New life in Australia: Beginner’s guide for migrants

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Starting a new life in Australia as a regular migrant comes with challenges and rewards. A migrant can exert enormous effort into understanding how things work, especially in obtaining the basic necessities in life that come with Australia immigration. Aside from supporting the hiring of migration experts in matters related to Australia visas, the Department of Immigration and Citizenship also extends complimentary assistance to intending and newly arrived migrants by providing the “Beginning a Life in Australia” booklet. DIAC encourages the careful perusal of the first four chapters which discuss the following:

What to do soon after arrival

Immediately after arrival to Australia, migrants are advised to do eight important tasks, where the first three are considered of utmost importance, while the remaining five could apply depending on the migrant’s circumstance.

How to start a new life in Australia

The basic requirements that should be settled include:

  • Applying for a tax file number (TFN) – This is necessary in order to receive income in Australia. The agency that provides the TFN is the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). This unique number can be applied on the ATO website, by telephone, or in person in one of the shopfront location.
  • Registering with Medicare – Administered by Medicare Australia, Medicare is the country’s medical scheme for citizens and migrants in order to help with medical expenses. The government also subsidises the cost of some medicines under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Agreement (PBS). In order to obtain a number (and eventually a card), migrants need to present their passport and other travel documents to a Medicare office. The Medicare Information Kit, which is translated in several languages, supplies essential information about the program.
  • Opening a bank account – In Australia, income is deposited directly into an account in the migrant’s name. A bank account is also used to keep savings securely. It is beneficial to open a bank account within six weeks of arrival since a passport is the only needed identification. In order to avoid high taxation rate on earned interest, account applicants must inform the bank of their TFN.
  • Registering with Centrelink – Centrelink is the program that the Australian government uses in order to disburse social security payments. Most visa holders become eligible to receive Centrelink payments after a certain waiting period. Migrants are advised to visit an office or the Department of Human Services website for more detailed information on Centrelink service, programs, and contact numbers.
  • Contacting the Health Undertaking Service – This applies to migrants who have signed a Health Undertaking Form 815 at the request of DIAC. The Health Undertaking Service will endorse concerned migrants to the nearest Health Authority Clinic for the required follow-up medical checks.
  • Registering for English classes – For non-English speakers, learning English is essential when settling in Australia, so the government provides the Adult Migration English Program (AMEP). New arrivals receive free tuition of up to 510 hours, and their family and employment situations are also considered in determining the most applicable program.
  • Enrolling children in a school – The Australian government requires all children from five years of age to attend school up to the completion of Year 10. Afterwards, full-time education is compulsory for at least 25 hours weekly until 17 years of age. Intensive English language assistance is available for children who still need to learn English.
  • Applying for a driver’s license – States and territories require this permit in order to drive. It must also be noted that driving an unregistered vehicle is illegal. Migrants without an international driver’s license need to pass a Driver Knowledge Test to obtain a learner’s permit. Once the skill is learned, they can then apply for a driver’s license. Each state and territory has its own agency for registering a car and obtaining a driver’s license, so migrants must communicate with the appropriate office.

Help with English

Free English translation and interpretation is available 24/7 through the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS National). This is beneficial to non-English speakers who want to request assistance from government establishments. TIS National issues an “I need an interpreter” card in order to show intent to request for language assistance easier.

Those who want to learn English may take three programs other than the AMEP stated above:

  • Language, Literacy and Numeracy Program (LLNP) – this is for people with low literacy who need introductory training in English writing, speaking, listening, mathematics, and vocational learning to assist in job search.
  • Workplace English Language and Literacy Program (WELL) – this provides training in English language, literary, and numeracy skills to Australian workers.
  • English as a Second Language New Arrivals Program (ESL-NA) – this provides tuition to newly arrived non-English-speaking students in Catholic and independent primary and secondary schools.

Emergency services

In Australia, dialing a triple zero (000) connects a caller to the police, ambulance, or fire brigade. When this emergency number is dialed and the call is answered, the caller must be ready to give his name, location, the telephone number calling from, the type of assistance needed. It must be noted that each state and territory has its own service provider for emergency assistance.

Where to go for help

Australia considers migrants as important part of society, so the government provides settlement services in three forms: Settlement Grants Program, Adult Migration English Program, and Translating and Interpreting Service. Aside from these, there are also services specifically for humanitarian entrants: Humanitarian Settlement Services, Complex Support Program, and Support for Unaccompanied Humanitarian Minors.

Migrants may also look for clubs and organisations that apply to their situation on the Yellow Pages. Each state and territory also have offices that deal with multicultural and migrant issues; there are national agencies that can provide assistance in times of urgency; and telephone counselling is available for those in need of specialist counselling services.

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National Visas offers Personalised Services to help you apply for a visa. National Visas has developed into a world leader in online immigration services. Our Migration Agents are registered to provide Australian immigration advice, as required by Australian law.

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