Life and study in Australia

From banking and budgeting to organising your rental accommodation and study arrangements—you need to prepare and get organised for life in Australia so that you can concentrate on your studies.

Managing your finance

Banking

Accommodation

Health care

Employment

Study

Useful websites related to life in Australia

Websites for public transport in each capital city

Your obligations 


Managing your finance

You are responsible for your expenses in Australia and for supporting your family members, should they join you. You will receive an Establishment Allowance on your arrival, which will help cover expenses including textbooks, rental bond and insurance. This is currently $5,000.

You will also receive a Contribution to Living Expenses (CLE) payment every two weeks to help meet costs such as accommodation, transport, food, entertainment and communications. The CLE is set by the Australian Government. Your entitlement starts on your first day in Australia and is paid in arrears (that is, it is not in advance). It ends five days after your examination results are released if you are a coursework student, or five days after you have submitted your thesis if you are a research student.

Payments are tax free and continue during public holidays and semester breaks, approved fieldwork and reunion visits to your home country, and for up to six weeks if you are hospitalised. Payments will stop if you are suspended from the Australia Awards or convicted of a criminal offence. For more details on your Establishment Allowance and CLE see the Australia Awards Scholarships policy handbook.

Back to top

Banking

Your first priority on arrival should be to open an Australian bank account. On your arrival, your institution will advise you have to do this. You will need an account so we can deposit your establishment allowance and your CLE payments. To open an account, you will need photographic identification, such as your passport or driver license. Once your account is set-up, you can register for internet banking and withdraw cash from automatic teller machines (referred to as ATMs) 24 hours a day, as well as from many stores. In Australia debit or credit cards are most commonly used instead of cash in stores. This system is called EFTPOS meaning electronic funds transfers at the point of sale.

Back to top

Accommodation

Finding the right accommodation is one of the biggest challenges most students face when they arrive. Rental housing is in short supply in many parts of Australia.

If you are on your own, the simplest, safest and most convenient option is on-campus accommodation. Staying in a residential college saves you time and money on transport, and also protects you from the expense and uncertainties of the rental property market. On-campus accommodation can run out fast, so be sure to register your intention to seek on-campus accommodation with the Australia Awards Office in Laos as soon as possible before you leave for Australia. Note that on-campus accommodation is not guaranteed.

You may also consider home-stay accommodation—boarding with a local family in their home—or sharing accommodation with other students. In a home-stay arrangement, the house is usually furnished and you only need to furnish your own room. Contact the student accommodation unit at your institution for more details. Many institutions have this information on their website.

If your family is joining you in Australia, renting a private house or flat will be your best accommodation option. However, available rental properties can be limited across all Australian capitals, and the cost of rent can be high.

Back to top

Health care

Health services in Australia are of a high standard but are expensive. Australia has a special system of health cover for international students called Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC). However, OSHC may not cover all medical expenses, and you are liable for any additional expenses incurred by you and your dependants during your Scholarship. The institution will arrange and pay for OSHC. The Student Contact Officer will provide you with more details regarding OSHC once you arrive at the institution.

Whilst OSHC benefits may vary depending on which health fund is used by the institution – the following generally applies:

OSHC covers:

  • From the time you arrive in Australia until they leave.
  • Basic medical and hospital care in Australia.
  • Cost of some prescribed medicines.
  • Ambulance service for emergencies.

OSHC often has waiting period for a number of services. You should familiarise themselves with the benefits and waiting periods. Please contact the Student Contact Officer at your institution for further details.

Back to top

Employment

You and dependent family members travelling with you are allowed to work. You do not need to apply separately for a work permit. Some Australia Awards awardees get work on campus as tutors. Other scholars work off campus, for example in the service industry. Types of work available vary greatly between regions. However, few Australia Awards awardees meet Australian requirements for certain professions, such as medicine and teaching.

We advise against working during term as it could disrupt your studies. You can work up to 40 hours per fortnight while your course is in session, and unlimited hours during session breaks. Work that is part of your course is not counted. A special provision for Australian Government- sponsored students enables dependent members of your family to work.  For Masters and PhD students, your dependants can work unlimited hours, but not until the date that your course begins. Jobs are advertised in newspapers and on the internet and most institutions have employment and career services that can help you find part-time work, write resumes and perform well in interviews.

If your course lasts for more than six months, you are considered to be an Australian resident for tax purposes. If you work, you should obtain a tax file number from the Australian Tax Office and you will be required to lodge a tax return at the end of the financial year (30 June). Any income tax deductions made by your employer will be returned to you if you have earned less than $18,200.

Back to top

Study

Students at university in Australia enjoy strong and often informal interaction with their lecturers and teachers. Everyone is encouraged to comment and ask questions in class and in lectures, and students address most lecturers by their first names. Whether you are studying plant genomics, public health policy or international relations, you will probably do much of your work as a part of a group. Group projects are designed to prepare you for teamwork in academia or in the workplace. Plagiarism (copying other people’s work, including published works) is forbidden, easily detected and grounds for exclusion. Learn how to cite your sources—for example, according to the Harvard system or by using footnotes. Universities, and within them faculties, often use different rules for citation and formatting. Be sure to find out the specific rules for your university and your faculty. A good place to ask will be at your compulsory Introductory Academic Program. This will provide detailed information on plagiarism, teach you correct referencing and how to use commonly used referencing software such as the Endnote program. If you need extra help to manage your studies, ask your Student Contact Officer to arrange it.

Back to top

Useful sites related to life in Australia

There are useful websites to learn more about Australia before you arrive.

The Australia Awards webpage has lots of useful information that may be useful to you.

The Australian Trade Commission website – Future unlimited study in Australia provides information to international students on living and studying in Australia.

Department of Immigration and Border Protection has essential information on local services, public transport and accommodation for each state and territory.

The Australia Bureau of Statistics has statistics, information and services on economic, social and environmental matters.

Australia’s national broadcaster, the ABC, has up-to-the minute national and local news and weather, as well as an Australian perspective on international events.

Google maps will help you pinpoint your new city and town.

The Australian Customs and Border Protection Service manages Australia’s border security and detects and deters unlawful movement of goods and people across the border.

Back to top

Public transport in your city

Canberra: ACTION

Sydney and New South Wales: Transport NSW

Melbourne and Victoria: Public Transport Victoria

Brisbane: TRANSLink and Queensland: Queensland Government

Adelaide: Adelaide Metro and South Australia: Transport SA

Perth: Transperth and Western Australia: Transwa

Darwin and Northern Territory: Department of Transport

Hobart and Tasmania: Metro Tasmania

Back to top

Your obligations

Study

You must

  • commence the Scholarship in the academic year for which it is offered, unless DFAT has agreed to defer the commencement of your studies until DFAT is satisfied that you are ready to do so;
  • participate in the pre-departure briefing arranged by the DFAT Post and participate in the Institution’s compulsory Introductory Academic Program when you arrive in Australia;
  • undertake only the approved course of study for which the Scholarship is offered, abide by the rules of the Institution, submit all assessment items required for the course and sit examinations, and complete my course of study and the Scholarship by the end date;
  • obey the laws that apply in Australia and act in a manner that will not bring disrepute to DFAT; and leave Australia for a minimum of two years at the end of, or termination of, your Scholarship. Any time spent in Australia during the two year exclusion period will extend the end date of the exclusion period.
  • maintain a full time program of study at all times unless approved by DFAT;
  • make satisfactory academic progress as determined by the Institution;
  • reside in Australia for the duration of the Scholarship (apart from holidays, reunion visits or fieldwork visits which have been approved by DFAT);
  • maintain a clear and direct line of communication with DFAT through the Student Contact Officer, recognising  that the Student Contact Officer is the first point of contact for my dealing with DFAT; and
  • work with DFAT and the Student Contact Officer if a welfare or critical incident occurs.

Visas

  • You must satisfy all visa requirements determined by the Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection to hold a Temporary Visa (subclass 576), as set out at: http://www.immi.gov.au.
  • You must be aware that Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection issues visas for entry into Australia and that DFAT can provide support for certain visas but has no control over visa decisions made by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection.
  • You will not apply, including as part of a joint or family application, for a visa other than the  Temporary Visa (subclass 576) for the duration of your Scholarship. If you do, then your Scholarship will be terminated, and you will incur a debt to the Commonwealth of Australia of the total accrued cost of your scholarship.

For further information of 576 visa application, please visit the Department of Immigration website for details.

Finance

  • You are responsible for all costs that occur during your Scholarship period that are not covered by the Scholarship benefits.
  • You are responsible for how you budget any Scholarship benefits that you receive to pay your living expenses.
  • You must repay all Scholarship benefits you receive, as a debt due and owing to the Commonwealth of Australia if:
    • you do not leave Australia at the end of your Scholarship; or
    • if you apply for anything other than a short-term temporary visa to return to Australia within two years of completion of your Scholarship.

      Back to top