5 Must Haves for Your Australian Working Holiday

Working Abroad — By on May 11, 2011 at 7:13 am

By Caroline Eubanks

Working abroad is one of the most rewarding experiences of any traveler’s life. It allows you to meet a range of personalities, as well as learn a skill you might not have learned at home. Australia has long been the home for working holidaymakers for the high wages and ease of entry for these visa holders. Here are a few things you should have if you’re going to spend the year working and traveling around the Land Down Under.

Working Holiday Visa

If you’re under 30 and a citizen of the United States, Chile, Thailand, Turkey, the Commonwealth countries, the European Union or Japan, Korea and Taiwan, you’re eligible for the work and holiday or working holiday visa. It allows you to stay in Australia for one year, working for each employer for six months. All you have to do is visit the Australian government website (www.immi.gov.au), enter your passport information and answer a few questions about your criminal history, assuming you don’t have one. There is also a fee of $230. The visa is stored electronically, so all you need to show customs is your passport. But it’s a good idea to print off your confirmation email for your records. Note that you can only hold a working holiday visa once.

Tax File Number

With an address and your passport number in hand, applying for your TFN is easy. It takes a few days to process, but is vital if you’re paying taxes on your wages. All you have to do is visit the website (www.ato.gov.au) and enter your information. You should note that even if you do a more casual job like fruit picking, employers will still want to see that you have a TFN. Some employers may give you cash in hand, but it is not recommended.

Australian Bank Account

There are plenty of options to choose from, including NAB, St. George and ANZ, as well as my bank of choice, Commonwealth Bank (www.commbank.com.au). It’s as easy as providing your address and passport number. You don’t have to already have money in the account, but employers will pay you through direct deposit. If your home bank allows transfers of funds to an Australian account, it’s a good idea to do so beforehand so you don’t have to deal with transaction fees, which can be $3 at the ATM and another $5 from your home bank.

Resume/Curriculum Vitae

If you plan on starting work immediately after arriving in Australia, bring copies of your resume with you. Also have contact information for your references, as many employers will ask for them and even call them overseas. And while in the United States, we’re taught that if your resume is longer than one page, it won’t get read, a one-page resume can be seen as incomplete in Australia. Here’s what you should include on your CV:

-Personal Information, including your name, contact information, date of birth and visa information
-Education
-Employment History, including responsibilities at each position
-Courses relevant to the position you are seeking
-References with contact information

Job-Specific Qualifications

For many jobs, even part-time or casual, you may need to go through training or a course to be eligible for employment.

Responsible Service of Alcohol: The RSA is a common certificate, required for all bartenders and some restaurant jobs. Prices range from $50-150, depending on the institution running the classes. I got mine for $50 through the Sydney Bar School (www.sydneybarschool.com.au) by booking online. The class lasts for 6 hours and the test is open book, so you don’t have to stress about failing. The teachers have even been known to give you the answers. RSA certificates for New South Wales only apply for that state, but other states will accept it or require refresher courses to work elsewhere.
Responsible Service of Gambling: Pubs that have the famous “pokies” require employees to take this class, which makes you aware of the signs of a gambling addiction, a major problem in Australia. You can get your RSA and RSG in the same day for less than $200 AUD.
Coffee Skills: Aussies are crazy about their coffee and even the smallest cafes require employees to have some degree of coffee experience, particularly in making cappuccinos and flat whites. Classes are also offered in this field.
Fruit Picking: While you don’t need a certificate to pick fruit, many backpackers underestimate the strenuous work. These fruit and vegetables thrive in tropical climates, so the working conditions are muggy and your body will be aching. Book your hostel only one week at a time, just in case. And if you are staying at a hostel for your picking, book in advance, as they fill up quickly in season, and make sure transportation to work is available.

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    4 Comments

  • Ana says:

    Thanks so much for this article. I’m currently pondering the possibility of doing this myself and this info really helps.

  • Rebecca says:

    But if your resume is only one page, don’t worry too much. I found that lots of employers were impressed that I had it down to one page! They are definitely shying away from the British way and heading more towards the US way of resume format.

    Otherwise, good tips, especially about courses!

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