Moving to a different country is complicated. You need to navigate your way through different cultures and customs to find accommodation, set up bank accounts, work out how to get around, and secure employment. It helps to have some key information before you make the leap, to try and smooth the way.
The Australian Government recommends that as soon as possible after arrival, you take care of a number of key things.
- Apply for a tax file number (TFN)
- Register for public medical benefits with Medicare
- Open a bank account
- Register for government financial assistance with Centrelink
- Enrol in English classes
- Enrol your children in school
- Get a driver’s licence for the state in which you’re planning to reside
Finding accommodation is usually the most pressing concern for migrants to Australia. It can be very difficult to work out which area is suitable to live in, particularly if you’re moving to a large city. There’s also the added pressure to get it right – you’ve already uprooted your family once so you don’t want to be moving again if you can possibly avoid it.
The Australian Government has published useful guidelines about various matters, including:
- How the rental market works.
- Rent assistance.
- Tenants’ rights and responsibilities.
- Buying real estate.
- Public housing.
- Essential household services, such as electricity and gas.
One of the benefits of using a migration agent for your visa application is that they can be a great source of information for choosing areas that will suit your lifestyle and budget.
Unless you have an employer-sponsored visa, you may need some guidance on how to find work with a reputable employer.
Registering with Centrelink gives you access to its jobs network. Centrelink can also give you information about other jobs networks, for example the various internet-based job sites.
All major cities in Australia have public transport systems. If you choose not to use a car, or need some extra transport options, public transport should be able to accommodate you. However, if you choose to live in an outer city suburb, regional centre or town, you should check public transport before settling there and carefully weigh up the extent to which you may need to rely on your own transportation.
Migrant support networks
Migrant support networks can be crucial for new arrivals, particularly if there are language or cultural issues.
In NSW, the Community Relations Commission can give you information about social groups and clubs that support your cultural background.
Councils, also known as local government, provide services that affect daily living, such as rubbish collection and maintaining roads and footpaths.
Councils also run libraries and oversee recreation facilities and centres, community development programmes and arts and cultural programs. This makes councils a great source of information and it’s a good idea to make contact with your local council to find out what services are offered to migrants and what support is available.
Migration to Australia can be an intimidating undertaking, but the good news is that Australia is generally well equipped to assist migrants to access all the services they need for a smooth transition. The process is even better with the assistance of an experienced migration agent.