permission to buy real estate. Their decisions however are based on an individual’s financial situation. The lender and financial climate influences the amount of money that may be given in a mortgage. Many lenders will only lend up to 80% of the property value to a temporary resident. On the other hand, expats with working and spousal visas as well as permanent residents may borrow between 90 and 95 percent of the property value they intend to purchase. Expats who want to borrow more can apply for financing from specialist mortgage brokers.

Ultimately, the income of the loan applicant determines the total amount that will be granted as mortgage. It is relatively easier to qualify for a mortgage if you have good credit ratings and significant income to repay the mortgage. There are no higher charges or special interest rates for expats. They may even qualify for better interest rates if they agree to make higher monthly payments.

Step 2: Choose a location

It is important to look for real estate property in the city you intend to reside. In addition, research trends in housing prices before considering buying property. Consider renting first while familiarizing yourself with the property market.

Step 3: Find a dream home

This is a time consuming procedure that should preferably be undertaken during the house-hunting phase. One of the easiest ways to conduct this search is by using online property websites, which allow you to look at listed properties with multiple estate agents. You can even use filters to narrow your search. You might also want to keep records of homes for sale and properties that have already been sold to get a better idea of market trends.

Step 4: Buy

The formal purchasing of property usually involves mediation through an estate agent managing the property. The buyer should approach the agent with a price and the latter will act as an intermediary between the buyer and the seller. It is advisable to research property prices before approaching an estate agent with your offer.

The legal sales documents will be drawn up once a price has been negotiated.The process differs from state to state. It is important for expats to have a real estate attorney to guide them through the property purchase process. In addition, avoid signing unconditional or exchange contracts before having your financing fully approved because it will become difficult to back out of the contract.

For your consideration

You may be required to pay stamp duty on the purchase price of the property you purchase. However, first time buyers may be exempted from paying this fee in some territories. Lender application fee, lender mortgage insurance, mortgage registration fee(for government), land transfer fee, legal fee charge by solicitor, and cost of conveyancing and checks on structure and pest situation are some of the additional fees you are likely to incur. In addition, consider buying home insurance once you have purchased the property.

Real Estate Agents Licensing Requirements

Becoming a licensed real estate agent in Australia requires years of training and in-depth knowledge of market trends. The education and licensing requirements usually vary from one territory to another. An estimated 5.6 million people from over 150 countries worldwide have bought property in Australia since 1945.

Deeds and property registration

Registration of properties in all states and territories is based on the Torrens principle of title registration. The title of the land is the official record and each state or territory has a central register of all land showing the owners. Additional information about deeds and property registration can be found on the Australian government’s website.

The Top 10 Mistakes to Avoid When Buying Property

1. Lack of research
Research the property market in Australia to understand market trends and property values. This will also help you get the best price during the negotiation phase.

2. Thinking Selling Agents are there to help you, the ’buyer’
Real estate agents work for the seller and not for you. Some of the questions you need to ask a real estate agent include:

* How did you come to the asking price?
* Are there any recent sales in the street or surrounding streets that can compare to this home? If yes,urge the agent to provide evidence.
* What offers have been made so far on the property?
* How long has the property been on the market?

These questions will help you gather important information that can help you establish the value of properties on the market and price flexibility.

3. Searching without finance approval
You should first be certain of the amount of money you can borrow before you begin your house hunting.

4. Overstretching your finances

The two rules to follow to ensure you do not find yourself in this situation are:
1. Make sure your monthly repayments do not exceed 25% of your total household income.
2. Do not borrow more than 80% of the property value to avoid paying mortgage insurance.

5. Ignoring inspections
Many people do not seek appropriate inspections before buying property in Australia. Avoid buying properties with excessive structural damage.

6. Not factoring in running costs
Do not rush into making offers on properties before determining whether you can afford the running costs such as council rates, water rates, and land tax.

7. Being influenced by rental guarantees
A good property does not require rental guarantee.

8. Buying property sight unseen
This is a recipe for disaster. Virtual tours on the Internet may not provide the details you need. You have to conduct a site inspection to ensure that you end up with the property you want.


Register For Healthcare

[back to top]

QUICK LINK: Australia health insurance

The complexity of Australia’s health system can be described as a web of service providers, recipients, and organizational structures. This is to be expected in any system of such magnitude and cost. An estimated $140.2 billion was spent on health services between 2011 and 2012, which was approximately 9.5% of the GDP. This shows that the health expenditure is growing at a faster rate than the population growth. This was attributed to societal changes such as an increase in chronic conditions and an aging population. Spending on health has also been affected by personal income, broader economic trends, and new technologies. This is also an indication of the intertwined relationship between health and society.

Who are the users of the Australian health system?

Australian citizens, overseas visitors on a temporary and permanent visa and asylum seekers are the main users of the Australian health system. In 1984, the universal public health insurance scheme Medicare was set up by the government to provide subsidized professional health treatment. It was made up of three essential parts namely: hospital, medical, and pharmaceuticals.

Patients in public hospitals are to receive free treatment. The fees for professional health services on the Medicare benefits list are covered by the scheme as well as subsidization of prescription medicine.

It is possible to combine Medicare and private insurance. However, one may choose to have Medicare cover only. Medicare covers the cost of the entire treatment as well as the accommodation for patients who visit public hospitals.

In private hospitals, Medicare covers 75% of the service expenses and procedures excluding accommodation, theatre fees, and medication. The scheduled fees covered by the Medicare scheme are set by the government in consultation with medical professional bodies.

Some of the medical services that are not covered by Medicare include:
• Ambulance services
• Most dental examinations and treatment
• Prescription lenses, glasses, hearing aids or any other appliances
• Psychiatric services, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, eye therapy, speech therapy or any other type of therapy
• Home nursing

The following are some of the countries with whom the Australian Government has signed a Reciprocal Health Care Agreements (RHCA):
• Sweden
• UK
• New Zealand
• Norway
• Finland
• Republic of Ireland
• Belgium
• Malta
• The Netherlands
• Italy
• Slovenia

Nationals of the Netherlands, Belgium, and Slovenia are required to carry their European national health card to access Medicare. Maltese and Italians are covered for a period of six months from the date of arrival. Individuals who received a subclass 410 visa before December 1 1998 or a retiree’s visa are eligible for Medicare under the RCHA of their home country.

All students with an Australian visa are covered under Medicare and are entitled to free inpatient and outpatient treatment in all public hospitals. They also receive all medication under the Pharmaceutical benefits scheme at a subsidized cost.

Individuals can also choose to receive treatment outside of the hospital. This is through private doctors’ practices as well as community health centers. Some of the ways these doctors can charge for their services includes the following.

They may opt to bill Medicare directly by having the patient sign a completed bulk bill form. The doctor may give the patient a bill prior to the consultation. The patient may choose to pay the bill or submit the unpaid bill to Medicare.

Legislation regarding smoking

More than 12.8% of the people in Australia aged 14 and above smoked on a daily basis in 2013. This was a decline from 2010’s statistics, which showed 15.1% of the population used to smoke daily. A quarter of the population is made up of ex-smokers and this has remained constant since 1998. These numbers indicate that the number of daily smokers has dropped by half since 1991. The number of people who have never smoked tobacco has also increased significantly.

The male and female population of smokers dropped significantly in 2010 and 2012. The number of female smokers was lower than that of their male counterparts as observed in previous years. There were more smokers among the older age group compared to those of younger age groups. Males aged 40-49 and females aged 20-29 were more likely to smoke daily.

As of January 2013, smoking is banned in the following public places:
• Individuals should not smoke within 10 meters of a children’s outdoor playground.
• Sports grounds, spectator areas, and other recreational areas are no smoking zones.
• Smoking at swimming pool complexes is illegal.
• Smoking at light rail stops, light rail stations, taxi ranks, bus stations, and ferry wharves is illegal.
• Smoking within four meters of a pedestrian access point to a building is illegal.
• Smoking in a vehicle with a child inside is illegal.
• Advertising of tobacco products in Commonwealth workplaces as well as airports, aircrafts, trains, and federally registered motor coaches is illegal.

There are various counselling services available for expats, including the following.

MenStuff
This counseling service provider is located along 54-56 Alexander Street, Crow’s Nest, New South Wales 2065. They offer support to men who seek to achieve their greatest potential in all aspects of their lives. To contact Menstuff call 0411 411 103.

Parramatta Couples Therapy
This practice is owned by the renowned psychotherapist Lidia Smirnov and is located in North Parramatta in Sydney’s CBD. She specializes in relationship and marriage counseling and works with a team of experienced relationship therapists at Clinton Power + Associates. Her address is 1 Gibbons Street, Telopea New South Wales 2117, you can also call her on 2117 040 921 223 or visit www.clintonpower.com.au.

Sydney Individuals and Couples Counseling
This counseling facility offers services to individuals, couples, and families. It is run by professional psychotherapists and counselors and is located in North Sydney and in Brookvale. The firm’s address is 13 Dale Street, Brookvale New South Wales 2100. You may contact them by phone 0422 306 679 or email liz@sydneyindividualsandcouplescounselling.com.


Open A Bank Account

[back to top]

There are many banks in Australia; both local and foreign. The banking sector in Australia is highly competitive. Banks in Australia come up with a wide range of services to gain a competitive advantage. A few local banks including the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA), National Australia Bank (NAB), Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ), and Westpac Banking Corporation have managed to beat the rest and dominate the financial market in the country.

Major local banks

Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA)
CBA is the largest bank in Australia. It also operates in the United Kingdom, USA, Asia, Fiji, and New Zealand. It provides many financial services for Australian citizens and immigrants. These services include personal, commercial, and institutional banking, insurance, investment, and retirement planning.
Within Australia: 13 2221
From overseas: +61 2 9999 3283

Westpac Banking Corporation
Westpac is the largest bank in Australia based on the number of branches and ATMs. It offers personal, business, and corporate banking as well as insurance and superannuation. In addition, it provides clients including expats with a travel money card, which can be loaded with up to 5 different currencies and used to shop both in Australia and overseas.
General enquiries: 13 2032
Online and Mobile Banking: 1300 655 505
Overseas: (+61 2) 9293 9270

Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ)
ANZ operates both within and outside Australia. It has been in existence for 180 years. It offers regular banking services such as retail, commercial, and institutional banking. It does not have unique products for expats, but it is known for great customer service. In addition, it provides clients with specific contact details for handling all kinds of customer queries on a 24-7 basis.
Within Australia: 13 13 14
Overseas: +61 3 9683 9999

US/UK Banks in Australia

Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC)
HSBC is one of the largest and oldest banks in the world. It is based in the UK. HSBC Bank plc operates in Australia as a subsidiary of HSBC Holdings. Despite offering regular financial services with no particular distinguishing product, the bank differentiates itself from the others by focusing on expatriates and immigrants.
To become a customer of HSBC call: +44 1534 616 055
HSBC Premier Customers: +44 1534 616 313
HSBC Advance customers: +44 1534 616 212
Customers are advised to have their 10-digit PBN and 6-digit PIN at hand before calling.
Foreign exchange specialists can be reached through the following number: +44 1534 616 162

Lloyds Bank
Lloyds bank is based in the UK. However, it has several branches outside the UK including in Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. The bank helps people moving from the UK to set up international accounts, enabling them to access their money easily. However, the bank’s Australian branch was acquired by Westpac Group on January 1, 2016.
For any enquiries regarding the Bank, please contact: (02) 8070 4000.
For any enquiries regarding Capital finance call: (02) 8884 8000.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch
The Bank of America has its headquarters in Charlotte, North Carolina. It has three branches in Australia. A good number of their clients in Australia are expats. It offers high quality customer service. Customers can contact the bank at any time and on any day.
Tel: +61.3.9659.2222

Barclays Capital
Barclays Capital is a division of the UK based multinational Barclays bank. Its main target customers are large companies, institutions, and governments. It mainly offers advisory, financing, and risk management services.
Tel: +61 2 9334 6000

Typical bank opening hours in Australia
Monday – Thursday: 9.30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Friday: 9.30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Types of bank accounts offered by Banks in Australia
• Transaction account
• Savings account
• Cheque account
• Credit account
• Credit debit account
• Student account

Opening a bank account in Australia

You can open a bank account through an online application or by visiting the bank in person. For online applications, the bank can set up the account before you travel to Australia and then you can go and collect your bank details in any of their branches once you arrive in the country. If you prefer to visit the bank to open an account, this should be done as soon as you get to Australia.

Credit and debit cards

Credit cards are accepted for most payments in Australia, in stores, restaurants, online, and over the phone. The most commonly accepted cards are Visa, MasterCard, and American Express.

Debit cards are used to pay for items through a system called EFTPOS. It is available at most stores and restaurants. You can also withdraw cash through EFTPOS at some stores (including supermarkets and gas stations).

How to Apply for an Overdraft

Many bank services are available through online and Internet banking. To apply for an overdraft, log in to your account, fill in an application form, and then follow up with the bank for a response. Alternatively, you can call or visit the bank for additional information about the application process.


Learn The Language

[back to top]

There is no official language in Australia. However, English is the most used language. Most Australians speak English as their first language. In addition, English is the de-facto language for doing business and is widely used in most workplaces. However, there are a good number of people who speak other languages too. There are about a million expats living in Australia who are unable to speak English.

Sydney, which is one of the multicultural cities in Australia, has the highest number of people who speak an alternative language. Melbourne and Sydney host about 65 percent of non-English-speaking expats who cumulatively make up some of the 240 different languages spoken in Australia. Many expats use their mother tongue on a daily basis and have a minimal grasp of English.

Incorporation of English into the Local Language

Australian English is somewhat similar to British English though it has a different vernacular known as Strine. This language is one of Australia’s creative products and it is full of word tweaking, abbreviations, profanities, hyperboles, and idiosyncratic expressions. The language traces its origin to Cockney and the Irish slang used by early convicts. Every region uses Strine words differently as the language has adopted many words from Aboriginal languages.

Most Australians are not sure whether to use British or American spelling and it is common for misspellings to occur in their writing. Some English words have different meanings in Australia compared to other English speaking countries. A few examples of such words include game (brave), knock (criticize), and tube (can of beer). Australian English is full of abbreviations. This is normally done by shortening any word with more than two syllables then adding either an “ie” or “o” at the end. For example, a refugee will be referred to as a reffo and a truck driver a truckie.

Regional Variations and Dialects

The Australian accent has variations in every region though the difference can be minimal making it difficult for foreigners to detect. The accents of people living in isolated communities in the Australian outback are more varied and distinct compared to the accents of urban communities. Most Australians have a broad nasal twang. Expletives are commonly used and most of them are a symbol of affection or familiarity. Words like ‘bloody’ are used every day and not considered a swear word. Aussies are known for saying things as they are. They can sometimes make playful comparisons for purposes of emphasis. For example, someone might say “as straight as a dog’s hind leg,” to mean something is bent.

There are many books that have been written on the Australian vernacular speech such as phrase books and dictionaries. These publications are used to help others understand the slang used in Australia. The Australian aboriginal society dates back 60,000 years and has the longest cultural history in the world. In 1788, when the first fleet of European explorers arrived, there were about 250 Australian languages all believed to have evolved from one language that had about 700 dialects. Out of the 250 languages only 20 are in use today and are commonly spoken and taught in learning institutions.

Other Languages

Australian Creole is one of the most commonly spoken and taught languages in Northern Australia. It has many English words though the meanings are different and the spelling is phonetic. During the European settlement, many extra languages with over 500 dialects were introduced. Most indigenous languages were lost and while most of the speakers died, others reverted to learning to speak any of the other existing indigenous languages including Creole and English. A Creole is a language that develops from the primary language of a community. Australian Creole is a mix of indigenous languages and English. More than 100 indigenous Australian languages, including Creole, are spoken in Australia. Research indicates that Mandarin and Punjabi have also become popular languages in Australia. The popularity of a language is determined by the number of people speaking the language.

There are also the Tasmanian languages whose origins can be traced to Tasmania Island. The original Tasmanians had about six languages. The last record of the Tasmanian languages being used in communication dates back to 1830. The Tasmanians began using English as their official language in 1905.

Language Training Centers

LSI - Brisbane
This school teaches English language from intensive courses to exam preparation classes. They also have a class for senior citizens.
Email: info@lsi.edu
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7443 9873

Australian English Language Center
The Australian English Language Center has a small class size that allows every student to get individual attention from the teachers. The tutors in this school determine the needs of each student before they enroll them in English language classes. A deposit of AUD $60 may be required for books and study materials. This deposit is usually refunded once the study is complete.
Address: 641 Wellington Street,
Perth,
6000
Email: info@acae.edu.au
Phone: 08 9322 3202

Access Language Center
The Access Language center, located in Mary Street Surry Hills, Sydney, offers full time and part time English courses at beginner, intermediate, and advanced level. Their flexible plan allows students to start classes on any given Monday.
Address: Level 2, 72 Mary Street
Surry Hills, Sydney NSW
2010 Australia
Phone: +61 (2) 9281-6455
Fax: +61 (2) 9281-7455

Use of Subtitles in Broadcasting

All public TV networks in Australia feature captions on programs aired between 6pm and 10:30 pm. In addition, programs that are now being broadcast on a digital channel, but were previously broadcast on an analog channel, are required to have captions. If a program was broadcast on a network’s primary channel with captions, the other Free TV networks are not obligated to broadcast it with captions regardless of the time it is aired.


Choose A School

[back to top]

The education system in Australia constitutes different tiers of learning institutions including preschool, preparatory, primary school, secondary school, and tertiary learning institutions.

Preparatory to college lasts 13 years. It is compulsory for people below the age of 16 years to attend school. There are three main types of schools in Australia: government, private, and faith-based schools. All of them must be registered with the state or territory education department and their infrastructure and teacher registration should meet government requirements.

Australia’s education standards are world-renowned and many expats migrate to its sunny shores to study. The national government emphasizes quality, diversity, and commitment to excellence in research, teaching, and student support.

The government encourages parents to enroll their kids for 1 year in preschool before they proceed to primary school. Primary school comprises kindergarten to year 6, which include kids between 5 and 12 years old. High school includes young people between the ages of 12 to 18.

Public schools in Australia

About two thirds of the local population and a good number of children whose parents are expats attend public schools. Although the country has a national curriculum, each state is responsible for managing and implementing education in their respective areas.

Some schools require parents to pay additional fees to cover school uniforms and stationery. Expat families are required by most schools to provide proof of residence before their children can be actively enrolled in Australian learning institutions.

Private schools in Australia

Many people believe that private schools in Australia have a wider range of facilities, higher paid teachers, and better education standards than their state counterparts. Many expats prefer to take their children to private schools because many of them offer International Baccalaureate curricula. However, the prestige and reputation associated with private schools comes at a price.

Most popular private schools in Australia may have long waiting lists and some may require students to pass an exam prior to enrolment. There are various international schools for expats who would like their children to continue with their home country’s curriculum.

Faith-based schools in Australia

Although these institutions are run according to a religious order, they also place strong emphasis on academics. Most faith-based schools in Australia are Catholic-oriented. These schools see the need to instill a sense of religious beliefs and values in students. Religious practice and teachings incorporated into the curriculum vary from school to school. Students in these institutions are required to pay tuition. However, the fees of faith-based schools in Australia are lower than those of private schools.

How to Enroll

The law requires all children of compulsory school age to be enrolled in school and they must attend every day. In Western Australia, compulsory schooling starts in pre-primary though children can start their education in kindergarten.

All children below the age of 16 must attend school. Older children above the age of 16 must be enrolled in school or a training organization, be employed, or be in a combination of school, training, and employment.

You should visit your local school as soon as possible if you wish to enroll your child in a public school. To enroll your child at a school in Australia you must apply to the school itself. The school may require academic credentials from your child’s previous school and proof that you legally live in the country. You will also be required to provide information on vaccinations that have been given to the child. Education at a state school is free for expats living in Australia.

Documentation to Provide

Temporary residents can negotiate with their employers to provide school allowance or pay tuition for their kids.

There are a total of 40 weeks in a school year. In addition, four school terms make up an academic year in Australia. Holidays in between terms last 2 weeks while summer holidays last 6 weeks. Children should attend for school for 190 days each year, which adds up to 380 sessions. This applies to primary, secondary, and special schools.

Pupil free day

This is usually organized by public schools where all government school staff members are required to go for training and development. Students are not required to attend school during public holidays.

Extracurricular Activities

A wide range of extra-curricular activities including sports, drama, and creative arts are offered by all schools. Most schools take part in local leagues with other schools in their area and all children are encouraged to take part in these events.

Specialized courses and programs

These programs are focused on specific interests or talents. Enrolment into such programs is usually coordinated by the specific school sponsoring the program, which may involve sitting for an exam or auditioning.

Higher education options

The main types of postgraduate certifications offered by most higher education institutions include the following.

Graduate certificate/diploma
Requirements include six months to a year of full-time study for the graduate certificate and one to two years of full-time study for a graduate diploma.

Master’s degree
Masters’ degrees specialize in a specific field of study or area of professional practice.

Doctoral degree
This type of certification is offered to individuals who make a considerable original contribution in a specific field in the form of either new knowledge or adaptation, application, and interpretation of existing knowledge. Doctoral degrees may take three to four years to complete. There are two types of doctoral degrees: A research doctorate (PhD) involves supervised research resulting in the completion of a thesis, and requires a master’s degree by research or a bachelor degree. A professional doctorate combines coursework and research and is suitable for professionals who want to advance their knowledge in their field without the research commitment of a PhD. Entry requirements include a master’s degree by research or a bachelor’s degree. Considerable professional experience is required either before or during the course.

Learning institutions in Australia have varying entry requirements. Therefore, it is important to contact individual learning institutions to confirm entry requirements. In addition, starting dates vary depending on the course. Higher education courses usually run from late February to mid-November.



Expat Health Insurance Partners


Cigna Global

Cigna has worked in international health insurance for more than 30 years. Today, Cigna has over 71 million customer relationships around the world. Looking after them is an international workforce of 31,000 people, plus a network of over 1 million hospitals, physicians, clinics and health and wellness specialists worldwide, meaning you have easy access to treatment.