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Australian Facts

New South Wales
www.visitnsw.com

Capital: Sydney
State population about: 7.5 million
Climate: Jan: 66–80 °F, 19–27 °C
July: 46–60 °F, 8–16 °C

Almost one in four Australians were born overseas. Summer in Australia runs from December to February; autumn from March to May; winter from June to August; and spring from September to November.

CHECKLIST OF THINGS TO DO BEFORE LEAVING HOME

  • Apply for a passport, and make sure the passport is valid for all of the time you plan to be abroad.
  • Make contact with the Australian educational institution where you plan to study to confirm your enrolment and start date and check if your institution or college has an airport greeting service.
  • Arrange for a student visa.
  • Arrange for immunisations and medications from your doctor.
  • Apply for a credit card and/or arrange for sufficient funds to be available for you to access in Australia.
  • Confirm overseas access to your funds with your bank.
  • Make travel arrangements, including travel insurance.
  • Advise your educational institution of your travel details.
  • Arrange accommodation for at least your first week in Australia, if not longer.
  • Arrange transport from the airport to your accommodation, and change enough currency into Australian dollars before you leave, so you can catch a taxi or make a phone call in the event of an emergency.
  • When packing your bags, make sure you include the name and contact details of your institution’s international representative.

BRINGING YOUR COMPUTER

To most of us these days, our computer is essential. To ensure you can bring your computer with you to Australia, you need to be aware of Australian customs regulations. If you are undertaking a short course,and not intending to stay in Australia for more than 12 months, the Australian Customs Service will allow you to temporarily import your computer without paying duty or the Goods and Services Tax (GST.)

In some cases, this may also apply if your stay is less than 24 months, however, this depends on a number of conditions, including the value of your computer.

If you are staying in Australia for more than 24 months, and you have owned and used your computer for more than 12 months prior to arriving in Australia, you will also be allowed to bring it in, tax free. However, as you may be required to provide proof of the date of purchase and the purchase price, you should bring a receipt.

If the computer cost more than A$400 and is less than 12 months old, or if you do not have a receipt, you may be required to pay 10% GST.

To make sure you are fully aware of what you can and cannot bring into Australia, visit www.customs.gov.au and follow the “Travellers” link from the main menu.

ACCOMMODATION UPON ARRIVAL/DURING YOUR STAY

VET or ELICOS students, need to arrange temporary or permanent accommodation in Australia and this may be done by booking temporary accommodation whilst you look for something more permanent.

We may be able to help you, or you can look up hostels and book online at www.yha.com.au.

There are a number of internet booking services for last-minute bookings at hotels and short-stay apartments. These include www.getaroom.com.au and www.wotif.com, however, hotels can be expensive and in major cities commence upwards of A$150 per night.

Student accommodation can be arranged through:

Oz Homestay

(02) 8765 9063

Global Experience Student Housing

(02) 9264 4022

Global Experience Emergency Number

0403 008 448

IGLU Chatswood

(02) 8024 8610

IGLU Central

(02) 8024 8600

Here’s a guide to what to expect from various accommodation options. Figures quoted are for accommodation only. Other living costs are additional (except homestay, which usually includes some meals).

Homestay
(about A$180 to $290 a week)
Hostels, backpackers and guest houses (about A$90 to $160 a week)
Shared accommodation (about A$100 to $250 a week) and
Rental accommodation
(about A$250 to $500 a week).

CLOTHING AND SEASONAL CONSIDERATIONS

Australian students dress informally. In general, comfort is the paramount consideration and you will find most of your peers at the institute will be wearing jeans, shorts, skirts, dresses and t-shirts or jumpers in a social environment. The Sydney Beauty & Dermal Institute is compulsory during class times.

For most of the country the hottest months are January and February. If you arrive in June or July, the coldest months of the Australian year, you may need to bring winter clothes with you.

FINANCIAL MATTERS

Australian currency
Australian currency is denominated as:
Notes: $5, $10, $20, $50, $100
Coins: 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c, $1, $2

There are no 1c or 2c coins; these were taken out of circulation some years ago.

Items in Australia are priced down to single cents (for example $2.99) but when you pay, the total will be rounded up or down to the nearest five cents. Thus $2.99 becomes $3.00, and $12.42 becomes $12.40.

As with all currencies, the Australian dollar exchange rate can vary over short periods of time. You can find the current exchange rate at www.xe.com

Setting up a bank account

To open a bank account in Australia, you must show several pieces of personal identification, each of which is allotted a certain number of ‘points’.

You will need 100 points of identification to establish your identity as the person who will be named on the account. Your passport and proof of your arrival date in Australia will be acceptable as 100 points if you open an account within six weeks of arrival in Australia. After this time, you will need additional documentation.

To open an account you’ll also need a minimum deposit (this can be as little as A$10, depending on the bank or financial institution).

As a student, you may be able to open an account with special student benefits.

Many banks have ‘student accounts’ that offer a regular savings account with zero or minimal fees for transactions. To qualify for such an account, you will need your student ID card from your institution to prove you are a student. For a comparison of accounts in banks throughout Australia, visit www.banks.com.au

Most bank branches are open Monday through Thursday from 9.00 am to 4.00 pm and on Fridays from 9.00 am to 5.00 pm (except public holidays). Some branches have extended trading hours during the week and may be open Saturdays Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) are available 24 hours a day.

Credit cards
The most widely accepted credit cards in Australia are MasterCard and Visa. Some retailers may impose a surcharge on purchases made with a credit card, with many charging more for the use of cards such as American Express.

Most businesses accept credit cards as payment, although many set a minimum credit card purchase of A$10 or $15. It’s best to check with your credit card company about any fees they may charge for foreign transactions.

BUYING FOOD AND SUPPLIES

Most Australian cities and towns have shopping centres with big chain stores such as Kmart and Target, and department stores such as Myer and David Jones.

The suburbs of major cities have shopping malls and strip shopping precincts, with stores stocking a wide variety of clothing, electronics and home goods, as well as the major grocery chains Coles, Woolworths, IGA and Aldi.

As Australia is a very multicultural country and a melting pot of different nationalities, you’ll find a wide variety of international foods in most Australian supermarkets.

In addition, there are a large number of smaller food shops that specialise in the food of a particular nationality or ethnic group, while an abundance of take-away food outlets and restaurants offer you the chance to have a “taste of home” – almost no matter where home may be for you.

Store trading hours in Australia are regulated by individual states and territories. As a general rule, business hours for shops in Australia are Monday through Friday, 8.00 am to 5.30 pm, usually staying open until 9.00 pm on Thursdays or Fridays for late night shopping.

On weekends, store trading hours vary, although generally open from 10.00am to 4.00pm. Larger shopping precincts stay open later.

POWER SUPPLY, ADAPTORS AND CONVERTERS

The standard voltage for electrical items in Australia is 240 volts.

Most laptop computers and chargers for cell phones, MP3 players and digital cameras automatically adjust to 110 or 240 volts, but some electronic products may require a transformer as well as a converter.

Electrical plugs in Australia have three flat pins, one of which is an earth pin. You may need to buy an adaptor or have plugs changed when you arrive in Australia.

It is also important for European learners to note the power points in Australia if not turned off at the point remain live, so you must turn them off when not in use.

Making calls

To make an international call: From Australia dial the international access code (0011) + the country code + the area code (if required) + the phone number.

To make a domestic call: For domestic telephone calls (within Australia), dial the area code (if you are calling a different area, such as a different state) + the phone number.

The area code for New South Wales is 02

AUSTRALIAN CULTURE

Addressing people
Australians usually have a first or given name and a family name or surname. People of your own age or younger are usually addressed by their first names.

When speaking to people older than you, call them “Mr”, “Mrs” or “Ms”, followed by their surname until you know them well, or they ask you to address them by their first name.

Greetings
Formal greetings are -“good morning”, “good afternoon” and “good evening” Informal greetings are “hello”,“hi” or “G’day”.
Please and thank you – say “please” when requesting something and “thank you” when anything is provided to you.

Personal space
Australia is a big country with a small population, so everyone is used to having plenty of personal space. It’s unusual to be in a situation where you must stand shoulder to- shoulder with others. Try to leave at least an arm’s length of space between you and another person.

Dress
Australians tend to dress casually. If more formal dress is required, you will usually be told. You should feel free to dress in the way you feel is culturally appropriate for you.

Queuing
People queue when they are waiting in turn for something (such as a taxi, bus, at a ticket counter, or for a cashier). Never push ahead of others or ‘jump the queue’ – it won’t be tolerated.

Punctuality
If you can’t keep an appointment or invitation, or are running late, always call to explain before the event.

Smoking
Is banned in government buildings, on public transport (including domestic and many international flights), theatres, shopping centres and many indoor and even outdoor public meeting places. Many restaurants may not allow smoking by law. Always ask for permission to smoke.

Equality
All individuals have equal social, legal and political rights in Australia and should be treated equally.

Spitting
Spitting in public is illegal and can cause offence.

Littering
Australia is environmentally conscious and littering is illegal. If you litter, you may be fined.

GETTING AROUND

PUBLIC TRANSPORT
There are many transport options in Australia that will get you around town or across the country. Australia’s public transport system is comparably safe and affordable – and, in some cases, it’s even free.

Depending on where you live it can include trains, buses, trams and ferries.

Sydney: For transport information including trip planning on buses, ferries and trains, visit www.131500.com.au

Many public transport services in Australia are ‘pre-paid’, which means you need a ticket before you board the bus, train, tram or ferry. You can buy tickets at train stations and ferry wharves, as well as news agencies and many convenience stores.

TRAVELLING INTERSTATE
Australia is a big country. International visitors often think they can get on a bus to get from Sydney to Melbourne. While that’s true, the trip will take about 13 hours. Most people prefer to fly.

On domestic routes, Australia has two major airlines, several low cost airlines, and a number of regional carriers. You can book tickets through a travel agent, over the phone or through the Internet.

The two major airlines: Qantas – www.qantas.com.au
Virgin Australia – www.virginaustralia.com – link all the capital cities and many regional centres.

Jetstar – www.jetstar.com.au – is the low-cost airline affiliated with Qantas.

Train and bus services are good options for intercity or regional travel. For a comprehensive list of train services, fares and timetables, visit www.railaustralia.com.au and for bus operations, visit www.buslines.com.au

OWN TRANSPORT
If you are staying in Australia for any length of time you may decide to purchase your own transport. A reasonable bicycle can be bought for about A$200 and a good second hand car can be purchased for less than A$10,000.

If you buy a car, you are responsible for registration, repairs, fuel, insurance and service costs. All motor vehicles must be registered before being driven on the road.

You must register it in your name and provide the state or territory car registration board with your driver’s licence details and your residential address in Australia.

Registration and licencing information is available at www.australia.gov.au – follow the link to registration and licences, under transport, from the “Topics” menu. Note: It is compulsory to buy third party insurance which will cover the damage to other cars or property should you have an accident.

If you plan to be in Australia for a period of no more than three months, you can drive with an international driver’s licence or a valid overseas driver’s licence. You must carry a translation if the document is not in English.

If you plan to stay longer than three months, you will need to obtain an Australian driver’s licence by taking a test on highway codes and regulations. Contact the roads and traffic authority in your state or territory for more information on Australian driver’s licences and road rules.

Important things to keep in mind while driving:

  • Australians drive on the left side of the road.
  • Wearing a seat belt is mandatory in Australia. This applies to the back seat too. If a seat belt is fitted, you must wear it.
  • The driving age in Australia is 18, though in some states you can drive unaccompanied at 17. Check with the roads and traffic authority in your state to learn more.
  • All states have strict blood alcohol limit laws of 0.05% and there are serious penalties including jail time. If you drink, don’t drive!
  • The maximum speed limit in residential areas is 50 km per hour and 110 km
  • per hour on highways, unless signs indicate otherwise. Police use radar speed cameras, and fines are steep.
  • You must have a licence to ride a motorcycle and you must be over 18. Helmets are mandatory.
  • The use of mobile (cell) phones while driving is against the law in Australia, unless you use hands free technology. Fines are costly.

Taxis
Metered taxis operate in all major cities and towns. You can call a taxi and book your journey by phone, over the Internet or by waiting at taxi ranks that are located at transport terminals, main hotels and shopping centres. You can often hail a taxi on the street.

A taxi is vacant if the light on the roof sign is on. There is a minimum charge on hiring and then a charge per kilometre travelled.

MEDICAL AND DENTAL SERVICES

Australian doctors are highly skilled and well educated, and you’ll receive excellent care in a clean and sanitary environment. Unless you are in a life threatening situation, you should always first consult a medical practitioner at either a medical centre or private surgery.

Hospital emergency rooms are solely for life threatening and emergency situations.

You can visit most medical centres without an appointment, however private medical general practitioners (GPs) usually require an appointment.

A search for Medical Practitioners or Medical Centres in the Yellow Pages – www.yellowpages.com.au – will help you locate those in your local area.

The cost of visiting a doctor will usually be partly covered by OSHC. However, you may have to pay the fee at the time of your doctor’s appointment and later seek reimbursement from your OSHC provider.

PRIVATE PRACTICE
You must book an appointment in advance. You will rarely get to see a doctor on the same day you call. In some areas of the country you may have to wait up to two weeks.

MEDICAL CENTRE OR GP SUPER CLINIC
No appointment is necessary. You can walk into a medical centre at any time, put your name on the list and you will be called when a doctor is ready for you. This may be a few hours.

DOCTOR’s FEES
You must pay to see the GP, about A$50–$100 for a 20 minute consultation.

Some medical centres offer “Bulk Billing”, which means you will only need to pay the difference between the fee and the OSHC refund.

THE DENTIST
Dentists are listed in the Yellow Pages. OSHC may cover part of the costs of dentists’ fees. It is important to read the OSHC policy and know what kinds of dental procedures are covered.

WORK RIGHTS

PERMISSION TO WORK
If you have a student visa, you will be eligible to work while in Australia. Please remember your right to work is tied to several conditions. Some of these include:

  • Not starting to work until you have commenced your course of study.
  • Working a maximum of 40 hours per fortnight during the term and unlimited hours when your course is not in session.
  • You may only work if the Australian Government Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) considers your course to be ‘in session’ – that means, for the duration of the advertised semesters (including periods when exams are being held).

For a full list of mandatory and discretionary student visa conditions, visit www.immi.gov.au/students

TYPES OF WORK
International students often find work in retail, hospitality and administration. The wage you receive will depend on the kind of work you do and your age. You may be paid more for working on Sundays or public holidays. Tutoring younger students in the field you are studying, or in your native language, is also a good way to earn money.

Student tutors can earn about A$40 an hour.

FINDING WORK
There are many different ways to find a job in Australia:

Online
The majority of jobs vacant in Australia are advertised online. Visit:
www.seek.com.au
www.mycareer.com.au
www.careerone.com.au
www.studyandwork.com.au
www.indeed.com.au

Newspapers
Visit www.newspapers.com.au to see a listing of the major Australian newspapers.
You can select your state or territory to browse a database of Australian regional newspapers. Local newspapers have a ‘help wanted’ or jobs section.

The Australian Government also has a listing of job boards in Australia at www.jobsearch.gov.au/findajob

Taxes
Anyone who works in Australia has to pay taxes and the amount of tax you pay depends on how much you earn.

The Australian tax system is administered through the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).

You are obliged to obtain a Tax File Number (TFN) to be able to work in Australia.

ATFN is your unique reference number to the Australian tax system. When you start work, your employer will ask you to complete a TFN declaration form.

If you do not provide a TFN, your employment will be taxed at the highest personal income tax rate, which means less money in your net wages each week. For more information, go to www.ato.gov.au

Pay
You are entitled to receive at least the basic rate of pay that applies to your age and job classification. Many employers will pay you above the basic rate. You should also note the following:

  • Your employer must pay you the correct rate of pay for all the hours you attend work, unless otherwise specified/negotiated.
  • They must pay you on a regular basis – casual and part-time workers are often paid either weekly or every two weeks for work they have already undertaken. That is, you are paid in arrears, not in advance.
  • Your pay slip must include your employer’s information including their Australian Business Number (ABN), the number of hours you are being paid for, the amount you have paid in income tax, your superannuation payment and how much you have actually been paid.
  • You should not have money taken out of your pay to cover things such as a customer leaving without paying.
  • You should be paid for ‘trial work’.
  • If you work on a public holiday, you may be entitled to be paid more for that day.

You might also get a higher rate of pay if you work on the weekends. If you need help with an employment query or dispute, you can contact the Fair Work Ombudsman at www.fairwork.gov.au or on 13 13 94.

SAFETY

Whilst Australia is generally a safe and peaceful place to live, everyone still needs to take precautions just like they would at home.

Our human population is generally very accepting of other cultures and are very inviting, things do go wrong from time to time and don’t forget wildlife is not always warm and cuddly (after all our snakes are some of the most venomous in the world).

Personal Safety – General
So we need to be aware of our surroundings and conscious of the happenings around us.

  • At night, think about how you will get home (consider booking a taxi)
  • Try to travel with a friend
  • Keep an eye on your drinks and don’t continue with a drink you did not see served or have lost sight off
  • Be discrete with your phone, money, wallet, etc
  • Never hitch hike or get a lift with strangers
  • Don’t go poking snakes and spiders
  • Stay away from dark paths and walkways
  • Don’t drink alcohol and drive or get in a car with someone driving who has

Personal Safety – at home
Here are some tips to help keep you safe at home:

  • Lock your doors and windows when you go out. It is a good idea to have them locked when you are at home as well.
  • Do not let a stranger into your house. Check the credentials of tradespeople and salespeople.
  • Be careful about the information you give to strangers over the phone or through social networking internet sites. If you are not at home or go on holidays, do not make this information available to strangers.
  • Maintain a working smoke alarm in your home. Check the battery regularly.
  • If you come home to find evidence of a break-in (such as a broken window or door lock), do not go inside. Call the police from a safe location outside.
  • Remember to call 000 in the event of an emergency. If you do not speak English well, say your language and an interpreter will assist you with your call.

Personal Safety – at your education institution
When you are at your place of learning:

  • Make sure that you are aware of the security and emergency arrangements at your education institution and your local area. Your institution will be able to provide you with this information either before you arrive or on arrival.
  • Many institutions offer security escort service for students for out of office hours or a shuttle bus service.
  • If you drive to your institution, find the most suitable well lit car park for your study area.
  • Find the safest, best lit path to use when walking to and from your study area at night.
  • When leaving your study area at night, where possible try to walk with a friend or a group.

Water Safety
Take care when visiting Australian beaches and places to swim:

  • Only swim at a beach that is patrolled by Lifeguards and only swim between the red and yellow flags
  • Be careful of strong currents or rips. If you are not sure, ask a Lifeguard.

For more information on water safety, please see the www.royallifesaving.com.au.

Sun Safety
The Australian outdoors is wonderful but you need to take care when going outdoors, make sure:

  • You follow proper skin safety to help protect you against sunburn:
  • Wear sun protection such as SPF 30+ water resistant sun cream, hats and UV protective sunglasses.
  • Avoid long time periods in the sun between 10am and 3pm and seek shade.

For more information about sun protection, please visit the Cancer Council website www.cancercouncil.com.au.

Public Transport Safety
Travelling on public transport should be a safe and comfortable experience.

Numerous security measures have been adopted to maximise the safety of travellers including security officers and guards, help points, good lighting and security cameras.

  • Avoid isolated bus stops.
  • Check timetables to avoid long waits.
  • Train carriages nearest the driver are always left open and lit.
  • Try not to become isolated. If you find yourself left in a carriage on your own or with only one other person you may feel more comfortable if you move to another carriage.

Taxis
Taxis are a safe method of public transport. To increase your confidence when travelling by taxi, consider the following suggestions:

  • Sit wherever you feel most comfortable. This may mean travelling in the back seat of the taxi.
  • Specify to the driver the route you wish to take to reach your destination. Speak up if the driver takes a different route to the one you have specified or are familiar with.

If you do not want your home address known, stop a few houses away from your destination.

Dealing with confrontation
If you encounter a verbal or physical confrontation:

  • It is not worth placing your personal safety at risk for the sake of property that can generally be replaced.
  • Report any incident to police as soon as you can.

Remember that in emergency situations you can call 000 and ask for police or ambulance assistance.

Emergencies
Australia’s emergency phone number is 000 (zero, zero, zero).

The following is a checklist that can be used to decide whether you should call 000:

  • Is someone seriously injured or in need of urgent medical help?
  • Is your life or property being threatened?
  • Have you just witnessed a serious accident or crime?
  • If you answer YES call Triple Zero (000). Triple Zero calls are free – even from a mobile phone.
  • Do not hang up the telephone if you do not speak English well – say your language and an interpreter will assist you with your call.

112 is the GSM international standard emergency number for digital mobile phones. 112 can be dialled anywhere in the world with GSM coverage and is automatically translated to that country’s emergency number. For more information about personal safety, please visit the Study in Australia website www.studyinaustralia.gov.au.

IMPORTANT CONTACT NUMBERS

COMPANY NAME

TELEPHONE

Sydney Beauty and Dermal Institute

9326 2211

Police Emergency (Normal Phone)

000

Police Emergency (Mobile Phone)

112

Police Assistance

131 444

Ambulance

000

Fire

000

Poisons Information Service

131 126

Bupa Overseas Students Health Cover

1800 888 942

Oz Homestay

8765 9063

Global Experience Student Housing

9264 4022

Global Experience Emergency Number

0403 008 448

Dept of Immigration and Border Protection

131 881

Transport NSW (Buses, Ferries and Trains)

8202 2200

Taxi

13 19 24

Tourism and Events information

9931 1111

LOCAL SHOPPING

Eastpoint Shopping Centre
235-287 New South Head Road, Edgecliff 2027.

COMPANY NAME

TELEPHONE

LEVEL

STORE

Attitude on Hair

9328 7153

Rail

27

Bar Latte

9328 0800

Rail

29

Baristas Coffee Aust Pty Ltd

9328 0800

4

15

Blooms Chemist

9328 1316

4

11

Café Mia

9363 5571

4

9

Chinese Supermarket

9328 1273

4

8

Coin Laundromat

9328 6055

Rail

35

Coles Supermarket

9328 7978

4

22/24

Davian Baker

9363 1912

4

3, 4

Dentist

9328 0399

Rail

28

Dr John Baffsky

9363 5817

Rail

32

Eastpoint Healthfood

9363 5598

4

6

Eastpoint Podiatry

9362 4111

Rail

31

Eastpoint Seafoods

9328 1300

4

17

Eastpoint Shoe Repairs

9362 4454

4

1

Edgecliff Fine Dental

9327 3678

Rail

30

Edgecliff Pet Shop

9328 3608

Rail

33/34

Fancy nails

9328 1406

Rail

26

Flower Stall

0430 757 363

4

K1

Harris Farm Markets

9328 7782

4

5

Lawrence Dry Cleaners

9328 6852

4

14

Liquorland Edgecliff

9993 9621

4

2

Newsagent

9363 1101

4

10

Peters Meats

9327 7762

4

19/20

Sushi to Go

9362 3223

4

16

Unique Massage

9328 2714

4

12

eastpoint

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