Laid-back, easy-going but upfront and hardworking: the people of Australia are culturally diverse and welcoming. This, combined with the country’s growing economy, engaging new opportunities and healthy, outgoing lifestyle, makes Australia an increasingly appealing place to start a new life.
Schools in Australia
Australia can be an expensive country to study in, especially for international students. However, the quality of education is consistently world-class – with the UN’s education index rating it second in the world.
Schooling in Australia starts with a kindergarten or preparatory year at around age five to six, varying from state to state, followed by 12 years of primary and secondary school. In the final year of secondary education, pupils can study for a government-endorsed certificate, which also varies from state to state, but is recognised by all Australian universities and many international higher-education institutions. The school year runs from late January or February until mid-December and most schools have three or four terms per year. The longer holiday period is around the Christmas holidays. Students attend school from Monday to Friday and hours are usually from 8/9 am to 2/3 pm.
Following years of mandatory study, a student can choose to pursue higher education if they wish. Higher education in Australia is comprised of technical colleges and universities that offer undergraduate and postgraduate degrees.
If relocating in the middle of the school year, students may need to repeat the year to fall in with the correct year group. It is advised to allow children to start school in January with their new classmates.
There are also scholarships available for international and expat students in private schools from secondary school and university level. Scholarships are available for state schools as well as the Public Education Foundation for all levels: primary, secondary and tertiary. Different states may have different grants and scholarship options, so it is worth looking at state-specific options.
Australia has an excellent healthcare system. With over 1,300 hospitals across the country, roughly half are public, the other half private. Both types receive funding from the central Australian government, territory or state government, private health insurance and from the pockets of individual patients. With a 330,000-strong workforce, this network of facilities delivers everything from emergency and critical care through to inpatient clinics.
Medicare is the government-funded system and everyone with a current Medicare number can be admitted free-of-charge as a patient in a public hospital for treatment deemed necessary. Medicare also pays for part, or all, of the costs of seeing a General Practitioner and specialist, as well as the cost of some approved medications.
There are also a number of privately run hospitals and centres that do not receive the same funding from Medicare and therefore charge patients directly. Taking out private health insurance can help cover some of the costs of being treated in these private facilities.
Newcomers will need to prove an adequate level of private health care insurance to obtain a visa, just to enter the country. Once inside Australia’s borders, those staying to live and work can apply for what is known as Medicare. This is a state-funded scheme, paid for through taxes and other levies. Newcomers intending to stay for an extended period need to start the application process within a week of arrival, and because it can take up to a month to obtain cover, private insurance to cover the interim is a must.
Cost of living in Australia
The average cost of living in Australia is typically higher than most people expect. While most cities are still relatively cheaper than places like New York City, London or Paris, the country’s vast expanses and overall remoteness make it an expensive place to live.
Australia currently has the 16th highest cost of living in the world. While life in Australia comes with a price tag, Australian cities retain a great quality of life for their occupants. With expatriate hubs like Hong Kong, Singapore and Tokyo all sitting in the top ten, the country is becoming more appealing than ever.
The job market
Australia has one of the largest immigration programmes in the world, with most migrants coming from skilled stream, allowing skilled foreign workers to live and work in Australia.
As such, working in Australia is possible for an expat with the right visa and paperwork. If you are wondering how to apply for a job, read more here.
If you are entering Australia on a permanent visa, you may drive on your current overseas license for a maximum of three months after arriving in the country. If you wish to continue driving after the initial three months, an Australian-issued driver’s licence must be obtained in the state or territory in which you are residing. Visitor or temporary visa holders need to have an international driver’s licence when they arrive.
Filipino applicants for an Australian-issued driver’s license are required to undertake a theory test and a practical driving test. If you pass both the theory and practical tests, your overseas licence will be converted, based on years of driving experience and age.
A new way of life in Australia
There are many reasons why people choose to move to Australia. The country is frequently featured in the annual Social Progress Index which gauges “quality of life” in various countries; Australia currently sits in eighth place. Furthermore, the combination of natural wonders, big city comforts, perfect weather and laid-back lifestyle make it a stellar place to live.