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Job Searching in Australia

(Archived Article)

The first thing you need is a working holiday visa. If you arrive on a tourist visa and take employment you could be kicked out. 

If you do this, keep your head down and your mouth shut around strangers you may get away with it. As with anywhere, there is always work to be found whatever the local unemployment rate. The locals may have no wish to do particular jobs, or their temporary nature makes them unsuitable, and will leave them to you. That said, Australia is very proactive when it comes to hunting down those working without permission. Unlike in New Zealand where I felt we could have taken work with few consequences, I did not think this to be anywhere near as likely in Australia.

A report by the Bureau of Immigration, Multicultural and Population Research concluded that working holidaymakers provided "an important source of temporary labour for some Australian industries, including fruit growers, temporary clerical and labour agencies, hotels, shops and restaurants." It also found that finding work was generally easy to obtain because of the working traveller's flexibility. 

If you believe statistics you can expect to earn between A$200 and A$299* per week, stay at each job for 6.8 weeks and spend about A$43 per day. Backpackers are taxed higher than Australian residents at 29% of all income earned up to around A$400. This is providing you have obtained a tax file number before you start work. No number will put your tax rate at 49%. Remember to lodge an income tax return before you leave Australia and you may be eligible for a refund. 

Looking for Work
Read newspapers, visit hostels, check out notice boards, knock on doors, make calls and contact the Job Network which replaced the CES on May 1st. Helen Egan, currently on a working holidaymaker visa, recommends putting the feelers out and keeping your ears open in a small town. There are plenty of jobs out there, many requiring no experience. You have to start somewhere and being keen and confident is often enough to get your foot in the door. If you have experience, qualifications or useful references take proof with you.

TNT, a free magazine distributed to Australians outside tube stations, provides a useful Australia & New Zealand Travel Planner which includes a section on work. When you arrive in Oz look out for TNT Australia and The Backpackers Guide. Both can be found at airports, coach and train stations and hostels.

Work Schemes
The close ties between Britain and Oz, which will remain when and if Australia turns to republicanism, offer special considerations when it comes to work schemes. People of both countries are able to arrange work under the protective umbrellas of organisations like BUNAC and CIEE Both schemes offer a package of visas, flights, insurance, accommodation and assistance. BUNAC, for instance, operate their Work Australia scheme for students on the same requirements as the working holidaymaker visa, except the age range is 18 to 25. They charge £1600 for the whole package and say that previous participants earned on average A$360 per week to offset the cost. Also try Travel Active Programmes, PO Box 107, 5800 Venray, the Netherlands. Telephone (31) 478 551900.

Looking after children is a viable option in Australia. These agencies may be able to offer placements: People For People, Academy Au Pair & Nanny Agency, 42 Cedarhurst Drive, London SE9 5LP [t] 0181 294 1191; Au Pair Australia, 6 Wilford St, Corrimal, NSW 2519; AuPair Connection [t] 61 2 9450 0224 [e]

Any tourist brochure or travel guide to Australia will highlight where the main tourist areas are. Head there to knock on doors and make calls to bars, hotels, souvenir shops and the like. Tourist establishments will expect you to look neat and tidy so take smart black shoes and trousers and a white shirt. Some bars or resorts may provide them but there will be no job if they don't and you have no means of looking presentable.

The island resorts off the coast of Queensland, such as Dunk Island, the Daydream Islands or the Whit Sundays, a chain of 74 islands, are good places to seek work. Hamilton, one of the larger Whit Sundays, caters to over 2000 people, has a marina, shops and a bank. Peter Davis who works on Bedarra recommends working at a resort island as a good way to save money though he does say it's easy to piss cash away if restraint isn't shown. Pay is around A$300 per week after food and accommodation of around $60-$70 are taken away. Tips may be pooled towards staff facilities. The social life is usually worth a 10,000 mile journey and employees of the resort have access to the same facilities as the guests, either for free or at knock down prices. These usually include every watersport imaginable. Some islands are owned by airlines. Bedarra, for instance, used to be owned by Qantas and perks included one worldwide flight per year at a 75% discount. 

Office Work
There are plenty of employment agencies capable of assistance. Here are a few: Metro Personnel [t] 2 9299 5477, Michael Page Finance [t] 3 9600 1633 or 2 9254 0200, Hays [t] 8 9322 5198, 3 91614 2443 or 7 3839 5011.

Even if earning cash is a priority, a short term voluntary project may be worth considering. Australia is a long way to go to find yourself unemployed and organising voluntary work on a project before you leave can get you established in the country, alleviate initial meal and accommodation worries, and provide a source of potential contacts from among the other volunteers for when you move on.

ATCV seek reasonably fit volunteers, aged 15 to 70, to help keep the beaches pristine and the snow white. Projects include tree planting, flora and fauna surveys and bush regeneration. Take old clothes, sturdy shoes, a sleeping bag and some cash to contribute towards food. Try also BTCV, Earthwatch, Involvement Volunteers Association (PO Box 218, Port Melbourne, Victoria 3207) and Christian Workcamps Australia (PO Box K164, Haymarket, NSW 2000).

Other Work
Physical work can be found on building sites and in the mining industry. Sales, especially telephone sales, provide opportunities for work, though you need to look smart. Look in the yellow pages for charities that may require collectors. The Wilderness Society (1st floor, 263 Broadway, Glebe, Sydney, NSW 2037 [t] 2 9552 2355) will dress you in a koala suit for that. Remember that the seasons in Australia are reversed. Summer work will be in our winter and winter resort work will be available during our summer. The big thing in Australia in 2000 will be the Sydney Olympics. Lots of casual work will be available and an increase in working holiday visas is expected making this a very good time to both apply and find work.

More Links
Directory > Live, Work & Travel in Australia 

This is an archived article and some details, especially wages, may have changed since this article was first published