Living in Australia
Moving to Australia means running towards opportunities: Australia is a new country where the population, the economy, and the opportunities are growing quickly. Many say that Australia today is like the USA 50 years ago…just full of enthusiasm and opportunity.
Once you have confirmed where you will be studying, you can look for accommodation that suits your needs and budget. Some tips when searching for accommodation include:
Short-term accommodation options you might want to consider when you first arrive in Australia include:
You can rent or ‘lease’ a property by yourself or with friends. This can be done through a real estate agent or privately. When renting a property, you will need to pay a security deposit or ‘bond’ (which is usually four weeks rent), as well as rent in advance (also usually four weeks). The bond is held to repair any damage that you, your house mates or house guests cause to the property while renting. Some, or all, of this amount may be refunded to you once your tenancy agreement has terminated.
For more information on your rights and obligations when renting in Australia you should visit the relevant government Fair Trading agency in your state/territory.
You have certain responsibilities to meet when it comes to paying accommodation expenses on time, cleaning and maintenance. You also have the right by law to feel secure in your property, maintained with working facilities. If there are any problems with your accommodation, talk to your agent or landlord (if renting), your international student support staff for on-campus living or the service where you found your homestay.
There are also organizations such as tenant’s unions and consumer advocates that can provide assistance. To find out more visit the relevant government Fair Trading agency in your state/territory
Support services for students
There are many consumer protection and support services available for international students. This includes services provided directly by institutions as well as those provided by a range of state, territory and federal government departments.
Australian has a strong consumer protection framework to protect the rights of Australian consumers, including international students in Australia. The Australian Consumer Law includes a national law guaranteeing consumer rights when buying goods and services. You should contact the relevant government trade and consumer agency in your state or territory, if you:
Overseas Students Ombudsman
The Overseas Students Ombudsman (OSO) investigates complaints about problems that overseas students have with private education and training institutions in Australia. The Ombudsman’s services are free, independent and impartial. You can find out more about this service on their website: www.oso.gov.au. The OSO also produces an email newsletter for international students. You can subscribe to the newsletter on the OSO website.
If you are studying at a public institution, such as TAFE colleges and many universities and schools, you should contact the Ombudsman in the state or territory in which you are studying to lodge a complaint. You can find details of what the Ombudsman can investigate on their website.
Tuition Protection Service
The Tuition Protection Service (TPS) is an initiative of the Australian Government to assist you if your institution (referred to as ‘Education Provider’ under the TPS) is unable to fully deliver your course of study. The TPS may also assist you if you have withdrawn from, or not started, your course and are eligible for a refund of tuition fees and the institution has not paid them.
The TPS will make ensure that you are able to either:
Under the Tuition Protection Service international students have a number of rights and obligations. For more information visit the Tuition Protection Service website.
Institution support services
Student support forms a large part of Australia’s education system. Institutions provide specialist services to help international students adjust to life and study in Australia, and to achieve their goals. This includes student services such as:
Many Australian education institutions are like mini communities, so not only will you be able to undertake your studies amid world-class learning facilities, you will also be able to enjoy the social side of studying as well. You can join a club or society, improve your health and fitness in the gym, join a sports team, attend a social event, or volunteer for community service. To find out full details of what your institution provides please check their website directly.
Australia has a number of student associations representing and assisting students from Australian institutions. National associations include:
Most institutions in Australia also have their own student associations – you can visit your institution’s website for more information.
Australia has laws that protect individuals from discrimination in many areas of public life, including education. A person with a disability has just as much right to study as any other student. This means that institutions cannot:
Many institutions offer services for students who require assistance with their studies because of a disability or chronic medical condition. These may include voice-recognition software, hearing aids or note-taking services. You should contact your institution several weeks before you arrive to make the appropriate arrangements for your specific needs.
Institutions must make every effort to accommodate a student with a disability. However, the institution is not legally required to make modifications if the changes involve major difficulties or unreasonable cost. The institution has to prove the changes are unjustified and, before making such a claim, must have direct discussions with the student and seek expert advice.
If you are experiencing a problem with your institution, you should first talk to staff at your institution. If informal discussions do not resolve the problem, you have the option of lodging a formal complaint. Institutions are required to have a process for students to register complaints. If you feel you have a legitimate complaint that is not being recognised by your institution, you should approach the Australian Human Rights Commission. Confidential enquiries can be made by telephone but a formal complaint must be lodged in writing before the commission can take action. Find out more about disability rights in Australia at the Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission.
While many larger institutions have childcare facilities with trained staff, there are also a wide variety of private and not-for-profit childcare centres available around Australia. The Australian government provides financial assistance to help parents with childcare costs. International students who receive direct financial assistance from the government, through a government scholarship, may be eligible to receive the child care benefit. To find out if you are eligible for child care financial assistance, read more at the Australia.gov.au website.
Other support services
Some other support services that may be useful to know while you are studying in Australia are:
Local police – non urgent matters
Poison Information Centre
Sexual Assault counseling service
Work while you study
Working while you study in Australia can help complement your study and living experience. There are a number of reasons you might want to undertake part time work while studying in Australia, including assisting with living expenses and gaining work experience in your study area.
Most student visas allow you to work for up to 40 hours every two weeks while your course is in session, and unrestricted hours during any scheduled course break, but before you undertake any paid work you need to make sure your visa allows you to work. Find out more at the Department of Immigration and Border Protection website.
Australia has a wide range of industries and many have part time employment opportunities, including:
If you have existing qualifications and/or professional work experience, you may be able to secure casual or part time work in your field.
Paid or unpaid internships can be a great way to get exposure to the professional, financial and creative industries. Learn more about getting an internship on the Internships page in the Education System section of this website.
There are many charities and non-government organizations (NGOs) in Australia and they always need volunteers to help out. It can be a great way to meet friends, get some hands on work experience and give back to the community. To find out more about volunteering, start your search at: www.govolunteer.com.au
Everyone working in Australia, including international students or those on working holiday visas, have basic rights at work. These rights protect entitlement to:
Most employers in Australia are covered by an ‘award’, which sets minimum wages and conditions for a given field of work or industry. To find out more about your work rights visit the Australian Government’s Fair Work website.
You will also need to get a tax file number to work in Australia. Visit the Australian Taxation Office website to find out more information on getting a tax file number, as well as information about paying taxes in Australia.
There are plenty of ways to find work that suits you, including:
Living costs in Australia
Knowing the average living costs in Australia is an important part of your financial preparation. For your reference, here are some of the costs associated with living and studying in Australia. (All costs are in Australian dollars.)
Other living expenses
Minimum cost of living
The Department of Home Affairs has financial requirements you must meet in order to receive a student visa for Australia. From 1 February 2018, the 12 month living cost is:
All costs are per year in Australian dollars. To convert to your own currency, visit http://www.xe.com
The Australian Government provides information and guidance on managing your finances. You can read more at www.moneysmart.gov.au
If you experience financial trouble while in Australia, talk to your institution’s international student support staff for assistance.
While Australia is generally a safe place to live and study, it is still important that you take precautions to reduce the chance of an incident occurring.
When you are out with friends or by yourself, here are some simple things to consider:
Public transport is reliable and widely used in Australia, particularly in metro and urban areas. A number of security measures have been implemented to maximize the safety of public transport users including security officers and guards, help points, good lighting and security cameras. However you should still use caution when travelling on public transport:
Some tips when using taxis in Australia: