Working in Australia

Thinking of emigrating: here's what you need to know about living, working and looking for a job in Australia.

Australia’s relationship with Ireland is underpinned by strong family, social and cultural ties. Up to 30 per cent of Australians claim some degree of Irish ancestry and there are 50,000 Irish-born residents in the country.

Living in Australia

History

Although Australia was not officially settled by European explorers until 1788, evidence suggests the land had already been inhabited by Aboriginal people for more than 60,000 years.

Area

Australia is the sixth largest country in the world, with a coastline of nearly 26,000km.

Population

22.7 million (2012 estimate). Most of the population is concentrated along the eastern seaboard and the south-eastern corner of the continent.

Ethnic groups

White 92 per cent, Asian 7 per cent, Aboriginal and other 1 per cent.

Time differences

There are three different time zones in Australia: Western Standard Time, Central Standard Time and Standard Time, which are eight, nine and ten hours ahead of GMT respectively.

Religion

Australia has no state religion. While it is a predominantly Christian country (61 per cent), all religions are represented and respected in this multicultural society. 22 per cent profess to have no religion.

Exchange rate

A rough guide would be 1 euro to 1.17 Australian Dollars (August 2012).

Healthcare

Australia has an excellent health care system accessible to all who reside in the country and the Australia – Ireland Health Agreement covers Irish residents visiting Australia (including those on the 12 month working holiday visa).

However, it is strongly recommended that you consider private health care cover and travel insurance for your stay. Irish residents on student visas are not covered by the Agreement. They must be insured with the government scheme for foreign students.

Driving

If you have a visa and a current driver's licence from another English speaking country, you are allowed to drive for your first three months after arrival. After that, you will need to apply for the appropriate driver's licence, which will be issued by state and territory governments. This usually requires you to pass a knowledge test, a practical driving test and an eyesight test.

Working life

Irish Embassy

Embassy of Ireland, 20 Arkana Street, Yarralumla, A.C.T. 2600, Canberra, irishemb@cyberone.com.au.

The economy

Australia's economic performance over the last decade makes it a major destination for Irish graduates seeking temporary employment. Although challenged by global events, they were helped by the introduction of a strong fiscal policy and a continued demand for commodities.

Industry sectors

Australia has a large services sector and is a significant exporter of natural resources, energy, and food.

Employment opportunities

Unemployment in Australia has been steady at 5.2 per cent (July 2012).

Although there is still a demand for skilled labour in Australia, higher levels of education and current global economic crisis have meant that there is greater competition for available positions.

Expansion is expected to occur in financial services, telecommunications, biotechnology, IT and e-commerce, engineering and mining, healthcare, retail, recreation, tourism and construction.

Job applications

When you find a job vacancy that is suitable, your application will usually require a covering letter and CV (called résumé in Australia) with details of qualifications and references. In terms of content and layout, an Australian résumé and covering letter is similar to its Irish equivalent.

Your application should focus on the job you are applying for and should be concentrated on your achievements. It should also emphasise your competencies (skills) and contain information on qualifications and work experience.

For help with writing job applications and interview techniques in Australia see www.careerfaqs.com.au and www.jobsearch.gov.au.

Online applications are becoming more common and require a similar amount of attention to detail. Make sure you write a concise application email and attach your résumé.

Temporary work

The majority of Irish students or graduates initially visit Australia on a student or working holiday visa, so the first port of call is the Australian Embassy.

Some jobs are closely tied to particular courses of study and some students tutor schoolchildren or get jobs on campus.

Working holiday makers need a working holiday visa for a year, which must be broken up by periods of holiday or travel. There is also the option of taking advantage of a second visa if you can prove you have worked for a minimum of three months as a seasonal worker.

The main areas of employment for working holiday makers are hospitality, catering, sales, retail, administration, labouring and fruit picking. The latter is traditionally a boom area for casual employment and a good way for overseas workers to see a side of life outside the cities.

For work with employers on a less casual basis, it is advisable to identify suitable employers and contact them directly.

Some organisations run special schemes to help people find short-term work. These generally offer a full package helping with visa, transfers from the airport, accommodation for the first few nights, an orientation programme and help with finding work.

These schemes do charge but often provide people with an instant network of fellow visitors/travellers.

Internships

Participating in an international internship will give you the option of combining your particular area of study with practical, career-related experience. To apply for internships in Australia you can either contact companies directly or avail of the various organisations that can fully or partially arrange placements within companies.

Permanent work

If you are thinking of living and working in Australia on a more permanent basis, you can apply to migrate to Australia through the Australian General Skilled Migration Program. The program is designed to attract skilled migrants who can make an immediate contribution to the Australian economy.

It is divided into three sections: Skilled Independent Visas, Skilled Sponsored Visas and Skilled Recognised Graduates (Temporary) for recent engineering graduates.

Applicants need to have relevant professional qualifications and, usually work experience, to prove that they have the skills to contribute to the economy.

The Department of Immigration and Citizenship has the latest, detailed information about visas.

There are openings for professionals in areas such as civil engineering, architecture and physiotherapy but also shortages of welders, pastry chefs, stonemasons, bricklayers and hairdressers.

There’s always a demand for nurses and there’s a specific programme called Doctor Connect, operated by Australia’s department of health and ageing, to recruit doctors who have been trained overseas.

It may be possible for an Irish graduate working for an international company to work at the Australian 'branch' for some period of time.

For lists of Australian companies visit:

Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry
The Yellow Pages
Dun & Bradstreet, Australia

To find Irish companies with interests in Australia or Australian companies with interests in Ireland see Enterprise Ireland and the Irish Australian Chamber of Commerce.

Visas for working in Australia

All visitors to Australia need a passport and a visa. If you intend to do any kind of work in Australia, it is important to obtain the correct visa before you go. There are several different types of visa depending on the reason for visiting.

A useful starting point is the Australian embassy in Dublin or the Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship.

There is no visa office in the Dublin Embassy, but Irish people can contact the Australian High Commission in London.

You can also make initial enquiries by telephoning Visa Australia: +353 (0)1 6795452.

Student visas

If you wish to undertake a course of study in Australia lasting for more than three months, you will need to apply for a student visa. Once you have a student visa and have started your course you can apply for permission to work. Generally, students are limited to 20 hours' work per week when the student's course of study is in session and full-time during vacation periods.

To obtain a visa to study in Australia you must be fully enrolled in an Australian institution and receive a ‘Confirmation of Enrolment (COE)’. These forms are issued by the Australian institution you will be attending and are usually issued after tuition fees have been received. Irish nationals are able to apply online for the student visas.

Working Holiday Visas

Most graduates visit Australia on a 12 month Working Holiday Visa which allows you to work either full-time or part-time for as much of the year that you want. Working Holiday Visa holders who are working in several primary industries, including fishing, shearing and forestry, will be eligible to apply for a second working holidaymaker visa, thus extending their trip from 12 to 24 months. There is also the option of taking advantage of a second visa if you can prove you have worked for a minimum of three months as a seasonal worker.

Applying for a tax file number

To receive an income in Australia, you need a Tax File Number (TFN). You can apply for a TFN online.

Opening a bank account

In Australia most income, including salary or wages and government benefits, is paid directly into a bank account. You should open a bank account within six weeks of your arrival, when you usually need only your passport as identification. After six weeks you will need extra identification to open an account.

Useful websites

To find a job

While many graduates do not start their job search until they have arrived in Australia, it is advisable to do some preparation before leaving. A good starting point is careers4graduates.org.

Newspapers are also a helpful starting-point in Australian job-hunts. The Saturday editions often contain large numbers of vacancies.

The Age (Melbourne)
The Courier-Mail (Queensland)
Sydney Morning Herald (New South Wales)

For other newspapers online consult Australian Newspapers Online or the National Library of Australia.

The careers office in the local universities and colleges can have lists of jobs specifically aimed at graduates. See australian-universities.com.

Graduate careers fairs can be useful way of finding work. The following websites list career fairs:

Graduate Careers Australia
Graduate Opportunities
GradConnection

Using local employment agencies can also be a useful means of getting a job. Private employment agencies are listed in the Yellow Pages under 'Employment Services' and 'Employment - Labour Hire Contractors'.

Other websites that advertise vacancies include:

Jobsearch
career.com.au
My Career
Jobnet
Simply Hired Australia
Jobaroo
Careerjet
Seek

Internships

BUNAC
Australian Internships
AA Education Network
Intern Options Australia
www.wages.com.au

Country information

Good general country information websites include:

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Charles Sturt University - Guide to Australia
The Economist
Economy Watch
Business News

We would like to thank the careers service at Dublin Institute of Technology for their help with this article. The information was correct as of October 2012