Working in Australia

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Working in Australia

To work in Australia you'll need a:

  • Australian Tax File Number (TFN)
  • Australian bank account (e.g - ANZ, Commonwealth, Westpac)
  • A working holiday visa
  • A good sense of humour

So long as you stick to the conditions of your visa, you can do any job you like in Australia. Minimum wage in Australia is an absolute dream. It is AU$15 per hour, but most fruit picking jobs pay AU$17- AU$21.

Appropriate taxes are paid on all earnings, usually at 13%. The rate will be determined by your background and the current working arrangements. These are collected by the farmer and submitted to the Australian Taxation Office. If you fail to provide a TFN you will be taxed at the highest rate of 49%. Working hostels will go through the paperwork with you to make sure you don’t get ripped off.

Fruit Picking

90% of travellers get their second-year working holiday visa by fruit-picking. You need to clock-up 88 days, all signed off by a farmer, to apply for a second-year working visa. It’s hard, physical work, but there can be a great sense of community: you’ll be working with other backpackers and locals. And you’ve all got one thing in common - you need the money.

The hours are long and hard, often working in the baking sun. An average week can be anything up to 10 hours a day, seven days a week. A lot of people can’t handle the heat/hard labour and quit after a day or two.

Fruit picking in Australia

Factory Work

This is another popular choice for backpackers - it’s not hard to find short-term, casual work on a production line or in a packing room. The work itself won’t be very stimulating, but you don’t need any experience or qualifications, and if you’re working with a good bunch of people it can be a laugh. You’ll find work through agencies, local newspapers or backpacker notice boards.

Ranch Work

Ranch work is a little bit niche and not all that easy to sort out for yourself. There is a demand for ‘jackeroos and jillaroos’ as they’re known, but it’s hard, skilled work and not for the absolute beginner. Companies such as Changing Worlds do offer supported work placements if you are not completely confident of finding a position by yourself. Otherwise, lots of cattle stations have diversified and offer backpackers the opportunity to get a taste of the real ‘Outback’ experience.

Check out this video of 'heli mustering' on a cattle ranch in the Outback:

Construction work

If you’re a dependable, hard worker with some construction experience, why not work on a building site? You’ll need a health and safety ‘White Card’, for which you’ll need to do a one-day course costing around AU$100. Any major city hosts this course. White Card holders can generally find well-paid work lasting anything from one day to several months - it’ll help if you have your own work boots. Approach labour hire companies or enquire at building sites.

Office Temping

Your best bet for finding work in larger towns/cities might be to sign-up to a temping agency. Businesses approach these agencies looking for temporary staff to work in call centres or offices for cold calling, data entry positions and administration. The agency then picks the most relevant people from its books and offers them the work. Make sure you ring your agency or pop in regularly – if you’re fresh in their minds and seem keen then you’re more likely to get work. You’ll know whether work like this suits you or not: the pay isn’t bad, and the hours are generally sociable (Monday to Friday, 9 to 5:30), but you might feel that you didn’t go travelling to sit behind a desk!

Bar Work or Waiter/ess

From hip bars in Sydney to tiny pubs in the Outback, there are plenty of jobs available for bar and waiting staff across Australia. Most will require you to have some experience – why not get a job in a UK pub before you go to learn the tricks of the trade? You’ll be much more employable if you know a Castlemaine from a Cosmopolitan.

Kings Cross, Sydney, is famous for its deluge of bars and pubs

You’ll also need a Responsible Service of Alcohol (RSA) certificate, which you can only get once you’ve arrived in Oz. This involves taking a one-day course (4 hours), which will teach you not to serve alcohol to toddlers or unconscious people, and then sitting a written exam about it. The course will set you back AU$70. You can’t get a job in a bar without the RSA (legally), so man-up , cough-up, and take the test - no one ever fails.

Work for Bed and Board

If you plan to stay in one place for a bit, a great way to cut down on your costs is to do a few hours work a day in exchange for somewhere to sleep and something to eat. Tasks can involve anything from manning the front desk to making the beds, but it’s always easy work (even if it means cleaning out the toilets) and you can live a pretty easy life.

You won’t make yourself rich this way, but it’s a good way of extending your trip without doing anything silly, like working hard or getting stressed and stuff like that.

Not every hostel will be up for this of course, but chances are that in any given town there will be somewhere that offers its longer term residents some sort of deal of this nature. All you need to do is find yourself somewhere to stay, then ask around a bit - starting at the front desk of your hostel is a good place to start.