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Living and Studying in Melbourne

Melbourne is the capital of the State of Victoria. It is situated on the Yarra River and around Port Phillip Bay with its beautiful beaches and water sports facilities. It is a beautiful spacious city with parks, gardens, sporting venues and scenic places. With a population of 3.7 million, the city hosts a variety of festivals, cultural and sporting events including the Australian Grand Prix and the Australian Open Tennis which make it one of Australia’s top tourist destinations. Melbourne is clean, green and friendly.

It has been voted most liveable city in the world for 7 years running. Melbourne is only a short distance from many beautiful beaches perfect for swimming and water sports, as well as the Victorian mountain regions, where skiing is popular during winter. The city has an amazing range of attractions and activities to keep you entertained all year ‘round. It boasts great events, a passion for food and wine and a fabulous arts scene. Known as a style-setter, Melbourne is home to a non-stop program of festivals, renowned dining, major art exhibitions and musical extravaganzas.

The City of Melbourne has distinct ‘Precincts’, small pockets in the city with their own unique character, colour and charm. Lygon Street in Carlton is known as Melbourne’s “Little Italy” and is where the city’s famous café culture was born. Little Bourke Street—a slice of Asia in the heart of the city- is the focus of the buzzing Chinatown Precinct, and Lonsdale Street also known as Melbourne’s Greek Precinct makes it one of the world’s most multicultural cities.

There are now people from 160 nations living harmoniously together.

This broad ethnic mix has brought many benefits to the city including a wide range of cuisines and over 2,500 elegant restaurants, bistros and cafes.

Bars & Nightlife

Wander the city’s broad boulevards and narrow lanes and you’ll discover a wealth of places in which to drink, catch-up with friends or dance until dawn.

Flinders Quarter

Once home to the rag trade, Flinders Quarter is now Melbourne’s designer paradise where you’ll discover clothes, furniture, craft, art, organic food, film, poetry bookshops, cigar bars, fishing rods, basement jazz and warehouse conversions. The precinct also houses Australia’s largest concentration of commercial art galleries.

For a Free Guide to Studying and Living in Australia, click here.
For more information of the City of Melbourne, click here.
For details of holiday destinations around Melbourne, click here.

Eureka Sky Deck 88

Have you ever wanted to reach for the sky? Have you ever dreamed of having a ‘birds eye’ view of Melbourne? Prepare yourself for one of the most awe inspiring moments that you will experience in the Southern Hemisphere!

Melbourne Aquarium

Set on the banks of the picturesque Yarra River, this is the only Southern Ocean aquarium in Australia. Created 20 metres under the river’s surface is a marine world where you will meet many of the marvellous creatures from our oceans in an interactive, eye-opening experience.

Melbourne Museum

In the heart of Melbourne’s Carlton Gardens, One of Australia’s most striking contemporary buildings, Melbourne Museum is an innovative playground of interactive fun. Experience Australia’s culture, history and nature through a range of fascinating icons, stories and performances at this award-winning attraction.

Phillip Island Nature Park

Whilst in a constantly growing city, environmental preservation is a Major priority. Phillip island is home to Victoria’s Fairy Penguin Population. Experience a magical act of nature as the penguins march along the sands of Phillip Island.

Other Attractions

  • Melbourne Observation Deck
  • Melbourne River Cruises
  • Great Ocean Road
  • Victorian Arts Centre
  • Old Melbourne Gaol
  • Federation Square
  • Docklands
  • Botanical Gardens

The teaching and administration staff of the Melbourne College of Hair and Beauty are available to provide general advice and assistance with matters such as studying, homework, accommodation, English language problems and counselling.

The following information is available here:

  • Accommodation
  • Moving in
  • Public transport
  • Private transport
  • Health & medical
  • Money matters
  • Employment
  • Religious organisations
  • Legal issues
  • Immigration
  • Networking
  • Returning home

Accomodation

Finding somewhere to live is probably one of your greatest concerns on arrival. MCOHB is pleased to assist you in locating accommodation but it is up to you to make the necessary arrangements and decisions. If you have recently arrived in Melbourne, we can provide advice when inspecting accommodation.

Sorting out your needs and finding accommodation is dependent upon you knowing which preferences are the most important to you. (eg. If you are willing to spend more to be closer to campus).

Some questions you should be asking yourself include:

  • How flexible is my budget?
  • Can I live with more than 3 people?
  • Close to major shopping centres?
  • Do I need full security?
  • Close to the College?
  • Do I need meals provided?
  • Does it have to be fully-furnished?
  • Does it have to be brick or wooden?
  • Preferred mode of transport?

Once you know what preferences are most important to you, decide on the type of accommodation that best suits your needs. Be prepared to be flexible and change your preferences according to the accommodation available at that time.

Is the type of accommodation you are looking for available immediately? Are you prepared to wait? Or perhaps, compromise your preferences? We can also put you in touch with others who may be looking for similar accommodation.

Inspecting suitable vacancies and making a decision

Use a checklist when inspecting possible accommodation. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and be direct. It is not normal practice to bargain on rental prices.

It is in your interest to know what is involved in starting a tenancy and what your legal obligations are.

Types of Accommodation

  • Renting a whole house or unit
  • Shared house or unit
  • Residential colleges
  • Home stay
  • Full Board Hostels

Renting a whole house or unit

This is the most common type of accommodation chosen by international students. A weekly rent is charged for a furnished/unfurnished flat or house. Other costs include electricity, gas, and telephone.
When renting, a tenancy agreement – usually for a minimum of six months- will have to be signed. A tenancy agreement is a legal document which sets out rental conditions, together with the minimum period of time for which the property is rented. Rent is generally paid 2-4 weeks in advance.

Strengths

  • Quiet study environment
  • Greatest independence & personal freedom
  • Reduced costs if sharing
  • Freedom to choose compatible sharer’s

Concerns

  • Bond/rental agreements
  • Provision of household utensils/ appliances/ furniture
  • Highest establishment cost
  • Increased tasks – reduced study time
  • Expensive (if renting alone)
  • Diminished cultural/language interaction

Shared house or unit

A set weekly rent is charged for use of a bedroom together with the use of other living areas (e.g. lounge, dining, bathroom, and kitchen) within the unit/house. It is important to check what furniture, if any, is provided with the room. Sometimes the rent includes the cost of electricity and/or gas; otherwise these bills are shared equally between all co-tenants.

Food costs are additional and are normally left up to the individual, however you should have use of all kitchen facilities. Shared accommodation may be offered by either a single person or couples, who might be local residents or other international students. Responsibilities involved in shared accommodation include shopping, cooking and cleaning for oneself. Also, the bond for the place can be shared among the share mates.

Strengths

  • Greater independence in lifestyle & food
  • Expand social network
  • Reduced weekly costs & greater control over weekly expenses
  • Mutually supportive environment
  • Opportunity to increase cultural awareness and English language skills
  • Cultural compatibility

Concerns

  • Personal difficulties with fellow sharers
  • Provision of household utensils/appliances
  • High establishment costs with bonds (security deposits)
  • Diminished cultural/language interaction
  • Diminished “family” support
  • Communication/cultural differences

Home stay

A set weekly fee is charged to cover all expenses associated with food and shelter, including two meals per day, provision of facilities (e.g. towels, blankets, sheets, eating utensils), fuel costs (gas and electricity) and cleaning services (e.g. sweeping and dusting of rooms). Unless otherwise requested, students have their own bedroom with study facilities (e.g. bookcase, desk, study light), together with the use of other living areas, (e.g. lounge, dining, bathroom and toilet) within the flat/house. The home stay provider may be either a single person or a family.

Strengths

  • Secure “family” environment
  • Daily needs catered for
  • Opportunity to increase cultural awareness and English language skills
  • Not restricted to a fixed period
  • No other establishment costs

Concerns

  • Communication/cultural differences
  • Type of food provided
  • Study distractions – noise
  • Lack of privacy and freedom – rules

Residential Colleges

Residential Colleges normally provide students with a single bedroom with study desk, shared bathrooms, common rooms and a dining hall. Meals are usually provided at set times and residents are encouraged to become part of the college community. It is suggested that students with special dietary requirements enquire as to how the college will cater for them. Generally Students are expected to stay for at least one semester.

Moving In

Once you have found your accommodation, try and give as much notice as possible before checking out of your temporary accommodation. If there are two or three of you moving together call one of the taxi companies and ask for a station wagon to transport your luggage. The price is the same as for normal sedans. Otherwise ask for a Maxi taxi, Melbourne taxis are numerous and easy to spot – they are all uniformly yellow. Also, drivers must always wear a neat uniform and have an identity card on show at all times.

Hailing a cab

Cabs often wait in designated ranks that are clearly signposted at central locations like major hotels in the CBD, or busy spots such as Flinders Street Station. You can also hail a taxi in the street – if the rooftop light is illuminated, it means the taxi is available for hire – or book a taxi by telephone. Outside Melbourne, taxis widely operate in Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo, with additional cabs at country towns throughout the rest of the state.

Taxi totems

Melbourne has launched a number of ‘taxi totems’ around the city and in some regional centres, which will be lit and will make it easier to hail cabs and for cabs to notice you. The totems will feature your location name and the nearest cross street, a list of local taxi services and booking numbers including numbers for wheelchair accessible taxis and connections to train, tram and bus services where relevant.

Fares and surcharges

In general, taxi meters are clearly visible so you can keep check of your fare. Melbourne cabs also attract additional charges like a late night surcharge from midnight to 5 am, a fee for phone bookings, a fee for using the Citylink freeway and even a fee for taxis waiting at the airport rank.

Melbourne’s major taxi companies include:

  • 13 CABS
  • Silver Top Taxis

Switching on – Electricity

Look up as many different companies as you can for Electricity and/or gas to make sure you are getting the best price and not paying too much.

Firstly, check if the electricity is connected at your new premises. Then apply over the telephone. You will need to give some identification such as your passport number. The power will still be connected if the previous tenants have moved less than two weeks before. Your account will start from the date of supply.

If the power is not connected a visual safety inspection will have to be carried out.

You will have to specify a period when you will be available to allow the safety inspector access to the premises. After the initial invoice you will receive an electricity bill every three months. When you cease to be a customer of any company, your security deposit will be credited on your final account. Two full working days’ notice must be given for a final meter reading.

If the premises you want to move into was vacated less than two weeks before, it is more than likely the gas will still be connected. You can apply by phone. You will need some form of identification. Bills arrive every quarter. When you are ready to vacate the premises, give as much notice as possible, to arrange transfer or refund of security deposit.

Mobile telephones

Buying a mobile phone usually involves paying for the phone, a connection fee, a monthly access fee and the actual time spent on calls. Many students find the pre-paid plan a cheaper alternative to signing a 12 month contract. It is in your best interest to check out prices and options at a customer service centre before deciding what the best mobile phone service for yourself is.

Each company offers a variety of ‘plans’ that are specially made to suit a particular type of user, i.e. someone who uses it for ALL their calls or someone who just wants it for emergencies. So ask yourself: – Do I really need one? Can I afford a plan over 12 – 15 months (or whatever the contract is offering)? …How often will I be using it? As a rule the cheaper the monthly access fee, the higher the rate per 30 seconds. Flat rates are available from some companies. The main mobile phone companies are Optus, Telstra, Vodafone, 3G. Be sure to check out prices and options and ‘Beware’ that there is usually a penalty or payout figure if you break your contract. Make sure that you understand the legal implications of your contract before signing.

Shopping

Supermarkets like Coles, Woolworths, IGA or Aldi are the most popular food shops where you will find fresh fruits and vegetables, frozen foods, canned goods, meat, bread, laundry and cleaning supplies, personal needs and non-prescription drugs. Other shops such as K-Mart, Target, and Best and Less are known for inexpensive clothing and household items. Myers and David Jones tend to be more expensive. Asian and Islander grocery shops can be found around Chinatown takeaways/ restaurants.

Should a business give you a refund?

Yes, if:

  • It is faulty or damaged: The article is broken or will not work.
  • It is unfit for the purpose: This means the item will not do what it is supposed to do.
  • It does not agree with the description: e.g. Leather upper and vinyl sole is not an all leather shoe.
  • It does not comply with the sample you were shown: What you were given was different from the one on display.

No, if:

  • You changed your mind after you purchased the item.
  • You found it cheaper elsewhere.
  • You decided it was too expensive.
  • You knew about that particular fault prior to purchase.
  • You were responsible for causing the fault.

Before buying you should:

  • Think about what you want the product to do
  • Shop around for the best deal.
  • Compare quality and price.
  • Ask for advice.
  • Inspect goods carefully.

If things go wrong:

  • Be sure you didn’t cause the fault.
  • Stop using the faulty goods
  • Give details of the fault and what you would like the trader to do about it.
  • If there is a dispute ask to speak to someone in charge.
  • Often you can settle things there and then.
  • Explain the problem clearly and calmly.
  • If you leave the goods with the store, make sure you get a receipt.
  • If you cannot see someone in authority, write a letter instead.
  • When returning goods, take proof of purchase with you – e.g. a receipt or credit card slip.
  • Let the seller know as soon as possible & return the faulty goods or write to the seller as soon as possible.

Furniture

As it becomes harder to find rental accommodation that is fully furnished, you are left with the options of buying new, used or second hand or renting the furniture & appliances you need. As unfurnished accommodation usually does not include a refrigerator and washing machine, it is up to you to prioritise the items of furniture you need the most to be comfortable. If you are in shared accommodation – who will pay and how much?

New Furniture / Appliances

If you require new furniture and appliances, K-Mart, A-Mart and Target stores are to be found in most of the larger shopping centres. These stores are reasonably priced. A list of locations can be found in the telephone directory.

Used Furniture

One way of buying used furniture is to go on Gumtree or eBay. Items sold privately are normally cheaper and you can bargain (within reason) with the seller. It is normal practice to call the seller, ask questions about the item and get their address so you can inspect before buying. The biggest drawback is the time taken to travel to private homes to inspect the items.

Second-hand shops

Other alternatives to private sellers are second-hand shops.

Some offer 10% discounts to students and has a wide variety of goods available. They are also willing to buy back the same items from you when you have finished your studies. Check with other shops about this when you purchase your furniture. A popular pawn shop called Cash Converters has TVs, VCR, stereos, computers, and kitchen appliances. Any electrical item bought from these shops normally comes with a one month warranty (guarantee) at the time of purchase. Make sure you ask about their warranty or refund policy.

There are other second-hand shops that only deal in white goods, such as refrigerators or washing machines.  While their goods may come with a one month warranty period it is often possible to pay extra for a longer warranty period.

Transport

Public Transport

Victoria has a fantastic public transport network.

We have Trains (Metro or V-Line), Trams (Yarra Trams or City Circle), and Buses.

Private Transport

Driver’s License

If you hold a valid driver license issued under the law of another country a “foreign drivers license”, you ARE allowed to drive any class of motor vehicle authorised on that license in Victoria along with your passport. You must have the license with you at all times when  driving and immediately show the license to a police officer when asked to do so. You must not drive in Victoria when:

  • your license is no longer a valid license or
  • your authority to drive in Victoria on that license has been suspended or
  • your authority to drive in Victoria on your driver’s license has been withdrawn

If your license is in a language other than English you should carry an official English translation of your license while driving. (see box “Obtaining Official Translation”). You MUST familiarise yourself with the Victoria road rules before attempting to drive in Victoria. If you breach any traffic regulations your privilege to drive in Victoria can be taken away.

Getting a driver license

If you do not have a driver’s license and will be in Australia for more than 6 months you can apply to obtain Victorian Driver License, including a learner license. You maybe asked in your application to state your reasons for wanting a Vic license. Study “Your Keys to Driving in Vic” booklet.

This information can be accessed on:

  • Vicroads
  • passport & foreign driver license, if held, which is required to be in English. If it is not in English, you must carry an official translation of your license while driving.
  • give proof of your place of residence in Victoria.
  • pass a written test on the Victoria road rules you may also be asked to do he following:
  • pass an eyesight test and
  • arrange a practical driving test appointment and
  • take a practical driving test after paying the test fee.

Buying a car

Before you get carried away thinking about yourself behind the wheel of your dream car, get real and consider the cost.

Cars aren’t cheap

Owning a car isn’t cheap, running and maintenance cost can include:

  • registration fee (every car must be registered to be on the road)
  • annual insurance premiums (varies according to type of vehicle & policy)
  • regular maintenance
  • unexpected repairs
  • petrol (every week)
  • parking

Insurance

CTP – Compulsory Third Party Insurance is paid as part of your annual registration fee. CTP insurance protects you against any claims that could arise because of death or injury to another person, caused by the negligence of anyone driving your car. CTP does NOT cover damage to vehicles or property. It is advisable to purchase Third Party Liability Insurance. This covers any damage caused to someone else’s property, but does not cover the repair bill to your own car. This is the cheapest form of voluntary insurance you can buy and is good for older cars. Fire & theft cover is optional with this policy. Full Car insurance or Comprehensive insurance gives you the greatest protection but cost the most. Shop around for the best value.

Buying from a licensed dealer

There are different steps while buying a registered car privately or buying from a motor dealer.
This is a summary of RACV’s Car Buyer’s Guide*. The ten points listed here provide a limited checklist of things you need to know before purchasing a car.

  • Buy the type, make and model of car that best suits your needs and your pocket. It is best to buy from a licensed dealer.
  • Always have a used car inspected by a qualified person you can trust, before you decide to buy it. It’s your only protection against buying a “bomb.” Don’t rely on the road worthiness certificate.
  • Don’t rush to buy your car, as you may regret it.
  • Ignore any promise, warranty or guarantee that isn’t in writing, or that is conditional in any way.
  • Don’t forget the “REVS” Certificate!
  • Never sign any contract or document until it is complete, you have thoroughly read and understood it, you are sure you want the car, can afford it, and it is in the condition you are prepared to accept. Once you sign it, it’s yours.
  • Always get a copy of any contract you sign and a copy of the roadworthiness certificate.
  • Never accept a loan or finance agreement just because it’s quick, easy or convenient; it may be at a high interest rate. Have reliable finance arranged before buying your car (e.g. through your bank).
  • Insure your car with a company you feel you can trust to give you good value-for-money cover and an efficient claims service.
  • When you’re buying your first car, it’s so easy to get excited about the first one you see. But be careful. Put your heart in the back seat and let your head do the driving. Consider the many important points like warranty, price and condition. It’s great to buy a car that looks good, but it’s even better to buy one that suits your pocket and is reliable. For further information access the following website: www.racv.com.au

Cycling

Cycling is a healthy, cheap and environmentally friendly alternative mode of transport. Melbourne City Council he benefits of recreational and commuter cycling. The Council has built more than 350 km of bikeways and 3000 km of footpaths across the City for easy travel and enjoyable recreation.

Health and Medical

Each public hospital has a 24 Hour Emergency and Casualty department where you may seek help after hours and during weekends. Expect to wait a long time to see a doctor at a public hospital unless of course it is an emergency. You should check whether your OSHC provider covers out-patient treatment.

Doctors are referred to as a GP, General Practitioner or MP, Medical Practitioner.

Pharmaceutical Prescriptions

Pharmaceuticals prescribed by a doctor are not free nor are they available from doctors. They must be purchased at a Chemist. If the cost of the prescribed medication is over a certain amount you can get a refund of the amount through your OSHC provider. Pharmaceuticals prescribed under this are not claimable. For for details, see www.medibank.com.au

Overseas Student Health Cover – OSHC

The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) requires all international students and their families (on “dependent” visa) to have medical insurance while in Australia. Currently there are four insurance companies that provide OSHC, these are:

Each company provides a basic health insurance which covers the cost of consultations with a General Practitioner, blood test, x-rays, hospital treatment, some pharmaceuticals, and emergency ambulance. Make sure you know what is covered by your provider and what is NOT covered. Read the policy carefully particularly with regards to pre-existing conditions.

Membership

Your health cover membership begins the day you land in Australia or the day payment is received. New students who have paid their OSHC and are insured with “Medibank Private” will need to order their OSHC card. Your card will then be sent to your Australian address. If you have to see a doctor but have not received your card, make sure you keep the receipt to claim the doctor’s charge back at a later date. You are responsible for ensuring your OSHC remains valid throughout your stay in Australia. As long as you remain in Australia on a student visa you MUST be covered by OSHC.

Claiming a refund

To get a refund for doctors’ fees and prescription medication, submit a claim form and original receipts to your OSHC provider. You should get the full amount if you have been charged the scheduled fee.

Extra health insurance cover

You may wish to take additional insurance for services such as dental, optical, chiropractic, physiotherapy, clinical psychology all of which are not normally covered by the basic OSHC package. Check with individual insurance companies for extra cover and make sure you are aware of the conditions that apply for certain coverage.

Dental services

OSHC does not cover dental services. You will have to see a private dentist. You should be given a good estimate/cost of the work to be done after your first visit. If in doubt seek a second opinion. Some dentists are more expensive than others. Appointments are necessary to visit a dentist, and payment at time of service is always expected.

Other Services

Family Planning

Family planning, contraceptives, and sexuality issues can be discussed with nurses, doctors, or counsellors. There are also several centres throughout Melbourne providing advice and specialist services to the community.

Counselling

Feeling homesick is normal and can affect anyone at any age. Being in a new country and new university is difficult and can be overwhelming for anyone regardless of cultural background, age, gender, and life experiences. In Australia it is common to seek help and speak to a counsellor about fears, stresses or distresses, grief, academic anxieties, relationship issues; any concern affecting your lifestyle. Counselling can help you achieve and maintain a balanced and healthy lifestyle.

“Lifeline Victoria – Personal and Family Counselling” unit provides personal and marital counselling for people of all ages who want to make changes in their lives. Lifeline (phone 13 11 14 open 24hrs) is a safe and supportive environment adhering to respect of an individual and maintaining confidentiality of all its cases.

Discrimination

It is unlawful to act in any such way that excludes or restricts on the basis of race, colour, descent or national or ethnic origin. It is also unlawful to discriminate on the basis of sex, marital status, pregnancy or potential pregnancy in everyday life such as education, accommodation and employment. The College is committed to providing a freedom from all forms of discrimination in education and employment. Claims for discrimination must be made within 12 months of the incident of discrimination. The process of resolving discrimination matters emphasizes conciliation. However, if the matter is still not resolved, it can proceed to a formal hearing.

Locations of Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (Federal) Complaints Info line: 1300 656 419

Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence is the abuse of a person by a family member. Where the relationship between the persons involved is that of a spouse, de facto partner or they are both the parents of the same child, a Domestic Violence Protection Order may be available. This order is commonly made for 2 years and can restrict contact with the parties involved.

Essentially, there are 7 types of abuse that can occur:

  • Verbal abuse (e.g., put downs, comments  about incompetence)
  • Financial abuse (e.g., refusal to give money for basic necessities)
  • Social abuse (e.g., denying the right to earn money, prevention of socializing with other family members and friends) • Sexual abuse (e.g., forced sexual intercourse or sexual behaviour not wanted by the other person)
  • Physical abuse (e.g., punching, pushing, kicking, slapping, pulling hair)
  • Psychological abuse (e.g., destroying their self confidence, enforcing a feeling of insanity or uselessness in another person)
  • Damage to property (e.g., punching a hole in the wall, damaging the car) When safe emergency accommodation is needed for a woman and, where applicable, her children, contact:
    • Women’s Domestic Violence Connect
    • Women’s Legal Service

Alcohol & drug use

Illegal drugs, classified as narcotics, include such drugs as heroin, cocaine, angel dust, cannabis, hashish, amphetamines (speed, uppers) and tranquillizers. The Drugs Misuse Act sets out that it is illegal to possess, supply, traffic in or cultivate the illegal drugs stated above plus others.

Under the Customs Act, there are four principal offences that are related to illegal drugs:

  • possession of narcotics on board a ship or aircraft
  • importing or exporting or attempts to import or export
  • possession or attempted possession of illegally imported drugs; and
  • possession or attempted possession of drugs suspected of having been illegally imported

Police have the power to:

  • search without a warrant if there is reasonable belief that there are drugs present
  • search a person (by an officer of the same sex) without a warrant if there is reasonable belief that there are drugs present
  • use tracking devices if they reasonably suspect that a vehicle contains drugs
  • A police officer that reasonably suspects that a drug offence has been committed may require a person to supply his/her name and address and date and place of birth.

Alcohol & Drug Information Service (ADIS) – www.health.vic.gov.au/drugs

Alcohol and Drug Foundation – www.adin.com.au

Money

Banking

The main types of financial institutions in Australia offering banking and financial services are banks, credit unions and building societies. Banks are licensed and regulated under Federal or State Government legislation whilst credit unions and building societies are registered and regulated through Government legislation in each State and can vary from state to state.

Most of the banks located in the City are:

  • Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA)
  • National Australia Bank (NAB)
  • Westpac
  • ANZ
  • Hong Kong Bank (HKGB)
  • Bank of Singapore
  • Citibank

Opening an account

You will need to show your passport and any other identification when opening an account. Every bank has an account suitable for your day to day needs, a key card account. Key card accounts allow you to deposit, withdraw cash and transfer money from any automatic teller machine (ATMs) or use EFTPOS (electronic funds transfer at point of sale).

This allows for any goods or services, including petrol and groceries, directly from your bank accounts or credit card. You can usually withdraw cash at the same time, so you don’t have to go to a branch or ATM. You use the same PIN (Personal Identification Number) for both ATMs and EFTPOS, leaving you only one number to remember. You are normally given a limited number of free ATM and EFTPOS transactions.
If you exceed that amount, charges will apply. All bank charges and transaction fees should appear on your bank statement. Regardless of which bank you choose, you can usually withdraw your money from another bank’s ATM, although bank fees will always apply unless stated by the bank.

Interest on accounts

Interest earned in accounts is regarded as income and will be taxed if you earn more than a certain amount per month. You will be asked to give your tax file number to the bank when opening a term deposit. For more details visit the ATO.

Transferring money from overseas

The safest way to receive money from your home country is by sending it via a Telegraphic Transfer, which is an electronic method of transferring funds. It is safe because the funds are cleared upon receipt and deposited directly to your account. This eliminates the chances of lost drafts in the post, and being fraudulently amended as well as giving you immediate access to your funds once received in Australia. A cheaper alternative for the sender is an international bank draft.

Clearing the funds will take three days if the draft has been issued in AUD and drawn on an Australian Branch of a recognised bank. If the draft is however drawn on a foreign bank and in a foreign currency, banks usually place a 20 working day hold on the funds until the cheque has been paid.. Students can pay for their tuition fees via credit card, bank draft or telegraphic transfer.

Foreign currency restrictions

There may be currency export restrictions in certain countries. If so, you will need to obtain a letter to prove your status as a student and itemized amounts for your tuition fees and living expenses. It is always advisable to clarify information from the bank in your home country before requesting the letters.

Budgeting

(The following are extracts from “Budgeting – Making it easy ‘published by Credit Union).
Budgeting is the best way for you to take control of your finances, save money and plan for the future. To avoid the pitfalls of overspending and be able to handle the unexpected bills which occur from time to time, a budget is an essential part of everyday living. Financial planning – budgeting – is the best way to achieve your short and long term goals. Benefits of good money management

  • You will have more control and direction over your personal affairs.
  • You will be able to trim those trivial purchases and concentrate on your most important goals.
  • You will achieve savings to carry you through any emergencies.

Setting short and long-term goals

At the start of your BUDGET plan you should ask yourself “What are my short-term and long-term financial goals?” Making these choices will give you a number of targets incentives for drawing up your budget. It is important to be REALISTIC. Once you have worked out how much you have left to spend, set aside a certain amount for savings towards your goals. You may be able to arrange a special saving account by having your savings specially allocated towards buying your new computer or overseas holiday.

Control your spending

Deciding to budget does not mean that you have to completely cut out spending on optional items that are important to your lifestyle. However it is important to be realistic about optional items and become a disciplined shopper as well as a disciplined budgeter.

Tips for shopping on a budget

With a little bit of planning beforehand, wise shoppers should keep the following rules to get the best value for money:

  • Make a list of needed groceries and only buy the items on your list. Keep a note of items which run short each week and add to your list.
  • Have a meal before going shopping. Hungry shoppers are tempted by food  delicacies which can make holes in the budget
  • Plan a weekly household menu which takes account of individual preferences, nutrition and value for money
  • Scan newspapers and ‘junk mail’ for weekly grocery specials and compare
  • Prices in shops and supermarkets in your area. Fruit and vegetables in season are much cheaper than those ‘out of season’.
  • Beware of impulse buying. You are less likely to buy on impulse if   you get to know where goods are placed on your local supermarket shelves and organize your shopping route in the store in a regular pattern. You will be less likely to find tempting items while searching for needed products
  • The cheapest brand may not always give the best value. Read labels carefully to compare contents, quantity and weight • Learn to estimate the price per unit (or even carry a small calculator) of products to determine value for money
  • Be careful not to buy more than you need in perishable items such as meat and fresh vegetables or they could become stale and need to be thrown out before they are used
  • Always check the ‘Use by’ date on the item being purchased. The ‘Use by’ date is an indication of the freshness of the item and, whilst some supermarkets offer low prices for out-of-date items, it is not always advisable to buy these as they may be stale or contaminated.
  • Supermarket shelves usually have the higher priced items placed at eye level. Check the lower shelves for lower priced items of similar quality
  • Check with senior students for information regarding the best places to shop for certain goods
  • Get together with friends and form a food cooperative. This can result in lower prices for you. For example some butchers offer cheaper prices for bulk orders of meat

Working out a budget

Set aside several hours to complete your budget. This will make it easier for you to change or update your figures. Try and be as realistic as possible. Do not make the budget so tight and demanding it will be impossible to achieve your goals. Do not make it too generous or you will destroy your incentive to budget and save. It is a good idea to involve everyone in your household. Tell them about your budget and saving goals and why it is so important to achieve them. This way everyone is committed to the budget. Don’t be discouraged if you cannot get your budget to work – try again. Once you have set up a workable budget you will find that budgeting becomes a habit. Today is the best day to begin budgeting.

Income

List all your incoming money (after tax) in the budget planner on a weekly and yearly basis.
If you receive an allowance from parents on a regular basis break it down to a weekly figure ($2000 for 3 months = $2000/13 weeks = $154/week). If the amount is irregular, then work out the average based on the past 6 months. Any wages for part-time jobs, Interest on term deposits, savings, etc

Allowance $____________
Part-time wages $____________
Bank interest $____________
Total income $____________
Expenses $____________

Make a careful list of all your expenses. If you don’t have any idea of what some bills are likely to cost refer to the budget calculator on our website. Remember to also keep a detailed list of your spending over the next few months, so you know exactly where your money is going and where you can cut back. Divide your expenditure into different categories to enable you to decide on your spending and saving priorities.

  • Basic Expenses
  • Lifestyle
  • Savings
  • Payments

You will find that some items will be weekly (food, transport), some monthly (telephone), some quarterly (electricity, gas), and some yearly (health insurance). To arrive at annual figures multiple weekly amounts by \52, fortnightly by 26, etc…

Adding it all up

When you have completed filling in the planner, subtract your expenditure total from your income total. If you have spare money left over, that is your potential savings but if there is a shortfall – you’re spending more than you earn. You will have to reassess your expenditure or look for ways to increase your income. Remember; do not regard your budget as set in concrete. Change it when your circumstances change, but never lose sight of your savings goal.

Budget Planner

Weekly Annual
Basic Expenses
Rent $____________ $____________
Electricity $____________ $____________
Gas $____________ $____________
Telephone $____________ $____________
Food
Groceries & meats $____________ $____________
Fruit & vegetables $____________ $____________
Bread & milk $____________ $____________
Lunches $____________ $____________
Educational
Stationery, textbooks $____________ $____________
Photocopying, printing $____________ $____________
School expenses $____________ $____________
Transport $____________ $____________
Health & Medical
Health insurance $____________ $____________
Consultations, medications $____________ $____________
Dental, Optical $____________ $____________
Subtotal:    $____________ $____________
Lifestyle Expenses
Clothing $____________ $____________
Footwear, hair care $____________ $____________
Entertainment (clubs) $____________ $____________
Movies $____________ $____________
CD’s, tapes, mags, books $____________ $____________
Hobbies, sport $____________ $____________
Holidays, sightseeing $____________ $____________
Gifts $____________ $____________
Subtotal:    $____________ $____________
Savings
General savings $____________ $____________
Emergency savings $____________ $____________
Special savings $____________ $____________
Subtotal:    $____________ $____________
Payments
Loan $____________ $____________
Furniture rental $____________ $____________
Credit Card $____________ $____________
Subtotal:    $____________ $____________
( Subtract the costs from your savings) Total:    $____________ $____________

Employment

Finding part-time employment in a different country is a daunting experience, but with a little research and patience you may be able to find a part-time job to suit you.

The job must not interfere with your course as studying is your number one priority. It is not designed to subsidise your course or living costs.

Your visa was granted based on your declaration that you have sufficient funds to cover your living and tuition expenses in Australia. You must continue to have sufficient funds to support yourself and accompanying family members while you are in Australia. You should not rely on work to support yourself or your family while in Australia.

When you have started your course of study in Australia, you can generally work up to 40 hours per fortnight when your course is in session and unlimited hours during scheduled course breaks.

Please see Work Conditions for Student Visa Holders for more information.

Looking for work

Places you can find jobs:

Community – notice boards in local shopping centres or public meeting places such as community centres and clubs.

Networking – this is one of the main ways that students get jobs. Talk to your friends, class colleagues, graduating students who may be leaving their casual jobs, friends’ families, local shopkeepers, etc…. anyone & everyone is a potential lead to a job.

Volunteering – consider volunteering your services as it will help you develop valuable work skills, improve your communication skills, make new friends and contacts and most importantly expand your network. You can explore new career options and add another dimension to your resume. Volunteering Victoria support and consultation for non-profit organisations and is a good place to start.

 Door knocking or “cold canvassing”

Approach staff in shops, restaurants or offices and ask to speak to the manager. Send a letter expressing interest in working at a particular place or make a phone call. Most of the fast-food outlets hire staff this way. Have a letter or short resume to leave with the manager. Make sure that you choose a quiet time to approach prospective employers.

Part-Time Work

Part-time paid employment is another good way to meet Australians. Often when you work alongside others, you get to know people well and make good friends with your colleagues. At the same time you can earn some money.

Starting work

When you start work for a new employer (payer) you will be required to complete a Tax File Number Declaration form. The payer will send the form to the ATO (Australian Taxation Office). The information on this form is used by the payer to determine the amount of tax deducted from your pay. Employers (payers) now use electronic pay systems and you will need to provide them with your banking details – name & address of the bank, BSB number (a 6 digit code) and your account number.

Taxation

Income Tax and International Students

You will need to understand some basic taxation requirements to assist you during your stay in Australia. Generally, taxation laws will affect you when:

  • You open a bank account, or
  • You commence employment.

These situations will require you to obtain a tax file number (TFN) from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). A TFN is used by the ATO to ensure correct identification of the people it interacts with. This is usually when individuals lodge their income tax returns.

Taxation

Australia uses the Pay-as-you-go (PAYG) system of tax. This means your employer deducts tax from your wages as you earn). It is not a final assessment of your tax liability but estimation, so that you will not have a large tax bill at the end of the financial year. The financial year is from July 1- June 30.

How is tax calculated?

You have to pay tax on the taxable income earned in one financial year. Taxable income is the total gross income minus allowable deductions (i.e. deductions are expenses you incurred to earn that income). Tax is calculated by applying the tax rates (refer to tax rate table) to taxable income. Any rebates or tax offsets are deducted from this amount, giving you the total tax you have to pay. If you have paid more than this amount you lodge a Tax Return to claim this money back from ATO. If you have not paid enough tax you will have a tax debt.

Income Tax Return

At the end of the financial year, your employer will provide you with a Payment Summaries, previously called Group Certificate. This provides information on your total income and the amount which you have been taxed while working for that particular employer. These Payment Summaries must be attached to your tax return and lodged at your nearest Taxation Office.

If you are required to lodge an income tax return, the following information may assist you: You need to lodge a tax return if tax has been withheld from your earnings as an employee, or from interest credited by a bank, credit union or building society. An assessment will be issued to you advising of any extra tax you have to pay on your income, or alternatively, making a refund of any excess tax you may have paid.

More information on how to lodge a tax return can be obtained from a “Tax Pack” which you can get from any Australian Taxation Office or news agencies. International students are not entitled to Medicare and can seek an exemption to the Medicare Levy in their income tax return. To claim an exemption you need to supply a copy of your Medicare Levy Exemption Certificate which is obtained by applying to Australia Taxation Office using the appropriate form. More details are available at www.ato.gov.au

Superannuation

Superannuation is a way of saving for retirement. Australia law requires employers to make contributions for you into a superannuation fund. This applies for full-time, part-time and casual employees.

Most Australian must wait until they are at least 55 or 60 years of age before they are allowed access to the money paid by employers. Changes to Australian Law now allow international students to access their superannuation funds after they have permanently departed Australia, and their visa has expired or been cancelled. The system also allows for temporary residents to start their application the day they arrive in Australia, and add the details of their superannuation funds as they move from job to job.

For more information, go to the ATO website and look for – Departing Australia Superannuation Payments (DASP).

Tax rates – How much tax will you pay?

Click here for tax brackets and further details.

Issues to consider

Financial
Most students find that living with their family in Melbourne can be very expensive. Expect to use your savings. Expenses to consider include: airfares, school fees (see schooling), child care fee, higher rent, educational cost (i.e. lunches, books, excursions, and uniforms), transport, medical insurance, clothing and other necessities.

Religious Organisations

While living away from family and friends students often gain support and comfort through their religion. For some, finding spiritual guidance may be a simple matter of locating where and when gatherings and services are held. Others may experience personal difficulties before reacquainting themselves with their faith. In Victoria there are formal and informal religious organisations which cater for international students. A few are easily located in the community.

In the Community

A comprehensive list of religious services and places of worship can be found on the internet.

Legal Issues

If you have a legal problem, seek help early!

Many people suffer unnecessarily because they believe seeking legal advice will be expensive. Legal advice and assistance can be obtained for free or at a reduced cost. If in doubt, speak to an adviser about your situation to determine whether professional assistance is needed.

What is the legal age in Australia?

  • A person 17 years or over is considered an adult under Criminal Law
  • A person 18 years and over is considered an adult under General Law. 18 is the legal age in Australia where you can lawfully access nightclubs, casinos and other licensed venues. Underage drinking, illegal use of drugs and other criminal offences are unlawful and will be punishable according to the law.

Your rights:

A person is not required to go to a police station to answer questions unless they have been arrested. Police have the right to question any person, but the person being questioned is not obliged to answer except:

  • to provide their name and address
  • to produce a driver’s license for traffic offences or accidents
  • to identify a driver who was driving at the time an offence was  committed unless that answer  will incriminate the person answering
  • to provide information to a customs officer about the import and export of narcotics
  • to provide date and place of birth where the police are investigating a drug matter and they are a suspect, or have been detained for search.

If a person is arrested and does not give their name or address, this may result in a refusal of bail by the police. A person under investigation or questioning for an offence has the right to remain silent unless required to answer under any Act. Before a police officer starts to question a person in custody for an indictable offence, the officer must inform the person of the right to communicate with a friend, relative or lawyer. Inadequate knowledge of the English language or a physical disability. There is a right to an accused person in custody to have the interview electronically recorded.

Tenancy Law

What is a Tenancy?
A “tenancy” usually exists where a person (the tenant) pays money to another (the Landlord) for the right to occupy the landlord’s premises for some definite period of time (a term). This right to occupy the premises is more than just a contract; it is a right to the land. The Residential Tenancies Act 1994 defines the rights and responsibilities of tenants, their lessors and agents in a wide variety of situations. Many issues and disputes that may arise relate to these rights and responsibilities set out in the Act. Under the tenancy agreement, tenants are required to occupy the premises quietly and not create excessive noise. If the tenant is at least 14 days in overdue rent payments, the Commission can give 14 days notice to quit and a warrant can be issued to possess the land if the tenant is still on the premises. If the landlord, without having ended the tenancy, enters and tries to evict either peacefully or forcibly, she or he may be liable to a criminal prosecution as well as civil proceedings. Make sure you have all dealings with the landlord or agent in writing. Always keep your rent receipts as proof of payment.

Fact Sheets from the Residential Tenancies Authority & the Tenancies Union of Vic are available.

Networking

An important issue for both international students and resident Australian students is getting better acquainted with each other. There are positive outcomes for both parties. International Students can get to know Australian culture better. Often the best way to increase proficiency in a language is to immerse oneself in it. In addition it is a very enriching experience to share one’s culture and learn about other cultures. Through this, you can expand your knowledge and gain a greater understanding and empathy – important skills for just about anything in life.

Expanding one’s friendship circle has numerous benefits for Australian and international students, with the opportunity to help each other out with study as well as socialise when you need to take a well-deserved break. Socialising with local students may also allow you to discover parts of Melbourne previously unknown to you. However, given these advantages, meeting and getting to know new people can also be quite daunting and it is not always easy to do.

This fact sheet is aimed to give you some starting points for doing just that. There are numerous avenues for meeting and socializing. Especially in the community, it is likely that you’ll meet other people of all ages,   including non-student and this could certainly provide a different perspective of life in Australia.

Volunteering

Volunteering can be an ideal way to develop personal and work skills and enhance your CV.  Volunteering Victoria is an organisation that places volunteers within community non-profit organisations. There is a wide range of areas in which you can gain work experience:  entertainment, welfare, clerical/administrative, manual, marketing, retail, hospitality and special functions.

Returning Home

Remember back to when you were preparing to leave home and come to Melbourne for the first time? Returning home is just as significant and you need to ensure that you are well prepared.

As your time at MCOHB comes to an end, you will probably be looking forward to seeing friends, family and familiar faces. It is very common to go through a period of adjustment upon your return home, which is sometimes referred to as “re-entry shock” or “reverse culture shock.”

This may be the case whether you return home for a brief visit, for a few months or to move home permanently. For some people, readjusting to the home culture can be even more challenging than the initial adjustment to the host culture. Fortunately, you can take steps to ensure a smooth transition. Studies have shown that preparation can help to reduce the disorientation, and also helps people to settle back into home more easily. Although many people go through periods of feeling unsettled after returning home, re-adjustment does occur naturally. Most people look back with pleasure on the experience and skills they acquired while abroad. We are confident that by reading the following information re-entry transition will be a positive experience for you.

The following are some possible situations that may add to your stress in re-adjusting when you return home:

  • changes in life-styles and daily routines
  • family and/or community pressures to conform
  • changes from an emphasis on individualism in Australian society to a more family/group-centred attitude
  • adjustment to having friends and family close by
  • social alienation due to long stay abroad
  • unfamiliarity with forms of communication or styles of expressions that have become current during your absence
  • verbal and non-verbal modes and mannerisms  adopted in Australia may be misinterpreted by others
  • challenges of re-interpreting and adapting your skills to the local situations
  • lack of facilities or resources for research
  • wrong expectations on the part of colleagues
  • difficulties with finding suitable employment in one’s chosen field
  • no opportunity to communicate what was learned overseas resistance to change by one’s co-workers, especially those in authority

How can I prepare?

Here are some suggestions that other students have found useful:
Feel familiar, but you may also feel that there is something out of place, which you just cannot see at first glance.

  • It will be helpful to give yourself time to think about what you are feeling, and how your view of your familiar home and culture have changed and why. Allow time for you and your family to settle back into the rhythm.
  • Try to remember to respond slowly when you first return to your home and work. Do not try to change the way they do things because you see a ‘different’ way. Different does not always mean better. Show people that you appreciate the way things are done locally, and as opportunities arise, integrate your new knowledge with the ways things are done traditionally.
  • Reserve judgement. Give yourself time to process what you learned, and think through the wider impact of introducing new ways of doing things. What works in one situation, may not work in another. Pick ideas which will work well for you, and discard those which will not. Try new things…but not immediately!
  • Try to be sensitive to other people’s feelings. Are they really not interested in your experiences, or are they envious of the opportunities you have had.
  • Try not to idealise Australia, or criticise your own country… and vice-versa. Attempt to remain objective. Be careful about how you phrase your comments and criticism about your country.
  • You may be used to Australians being free and quick to criticise. Do not forget that it may not be acceptable to do the same at home.
  • Be flexible, keep your sense of humour and try not to do too much too quickly.
  • Write your ideas and feelings to friends and staff in Australia if you cannot find someone locally with whom to talk.

Adapted from: Denny, M. Going Home: A guide to Professional Integration. NAFSA, 1986, Washington D.C

Checklist of Things to Do

There may seem to be a million tasks to complete before you can get on the plane for your return trip home! This list may help you to organise your time, and remind you of some jobs which you may not have considered. You may like to add other items to the list..

  • BOOK RETURN FLIGHT HOME
    Take into consideration the date of your last exam, progressive release of semester results (third week after exam period, when your visa expiries.
  • NOTIFY YOUR FAMILY OF YOUR ARRIVAL DATE
    Don’t surprise them- they may need time to prepare for your return home too!
  • ORGANISE YOUR POSSESSIONS
    Identify what you want to bring home and what you can sell (advertise with Student Guild, Trading Post, among friends, second hand shops etc).
  • CHOOSE THE WAY TO BRING HOME LUGGAGE
    If you have excess baggage organise freight overseas
  • FILE OUTSTANDING MEDICAL INSURANCE CLAIMS
  • LODGE A TAX RETURN
    If you have been working part-time, bring the following documents to the Australian Taxation
    • Your return airline ticket
    • Your passport
    • The group certificate from your employer (if you can not get a group certificate, request a letter from your employer stating the number of hours you worked, the gross amount paid to you and the amount of tax deducted).   When completing the tax pack at the taxation office mark it ‘Final Return’. You must include your forwarding address (in your home country) so that the tax refund cheque will be sent directly to you.
  • CLEAR DEBTS WITH MCOHB
    For example library penalties, student loans, tuition fees, so that your degree and transcript can be released.
  • ASK LECTURERS AND EMPLOYERS FOR REFERENCES
    Start to collect personal and work references for your resume. Information about organisations you have worked for either paid or unpaid will also be useful.
  • APPLY FOR MEMBERSHIP TO PROFESSIONAL BODIES
    Find out about requirements and application procedures for joining associations and bodies relevant to your profession. Ask them to send the information to your address overseas.
  • GIVE NOTICE TO LANDLORD
    Inform the landlord/agent of the date you wish to terminate your lease (Give at least 14 days notice). Check the expiry date in your lease you may be able to negotiate to stay until your departure date. Should you find it necessary to move out of your accommodation before the lease expires, negotiate with the landlord to avoid any penalties. Organise temporary accommodation if you have to move out before you depart.
  • ARRANGE A TIME FOR INSPECTION
    Find a time to inspect the property with your landlord/agent. Use your copy of the Entry Condition Report. Make sure you give yourself time to clean and ensure that the current state of the property matches the condition report. It is best to have an inspection one or two days before the tenancy expires.
  • BRING A COPY OF APPLICATION FOR REFUND OF RENTAL BOND
    Your landlord will give you the bond as a cheque or deposit it in your bank account after relevant forms have been completed. You will need identification.
  • DISCONNECTION AND REFUND OF BONDS FOR ELECTRICITY/ GAS/ TELEPHONE
    The final bill is usually deducted from the bond for all services. Do not wait for the bill to come in the mail. Set the date for disconnection of all services. Ensure that you inform all of the services that you will be going overseas. If you are in a shared tenancy, make sure that you remove your name from all accounts with these services otherwise you are still liable.
  • CLOSE ALL BANK ACCOUNTS
    Make sure you do this after you receive any outstanding payments.
  • OTHER
    Australia Post – You can redirect your mail for a small fee to someone in Australia only. Apply at a Post Office and take ID with you.
    Academic Transcript – You need to complete an RR Form ‘Request for Academic Records’ and pay a fee to the cashier at Administration. Allow 10 working days for it to be completed, but records can be posted overseas.