Tips and Advice for Working Holiday Makers
Setting up a bank account in Australia
Most employers won't pay into an overseas bank account, so you will need to set up an Australian Bank account. If you can, try to do this before you leave home, transfer some funds into it and then collect your bank card when you arrive. Work n Holiday is just one organisation that can help you with this.
If you don't get the chance to open an account before moving to Australia, you will need to go to a bank when you arrive. Before arriving, be sure to check what documentation (passport, previous bank statements, visa etc) you need to set up your new bank account. The main banks in Australia are Westpac, Commonwealth, ANZ and NAB.
Local regulations require Australian employers to pay a percentage of an employee’s income into a fund for retirement, this is known as ‘superannuation’. Overseas workers are also entitled to this payment. Temporary residents can access their retirement savings (superannuation) upon permanent departure from Australia. For more information, visit the Australian Taxation Office's website.
Taking out health insurance in Australia
Medical treatment in Australia can be very expensive and it is advisable to have both travel and health insurance. It is strongly advised that you take out private health insurance to cover yourself in Australia. iSelect can help you choose the best health insurance for your needs.
The Australian Government has signed Reciprocal Health Care Agreements (RHCA) with the governments of the United Kingdom, Sweden, Belgium, the Netherlands, Finland, Norway, Malta, Slovenia, Italy, Republic of Ireland and New Zealand which entitles you to limited subsidised health services for immediately ‘medically necessary’ treatment while visiting Australia. For more information visit Medicare Australia.
Getting your tax back
If you intend to work in Australia, you must obtain a Tax File Number (TFN). If you begin working before getting your TFN, you will have 28 days to provide it to your employer. You can apply for this in person at the Australian Tax Office, or online at the Tax Office's Website.
You will need to complete a compulsory tax return, when your working holiday visa finishes or you stop work. You may be eligible for a tax refund. Ask your employer for a payment summary, showing your total income and the amount of tax withheld. Many specialists in tax return services can assist you with your tax return.
The amount of tax withheld can often be of significant value so it is important that you investigate getting it returned.
Finding working holiday jobs in Australia
Australia is fortunate to have a large range of jobs available for working holiday makers. Jobs can include tourism & hospitality, retail, farm work, fruit picking, construction, nursing and many others depending on your experience and qualifications.
- Dress appropriately and approach prospective employers in a professional manner. For example, to work in hospitality, it is expected that you will have a basic ‘hospitality uniform’ of black shoes, black trousers and a white shirt.
- Make sure you can leave employers with your contact details. A mobile phone and email address are the best options. Make sure your phone is switched on!
- Have copies of your resume printed or make some business cards with your name and contact details and leave with everyone you speak to.
- Get a copy of your resume/CV on USB or the web so you can email it to employers.
- The Harvest Trail provides working holiday makers with important information about harvest work opportunities, working conditions, transport and accommodation options in the key harvest areas around Australia. For the latest up-to-date information, visit the Harvest Trail website or call the National Harvest Labour Information Service on 1800 062 332.
- If you are planning to do agricultural work, check out the useful information in this guide from the National Farmers Deferation
- Check hostel noticeboards and local newspapers for employment opportunities.
- Provide proof of all qualifications, especially for skilled jobs such as nursing.
- Be aware that for some professions, registration or licensing may be required (e.g. health professions, construction work, responsible service of alcohol). Some licensing requirements are state or territory-specific.
- You may need to undergo health and/or character checks (e.g. working with children).
- Be honest and reliable – let employers know how long you are available and give them notice when you plan to leave. Don’t promise to stay for a set period of time then leave after a short period. By doing so, you will be doing future backpackers and working holiday makers a disservice.
- You will need a permanent Australian mailing address to apply for your tax file number, Medicare card and Australian bank account. More information above.
- YHA has hostels in New South Wales and Western Australia that can help you find work and stay longer term.
- If you have any questions or concerns about your pay or working conditions, you can contact the Fair Work Ombudsman or Department of Education, Training and Workplace Relations.
- Remember, be flexible. You are a Working Holiday Maker, and there are hundreds of you all looking for the same job at the same time! Be creative, sell yourself and be persistent.
In the end, most jobs you will apply for as a backpacker will require a great personality over qualifications. Be sure to let the bubbly, well travelled and friendly version of yourself shine through to potential employers.