When first arriving in Australia on a Working Holiday visa there are some key steps to take when you first arrive in order to get set and ready to go, which I have listed below!!
1) Get your Tax File Number
This is relatively straightforward to do and you can apply for this through the link here. It is very important to get this done as quickly as possible as this is basically how your tax is calculated and if you don’t have on you will get taxed more which is never good. It also makes your tax return at the end of the year really straightforward to do! Which means more money 🙂 Once you have applied you will receive it in the post so it is important that you have some sort of address you can send it to. Some hostels will be willing to do this but others may not or may just not be reliable. However a few days after applying it is possible to simply call them and get the number given to you over the phone. Just don’t lose it!!
2) Create a Bank Account
Probably the most important thing here is a safe place to put all that hard worked money, rather than under the mattress!! There are a number of banks you can chose from but the one I would recommend is Commonwealth Bank as they are probably the Bank with the most ATM’s across the country which saves on withdrawal fees. (Yes banks will charge you for withdrawals from ATM’s that are not from your own bank) The other thing you will hear bounded about when in Australia is Superannuation which is often shortened to “Super”. Basically this is where if you are earning over $400 a month your employer is legally obliged to contribute to what effectively is a pension scheme. You can either join the company one, which most have, or you can set up your own through your bank so all contributions you receive basically go to one pot. Good idea right?? Considering us backpackers will no doubt have multiple jobs with multiple employers?? Again this is something you can do easily through Commonwealth Banks online banking system and you then receive an email with all the details you need to give to your employer as well as documentary proof to send them in the form of an attachment. Easy. And again… more moolah for the travels!!
Again another very important thing to do very early on. If you are from a country that has a reciprocal health care agreement with Australia this will allow you to claim free / subsidised healthcare in Australia. If you don’t sign up to this then you won’t be able to claim it so it is very important to do this. It is something that is very straightforward to do as well. All you need to do is take your passport and visa number into a Medicare centre and then fill out a form and you will get your Medicare number instantaneously and your card will be sent to you within a few weeks.
One of the most popular jobs to do is to get work in a bar. Most places will require experience but you can find work without. The most important thing here in order to hit the ground running is to complete your RSA as soon as possible as this is mandatory in every state, and in some cases it may be worth getting your RCG as well if they have gambling machines on site. The process and costs for doing this is different in every state. In NSW for example as of 2014 you have to complete this in person and it costs around $110 or so. This is different to other states where you can still complete the course online at a much cheaper cost of around $40. The reason NSW brought this in is because inspectors basically found that a lot of the people who had completed their RSA’s effectively just got someone else to complete it for them online, and there are even people who offer to do it for you online if you look hard enough, so I wouldn’t be particularly surprised if this became the trend across all of Australia in the next couple of years. And your RSA isn’t limited to only bar work, basically any job that has alcohol on the premises you will need an RSA. So it may be worth getting one even if you don’t intend to work in a bar.
Obviously getting down and finding work is very important when arriving in Australia. But it is something that you need to be very careful with as Backpackers are a group that can be easily exploited if you are not careful.
There are a number of jobs boards and sites that you can use to help you find work. Two of the better job boards that I have used are TAW and Jobs4Travellers, but just so you are aware you do need to pay to sign up to these. Then there are some of the more obvious places to look like Gumtree and Indeed but there is also Backpackers Jobs Australia which is a useful site. Another good idea is to sign up to some of the agencies as these are a good way of finding higher paid mid to long term placements. The agency I generally work through is Hays Recruitment which are quite well known worldwide and are very good. And the good thing about them is that you know the work you find through these agencies will be legitimate because they vet all the companies that they send their clients to so it is extremely reliable and I would highly recommend this route especially if you have contact centre experience. Some other worthwhile agencies to get in touch with are Randstad for childcare, and MEA if you want to promotion or retail work. (A number of my friends work with these guys and the hours and money can be very good).
Some areas of work to avoid and be careful of are fundraising and commission only positions. When you get into Sydney you will see lot’s of job advertisements for Charity Fundraising in particular, and despite what they will have you believe, most of the money you are rasing goes to the company not the charity, at least for the first year anyway. And these outfits are usually very dodgy and will cut you loose very quickly if you aren’t making the sales. This is for street and call centre fundraising. And me and my girlfriend both got bit by these companies early on. The reality with this one is that it is becoming an extremely saturated market so there isn’t really that much money in it anymore, and a lot of the companies are struggling which makes them only more desperate, and therefore more dangerous to work for. Companies in particular to look out for are Ways (they won’t pay you), 2evolve (leave your soul at the door if you want to work their) and Connect Fundraising (they have no money so will ask you to go commission only the minute you have a zero day). And these are only the ones I have encountered! There are many more out their so be warned!
Some other tid bits to be aware of – if you plan to work in Childcare it is important that you complete your ACECQA well in advance of coming to Australia. This can be a bit of a pain in the ass to complete and are very difficult to deal with but a lot of childcare positions especially will request it. It is basically where your qualifications are assessed for their equivalency in Australia. You will also need to complete a child check which is fairly more straight forward but you will need at least two forms of ID in order to complete it so just make sure you bring these with you.