Congratulations! If you have finally obtained your skilled migration visa for Australia, then it is time to prepare well and get ready for a new chapter in your life.
Before you pack your bags, you must first ensure that you are aware of what to expect once you arrive in the Land Down Under.
Welcome to Australia
Australia is considered to be one of the world’s most attractive places to work and live in according to the official report of GoAbroad published in November 20181. In fact, the government of Australia has conferred official citizenship status to over five million people since 1949. In the period of 2018 to present, a total of 127, 674 people have become citizens of Australia by conferral2.
If you were one of the hopefuls to make a living and build a life in Australia, then it would do you good if you can prepare well. While it took considerable effort to acquire a visa to enter Australia, it is also important for you to know what to do once you set foot on Australian soil.
Knowing the basics will protect you from any inconveniences as well as help you avoid any immigration issues. While not everything may apply to you, here is a quick guide that you can refer to the moment you arrive in Australia:
1. Know the Basics
Australia’s Department of Home Affairs highly suggest that you get familiar with basic information, facts and figures to help you settle comfortably in the country. This starts with a good understanding of the Australian government and how it works.
Basically, there are three levels of government in Australia – commonwealth or federal government, state or territory, and the local government that directly provides services for residents and migrants. You can know more about the Australian government here.
You should also be aware of the time zones in Australia namely: Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST or EST), Australian Central Standard Time (ACST) and Australian Western Standard Time (AWST). Some states use Daylight Saving Time from October to April. To know more, visit this site.
To make your life easier in Australia, there are organizations that provide self-service phone lines or online accounts so you won’t need to visit their offices anymore. Check out this site for more self-service information.
2. Know the telephone numbers
Arriving in a country and not having anyone you know there might be quite scary for some. Should you have queries, it is best that you know whom to call and how to do so.
Calls can be made from landlines or fixed-line phones, payphones, or mobile phones. The phone numbers can start with:
- 1800 (free call)
- 13/1300 (local rate)
- 04 (mobile)
- 02,03,07,08 (local or geographic area code)
If you are calling from a number with the same area code, then you do not need to input the area code anymore.
Call charges will vary on the type of phone you are using for the call, the telephone company you are using, and the call plan you have chosen.
In an emergency, call 000 to get an ambulance, reach the police, or contact the fire brigade. You can also call this number if someone needs urgent help. Know more about 000 here.
You can also download the Emergency+ app from the Google play store.
3. Apply for a tax file number
Working in Australia requires you to file for a Tax File Number as soon as possible. This will allow you to pay your taxes to the government. This unique number is issued to you only once and will not change even if you move interstate, move out of Australia then return, change your job, or even change your name.
It should be protected at all times and never be shared with anyone, even if they are members of your family. There are specific organizations or people that are entitled to ask for your TFN that includes the Australian Taxation Office, bank or financial institution, Centrelink, your employer, and your superannuation fund.
4. Health and Wellbeing
You should notify the Health Undertaking Service regarding your onshore contact details within 28 days from the date of arrival. This is if you have signed Form 815 or the Health Undertaking at the request of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection. For details, visit the Bupa Medical Visa Services site.
Upon entry to Australia, you should also try to enrol with Medicare. Medicare is the country’s national health care system that provides free or subsidised health care services for citizens, permanent residents, and some temporary migrants.
Depending on your visa, Medicare generally provides health care access to humanitarian entrants, migrants, and refugees. Other migrants may have to file for private health insurance. Visit a Medicare Service Centre with your passport and other travel documents to enrol. To find out if you’re eligible and know more about Medicare, you can visit their online hub here.
There’s also a Health Care Card provided by the Australian government for those who are eligible, such as those who receive Centrelink payments or has low income. For more information, you can check their website here.
Moving to another country may also pose a risk for some mental health and wellbeing issues. If you need mental health services, the Department of Social Services also provides assistance. Check out the details here.
5. Language Barrier
If you are not a native English speaker, there is an Adult English Migrant Program. This program provides free English classes of up to 510 hours. There are also other programs that offer translation and interpreter services.
For more information on language assistance, please visit this site.
Live well, Work well
Moving to another country requires you to make adjustments. You will need to learn a lot of things that will help you adapt and live comfortably. Aside from the basics, you should also learn how to culturally and socially acclimatize.
Should you need more information about settling in Australia, you should read this booklet provided by the Department of Home affairs.
1 10 Best Places to Work Overseas in 2019: https://www.goabroad.com/articles/jobs-abroad/best-places-to-work-overseas-in-2019
2 Australian citizenship statistics: https://www.homeaffairs.gov.au/research-and-statistics/statistics/citizenship-statistics
Bevan Berning is an Immigration professional and owner of Pathway Visas, an Immigration Agency dealing mostly with skilled immigration to Canada and Australia. Bevan’s enthusiasm for the industry has kept in the Immigration field for the past seven years. Bevan is South African by birth and has been residing in Dubai for the past eight years.