Living in Australia

[Provided by Australian Government www.studyinaustralia.gov.au]

Accommodation

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

Short-term accommodation options you might want to consider when you first arrive in Australia include:

Rental

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.

Legal protection

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.

Consumer Protection

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:

Visit www.australia.gov.au or www.consumerlaw.gov.au to find the relevant government agency for where you are living and studying.

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.

Student associations

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.

Disability support

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.

Childcare

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:

Emergency matters

Local police – non urgent matters

Lifeline

Kids Helpline

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.

Paid work

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.

Internships

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.

Volunteering

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

Your rights

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.

Finding Work

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.)

Accommodation

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.

Personal safety

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.

Going out

When you are out with friends or by yourself, here are some simple things to consider:

Public transport

Public transport is reliable and widely used in Australia, particularly in metro and urban areas. A number of security measures have been implemented to maximise 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:

Taxis

Some tips when using taxis in Australia:

On campus

When you are at your institution during the day or night, here are some tips to help keep you safe:

Using the internet

When using internet, like anywhere in the world, you should protect yourself against spam, online scams like ‘phishing’, online bullying and identity theft. You can find more information about protecting yourself online at Australia.gov.au.Many Australian internet service providers also offer guidance so check their website as well.

Home safety

Safety at home is important, no matter where you live. Here are some tips to help keep you and your home safe.

Sun and water safety

The Australian sun can be very hot and may be stronger than what you are used to in your home country.

There are some steps you can take to protect your skin:

Australia has many beautiful beaches and waterways, but it is important to take care when swimming. Here are some tips for staying safe in the water:

For more information on water safety visit the Surf Life Saving website.

Fire safety

Fire awareness is essential in Australia, even in city and urban areas.

If you experience a fire emergency, follow these steps:

  1. 1. Call 000 from any phone or mobile – it is a free call even from a mobile phone.
  2. 2. Say the word “fire” to the operator.
  3. 3. Don’t speak English? Just tell the operator your language and wait for instructions.
  4. 4. Answer the questions the operator asks.

Tips for fire prevention

What to do if there’s a fire

In case there’s a fire at home, plan a way to get out in advance. Don’t block doorways or windows, and make sure you can open your windows – they can get stuck in older buildings. Have a specific place for keys and your phone, so if you have to leave in a hurry you know exactly where they are and can call emergency services.

If you are out in the bush when there is a fire, pay attention to media reports on television, radio and the internet, which will tell you if or when you should evacuate the area.

Insurance

As an international student in Australia, you are required to have Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) for the entire duration of your study in Australia. But there are also other types of insurance which you may find useful.

Overseas Student Health Cover

International students undertaking formal studies in Australia, and their dependents (for example, spouses and children under 18 years old), must obtain OSHC. It includes cover for visits to the doctor, some hospital treatment, ambulance cover and limited pharmaceuticals (medicines). OSHC insurers can provide a range of different OSHC products. These may range from a basic product which covers only the compulsory minimum services to comprehensive products which cover, in addition to the compulsory minimum services, extra services as specified under the particular policy. You can find more information, including a list of the providers and average costs, on the Department of Health website.

Remember, the Department of Immigration and Citizenship requires overseas students to maintain OSHC for the duration of time they are in Australia. For further information please visit the Department of Immigration and Border Protection website.

Private health insurance

Along with your OSHC you might want to consider purchasing private health insurance to cover items that your OSHC does not cover. You can take out private health insurance to cover just you or your family as well. Benefits, membership costs and eligibility can vary greatly between funds and insurance policies, so when buying health insurance take care to ensure the cover you select is suitable for your needs. You can find more information at: www.privatehealth.gov.au

Travel insurance

Australia has a very reliable travel industry, but cancelled flights, lost luggage or other un-planned issues can arise. If you are travelling with valuables or are on a travel schedule you have to meet, travel insurance can help cover any mishaps or missed flights. You can arrange travel insurance through a range of providers including travel insurance companies, airlines and travel booking companies.

Home and contents insurance

Home and contents insurance covers the building you live in and your belongings, such as furniture, clothes and appliances. If you rent a property, building insurance is the responsibility of the owner and you do not need to worry about it. But contents insurance is worth considering if you have valuable items you couldn’t afford to replace very easily if something happened to them.

Vehicle insurance

If you purchase a car, motorbike or other vehicle you will need to consider what type of insurance you will need to purchase. Depending on what state or territory of Australia you live in, there may be compulsory insurance you need to purchase.  For example, in NSW you must purchase Compulsory Third Party insurance which covers you for personal injuries caused to someone else in an accident. You should check with the relevant government agency in your state or territory to find out what, if any, compulsory insurance you might need.

You can also choose to purchase vehicle insurance that covers your car for accidental damage, malicious damage, theft, fire, flood or storm. There are a wide range of providers in Australia that offer vehicle insurance so make sure you research your options and consider what your specific insurance needs are before you purchase vehicle insurance.

Banking

Australia has a range of choices when it comes to managing your money, from banks that cover the whole country to local credit unions and building societies.  Here are some quick tips on setting up your bank accounts.

Australian currency

The basic unit of Australian currency is the dollar (AUD). There are 100 cents in one dollar ($1).  Australian dollar notes come in denominations of $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100. Coins are issued in denominations of 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c, $1 and $2.

Prices are rounded up or down to the nearest 5 cents in shops and supermarkets. For example, you would pay $1.95 for an item priced $1.97, but $2 for an item priced $1.99.

Accessing your money

You can withdraw your money at automatic teller machines (ATMs) which can be found all over Australia. It is generally free to withdraw money from an ATM that is associated with your financial provider.  Be aware that if you use another provider’s ATM they will usually charge you a fee. The ATM will advise you of the fee at the point of withdrawal.

Even if you haven’t set up a bank account before you get here, most ATMs recognise international cards, so you will be able to use your credit or debit card from your home country. Just remember that there are fees associated with withdrawing money from your home account including transaction fees and the currency exchange rate. These vary by provider so check with your home financial provider before you arrive in Australia.

Moving money overseas or to Australia

Australian banks offer various services for moving money to and from Australia. For all these services, fees and charges will apply. These can be found on financial provider websites.

You can have funds electronically transferred into your Australian bank account from overseas banks. To send money to another country you will need to provide the banking details of the person you wish to send money to. Your financial provider will then electronically transfer the funds from your account to their account.

Banking ombudsman

The Australian Banking and Financial Services Ombudsman assists individuals and small businesses to resolve complaints concerning all financial services provided by banks. For example, there may be an instance where you see that money has been withdrawn from your bank account without your consent. In this case, it may be necessary to talk to the banking ombudsman to resolve the issue. Free interpreter services are available. For more information on the banking ombudsman visit: www.fos.org.au or call 1300 780 808.

Phone and internet

Australia has a range of phone and internet services available, including public phones, fixed (landline) phones, mobile and internet.

Mobile phones

It is best to purchase a SIM card or Australian mobile number when you arrive in Australia, as using your home phone number will incur high costs. There are two types of mobile phone accounts you can choose from:

Prepaid

A prepaid service gives you flexibility because you control how much you spend and can stop using the service any time. Pre-paid SIM cards are sold in many shops and supermarkets, as well as by mobile phone providers. After an easy set-up process with the provider, you will have a working Australian mobile number which you can top up with credit as needed. You can usually top up your prepaid service online or at a range of retail outlets. Your mobile phone provider can provide details on how you can top up your service.

Contract

If you will be using your mobile a lot, and will be in Australia for a fixed period of time for study, a contract might work out cheaper for you. There are numerous mobile phone operators in Australia, and you can choose from a range of phone plans where you can get the handset with little (if any) up-front cost; you then pay a fixed price per month for a certain amount of calls, text messages and data.

Internet

Many internet providers in Australia are also mobile or fixed phone carriers, and they offer pre-paid or contract internet plans similar to the above. If you choose a contract service, will will receive a modem, and just like a phone service, you pay a monthly rate to get a certain data allowance. Ask the providers you are considering for details of plans that might suit you.

Making international calls

To make international telephone calls from Australia, dial 0011 followed by the country code, the area code (if required) and the telephone number. To call Australia from overseas, dial 61 followed by the area code and telephone number. To make calls from one location to another within Australia, dial the area code (if required) followed by the telephone number. You can read more about telephone, internet and mobile phone services in Australia at: www.communications.gov.au

Transport

The transport options available in Australia include buses, trains, trams and ferries.  Your access to these transport services will vary depending on where you live.  You will also be able to access private and public car services from taxis to hired limousines, available to take you from door to door.

Some larger education providers will also have their own in-house transport system, especially useful if you have to leave your campus late at night or live in a hard-to-reach area.

Public transport costs vary depending on where in Australia you live and the type of transport you are using. You should look at the relevant state or territory government website for where you are living to see the full range of services available, timetables, and the costs associated.

See information below about transport concessions in each state and territory, along with links to the relevant websites.

Transport Concessions

Full‐time international students studying at a Queensland education institution in a course approved by Centrelink for Austudy, Abstudy or Youth Allowance purposes are eligible for concessions on public transport. The Translink website provides full details on Queensland concession fares. Education Queensland International also provides details on the Fee Exemption Policy.

Driving

If you hold a current drivers licence in your home country, you might be able to drive in Australia without sitting for any further driving tests. But remember that many state and territory governments require you to get an Australian drivers licence if you are here for more than three months. Your licence requirements, and any driving restrictions, are managed by the state or territory government where you are living. Visit the relevant state or territory government website or go to australia.gov.au to find out more.

After graduation

After your graduation, you have several options available to you whether you stay in Australia or head home. You may be able to continue your studies in Australia to pursue a higher level qualification or another field of study, you may be eligible to undertake post study work to put your newly gained knowledge to use and gain work experience in Australia, or you may choose to go home to undertake further study or work there.

If you decide you want to undertake further study or work in Australia you will need to check whether your visa allows this or whether you need to apply for a new visa. You can go to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) website to check your visa conditions and find out what your options are.

Wherever your path leads, think about joining an alumni group from your institution. It will help you stay in touch with your classmates, and can provide you with great benefits and opportunities.

Preparing for home

If you’re returning home after study, here are some steps to consider:

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