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The WiZard OF oZ!
Temping Work in Australia
Member Name: thedevilinme
Temping Work in Australia
Advantages: Sun, sea and beer!
Disadvantages: Original cash layout
As Marilyn Munro once purred to an eager camera lens: "Ever notice that 'what the hell' is always the right decision?" Well, with the news that around half-a-million public servants will eventually be downsized over the next four years to bring down the deficit and so half-a-million private sector workers sure to follow its time to get out of town if you can afford it or you are young and adventurous enough to try and enjoy life whilst we all flounder back home. Their minimum wage is one of the highest in the world and their unemployment rate is at its lowest for 30 years.
Britain is broken and with 5 million welfare dependent people of working age here and immigrants pouring in everyday to take your job, if you're not working now or just graduated then there won't be much chance of decent work before 2015. Trust me, any menial work you can scrape here through a temp agency you can get there with bells on in the sunshine. Australia is a great place for the young and sun lovers and with low crime due to its rather selective immigration policy and generous welfare and student grant system there no reason not to kick up in paradise.
The deal for Brits is if you are under 26 and a British citizen then Australia will almost certainly grant you a one year work permit, the best year of your life if you grab the opportunity with both hands. There are restrictions like criminal records and mental health issues and no kids etc but if you tick all the right boxes you're in. If you are between 26 and 30 you can still apply although the chances are reduced of getting the rubber stamp, this aimed more at the '18-year-old than the 31-year-old', as the Aussie High Commission word it on their website. If you achieve three or more taxed work months there and want to stay longer you can apply for another 12 months extension or the right to go for the full five year work permit leading to the citizenship option. They are far more selective when it comes to long term workers though and you will need a profession. Or you can just overstay and work below the radar, the big Aussie cities like any other in the world very keen on the black market to do the worse jobs and keep them functioning. Pom's can't sign on over there with the working holiday visa so we tend to come back when we are broke.
My experience of Australia was in the 1990s when the "Year Out" was a must for students when they graduated, no tuition fees back then and still a decent grant on offer. I wasn't personally a student but always a dreamer looking for adventure. The same students would protest about low student grants all through the 1990s before fees but the same middle-class guys with the placards would be the ones who had the money to enjoy the year out, a non stop full moon party in Thailand their reward from mummy and daddy for graduating. For me I wasn't well-healed enough to even contemplate uni in the late 1980s and so worked for three years in a warehouse driving a forklift truck to pay my passage out there. The airfare was about £700 return then and you had to show the Aussie immigration guys a bank statement with at least £1500 in it to prove you could sustain yourself. I borrowed £500 from my mum to get it up to the requisite on a printed statement and then withdrew and returned it soon after and so the subterfuge complete. If you are reasonably confident you will find work pretty quickly then you can survive on £750 for the firs two months, which you will sit on the beach for anyway. It is a working holiday after all!
Give yourself time for your working visa to arrive and you will have to pay for it. It was £70 in the mid-nineties but has shot up to £200 in 2010, although still a good investment. If you're willing to work then they are willing to let you stay is Australia's attitude. Oh how we need that policy in Britain with other Commonwealth Countries coming here! If you can chop that £200 off your return flight by going cheap with two or three stop overs you won't notice the hit. Direct flights to OZ tend to be £300 more from London than stopovers and so worth shopping around. If you want to stop off before and after OZ there are some great around the world deals and interesting routes. Most go via Singapore/Asia whilst Air New Zealand does one via Los Angeles and then the beautiful Cook Islands. I flew with Quantus (who were excellent) and we got two free internal flights into the bargain which were very useful as the gaps between the cities are huge, of course.
SO once you arrive Down Under with your corked hat and white skin its time to test your shades and sun cream strength. Naïve old me thought I could survive in the midday sun on one of Melbourne's beaches with a mere factor 8 - an hour later I was covered in sun blisters on my face and hands. The sun down there is very strong and hot, even at 6 am. Slip slap slop guys and be prepared to burn.
Melbourne was my early base to look for work although I did spend a lot of time watching sport (the Ashes and the tennis were in town) and sitting on the beach, what people do in Australia, education and worry very low on the menu in the worlds least pretentious country, one of it best attractions. The class system just doesn't exist there and anyone who flaunts their money are usually foreign.
For me Melbourne is the best city in Australia for work because it has the more sophisticated bits yet retains the beach and sun lifestyle. You can hop on a rickety tram after work in your flip flops in the city centre and be at the NCG or Flinders Park twenty minutes later fully relaxed. The beach is there and the British hoards of job seeking students Sydney is swamped by are not.
Before you can start work you must get a tax number. You can queue up for them or apply on line. If you don't get one you automatically pay 50% tax in your pay-packet.
The Aussie minimum wage is $570 Aussie dollars per week, or $15 per hour, about £300 per week. As I said before, its one of the highest in the world and their unemployment is at a 30-year low, under 5%, perhaps why we have to pay $200 to go there.
Melbourne is like a huge Brighton with skyscrapers, its functional beach named after the British seaside town. It's cosmopolitan with its big and sexy Greek population although the nightlife is patchy, pubs literally closing in Australia if there are not enough punters.
Work wise it's stuffed with employment agencies, from Manpower to Randstand, plenty of admin and catering jobs for the short term or longer positions if you want to stay out there longer. Aussies are amiable and laid back in interviews and seeking work so the classier Brit's are highly employable. If you are chasing city and office life then you will have to lug around your leather shoes and trousers and nice skirt for the girls. They tend not to stay pressed in your rucksack or your trendy little suitcase with wheels that are all the rage now.
Backpackers are the cheapest accommodation when you work and travel and its best to pay weekly or even monthly if you are basing yourself in a city to find work. Most Brit's base themselves in Sydney because of its postcard image and reputation but Melbourne has the better options and style of living. I personally didn't work in Melbourne and headed for Sydney with the rest of the poms on Bus Australia after 4 weeks R&R in the Victorian capital.
Sydney is the place for the Brits, the native tongue very common there, almost annoying as you came to the other side of the world to avoid a temp agency full of Londoners. Backpackers base themselves here to work, the hub city to launch your trips around Australia, earn your money for two weeks leading up to their winter in June-July and then launch yourself into the tropical Northern states to warm up. Southern state winters in Australia can be rainy affairs and with dreadful TV it feels like your back home in Northampton. Everywhere in the world is crap when it rains.
I worked in Sydney for 4 months in two batches of 4 weeks, mostly being sent on temp jobs around the city, including a post room for a bank and some hotel work. You can also work your keep in your backpackers for free rent and food etc. Backpackers are the way to go as they are set up specifically for travellers and although dorm accommodation the vibe is great and the crowd eclectic...students and career breakers so mostly brains and some brawn. Sydney central hostels can be in colourful places, none more so than Kings Cross, the Soho of the city. These hostels tend to reflect the neighbourhood and house the party goers and locals without regular accommodation - who may or may not be working. I based myself in Glebe, which is a very Bohemian and relaxed area of the suburbs that's only a couple of miles from the business centre.
As English and bustling the city is the harbour area and beaches are amazing, and if you are taking the ferry to work it's an exhilarating experience as the green ferry boats honk and growl their way past the cruise ships before they roll and pitch on their bow waves. If you're working at Manley Beach the ferry passes the main harbour entrance to the Pacific Ocean and the waves really do roll the ferries around. The water is also full of sharks, great Whites too, all the little coves and inlets in the giant harbour bowl protected by shark nets.
It's bulging with work right now Down Under and if you actually want to save some money then you can build up a nice pile here. If you're prepared to do the hours you can make $500 Oz per week. It's also the time to think about apartment or flat rental to get more space to yourself, working meaning routines and relaxing after a long day in the office or bar etc. I'm sure there's tons of industrial work on offer but driving a forklift or working in a factory is perhaps not really what you're looking for in an Aussie summer. I stayed in a flat in the superb of Bondi Beach and split the rent with a young couple as we worked in the city, the metro train taking us over the Sydney Harbour Bridge every morning, spectacular stuff. There really is no other city like Sydney for commuting, only Vancouver coming close in my mind.
The exodus north begins around May-June for travellers and Brisbane the next big city up the coast, even in the winter months pleasantly warm in the day although a nip at night. It's not the sexiest city in Australia but I had a month there in June and enjoyed the peaceful YHA (the more formal hostels) and met a lovely Italian girl. The freakiest thing was my dorm room window had a tree outside that was also the local hang out (and I mean that literally) for the fruit bat (flying foxes) community, who would squeak and natter away all night pulling faces at me and then mockingly sleeping all day.
I didn't work in Brisbane but there to look at the possibility of agricultural work in the surrounding state to get the sun on my back. All the way up the east coast there's beach resorts and bar work opportunities but farm work seems to be the main pull in this area. There's nothing glamorous with fruit picking, why Brits won't do it in England, backbreaking work, why the Empire expanded so quickly and with this type of slave labour on offer. I picked Zucchinis and Apples in Queensland and I didn't last very long, tough graft indeed. The worse bit is not the sun or the bending but the bugs and snakes. Flies are everywhere in rural Australia. In the cane fields of Northern Queensland you have to wear serious protection to protect yourself from venomous snakes and constant bug bites and its hot and humid work. Most of you who take the work visa there will contemplate transient farm work but let me tell you its hard graft and the accommodation mostly caravans or cheap hostels. I recall a really bad fire there in the wine region about ten years ago that killed a few backpackers. You go to these regions purely to work and drink hard with a few barbeques and log fire chat with your fellow workers, not to party. In fact the holiday visas in most western countries are about finding farm workers.
Once you're in Queensland its Barrier Reef experience time on your trip and maybe some bungee jump or extreme white water rafting to go with, Innisfal up in the rainforest very good for that. Townsville and Cairns are the next two towns on the coast and the launch resorts for the Reef. There's nothing else but tourism and farm work after Brisbane if the truth be told. Some people go north from Cairns into the hardcore and stunning wilderness tropics of the Cape of Tribulation and then on to Darwin but most head out to Ayres Rock in the equally amazing Red Centre. The further past Brisbane you go the less chance of work, even for Aussie, the South East Asian immigrant doing a lot of the mining and farm work here.
I didn't go to Perth and the West Coast as it's literally thousands of miles away and so like going to another continent. I did Ayres Rock and then bombed back to Adelaide to pick up work there. Adelaide is a quiet place in its own way with its old empire feel mixing with modern buildings giving it a tranquil appeal, books over sport here. The nice relaxed vibe makes you want to work there but also make you feel like you are away from the action of Melbourne and Sydney. Its again blitz the agency time and with its stunning white beaches and colourful nature and wildlife you really are in Australia here. They had a cool comedy festival when I was there and it added to the vibe of the laid back fun place. I worked in another office here although it was routine work and so got boring, especially as it was 90% degrees outside.
Well, that was my 1990s experience of Oz although I somehow feel it hasn't changed that much, very few Nobel Prize winners coming from south of the equator but the team well clear of the medals table in the Commonwealth Games. But as I said they are non- pretentious and the lifestyle as easy as smoking a cigar in a high chair in the bar. Just get your ass out there if you have the money or max your credit card out to get some. You will regret not travelling when the time was right when you hit 40 and travel always broadens the mind, and it's great for your CV.
Summary: Why not?