If you're a new international student in Australia and finding it a little overwhelming to settle in, here's the perfect guide for you to ease into your new life.
When my flight first touched down at Melbourne Airport, colloquially known as Tullamarine Airport, I was excited and running high on all kinds of emotions. Never had I ever lifted a finger for any work in my homeland before as I had never lived away from my parents, who cared for everything! For someone who depended on their parents for everything, landing in a foreign land with big dreams (and responsibilities) was somewhat too overwhelming.
Does this sound familiar to you? After living in Melbourne for two years now, I want to help newcomers transition into their new lives more quickly and well informed. Here's a quick, comprehensive guide; I wish I had to settle down in Melbourne as a new international student.
First, get your long-term accommodation sorted as all the other steps to follow require address proof to send relevant documents/cards. If you're in temporary accommodation like AirBnB, inspect houses and student accommodations near your university. Visit flatmates.com.au to check the best available options. If you're residing on campus, you can skip this step.
University Enrolment and Student Services
Collect your student identification card, make sure you're enrolled into the correct units, fees paid/ready to pay, and get acquainted with your campus. Ensure to attend your orientation (O-week as they call it here) and check for any student services you can use throughout your study period. Make sure you change your address on all the services you signed up for, within seven days of the move.
SIM card, Bank Account, and Digital ID
While your address is necessary for the postal delivery, make sure you have a working Australian SIM card for OTP and SMS verifications. Once your address and contact are sorted, go to your bank branch and open your first account. Your bank card will be delivered to your address soon (Make sure to check your post box regularly. They're not hand-delivered in Australia. I missed most of my initial posts because I was unaware of this 😝). Carrying your passport everywhere is a hassle and you also risk losing it.
Digital ID by AusPost is the quickest and best way to verify your passport ID and proof of age (Some places might still request a physical ID).
MyGov and Tax File Number/Australian Business Number
My.gov.au is your one-stop shop for all the records with the Australian government, including Medicare/Individual Healthcare Identifier (IHI), Australian Taxation Office, Centrelink (Grants & Payments), and Australian Job Search. Make sure to set this up and update them as you go. Apply for your Tax File Number (TFN) if you're employed or Australian Business Number (ABN) if you're self-employed or freelancing. Your TFN is your identity for all your income and taxation activities no matter what job you do. If you're employed under someone, you need to apply for a TFN. If you plan to be self-employed or provide services, you can apply for an ABN. For example, I got my ABN as I'm a part-time Sports Coach who is self-employed. I provide sports coaching as a service to people but I'm not "employed" under any organisation. Another example would be If you plan on Uber deliveries/driving in your spare time.
Get your Myki Card for Public Transportation
Get your first Myki card from one of the kiosks or any station where you can spot a customer service official behind the screen. This card will be needed to use public transport in and around Melbourne. You can top up this card online and tap on and off as you use transportation to get around after registering your MYKI.
If you have an android phone, you can download Google Pay and set up a mobile Myki. Make sure to have your navigation apps active to check the stops until you're familiar. Download the PTV app to keep track of the schedules and important information related to your travel (delays, reroutes, replacements etc).
Health Insurance Card (OSHC)
OSHC is a student visa requirement to enter Australia. Upon arrival, it is critical that you activate the OSHC account with your service provider. Many universities will have an OSHC representative that you can connect with at O-week. Have their contact details handy, especially if you are experiencing issues with your instalments or have questions about navigating the cover. Please make sure you know what your GP charges if they accept your OSHC, as some GPs charge upfront and you might have to pay extra. Know what you're covered for and how much more you need to pay.
Part-time Employment and necessary Licenses or Certifications
There are professional (IT, Business, Law, etc.) part-time jobs available through Job Seeker and your university's talent platform. Most educational institutions have support services for getting you part time-jobs both on and off-campus. Make sure to explore these options which would help you in the long run.
If not, start looking for casual part-time employment and get any necessary licenses or certifications required for the job. If you're a teaching assistant/tutor, you'll probably require a 'Working with Children Check' (WWCC) - get the employment WWCH and not the volunteer one. You’ll need a valid driver's license and an ABN if you’re doing Uber. If you're in the hospitality industry, you might require a 'Responsible Service of Alcohol' (RSA) or 'DoFoodSafely' certifications. I worked as a sports coach that needed me to do a 'Protecting Children' and 'CPR/First Aid' certification.
These necessities will get you to a great start here in Melbourne.
The only way to make our lives easier and feel at home when we’re away from family is to care for our fellow mates and be there for each other.
Do you feel more ready and informed about starting your life here in Australia after reading this article? If you did, share it with your friends.