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Part 3

Arriving in Australia

First things first

You are about to start a demanding course and enter an unfamiliar multicultural society. We understand this, and to help ease your transition, there is plenty of support available. Australian institutions have been educating international students for decades and will help you adjust.

When I arrived I spent the first day going around in circles. Lesson number one: the google map is your best friend and always ask for directions if you think you are lost.

KAREN ANAWE

Australia Awards scholar, Papua New Guinea

Portrait of KAREN ANAWE

Student Contact Officer

Your educational institution will appoint a Student Contact Officer to help you while you are studying in Australia.

This officer works with academic and administrative staff to answer any questions you have. They ensure that you have the information and assistance you need to support you and your studies. Support can include daily contact to check you are managing in your new environment, help with your studies and/or emotional support and mentoring.

Be aware that you could be disoriented or distressed soon after you arrive in Australia— moving to an unfamiliar country away from friends and family as well as studying in a new environment is a significant life event. You may experience ‘culture shock’ and/or other wellness issues. Be sure to reach out for help earlier rather than later.

 For more on health and wellbeing see the Staying healthy and happy section of Part 4.

I was really surprised with lots of support and help from the university – there was the International Student Services, Student Success Group, Student Development Group, Career Development Group, Equality Services. There are lots of services and support just for you.

BILGUUN UNURBILEG

Australia Awards scholar, Mongolia

Compulsory Introductory Academic Program

As an Australia Awards scholar you must participate in a compulsory Introductory Academic Program before your course begins. This lasts for around four to six weeks and is a vital first step towards completing your studies in Australia. While participating in the program, you must not be distracted by searching for accommodation or settling your family.

The program is designed by your educational institution to prepare you for the work that will be required to gain an Australian tertiary qualification. It also includes lots of practical advice to help you make major academic, social and cultural adjustments to life in Australia.

By the end of the program, you will be equipped to overcome any barriers that might prevent you from completing your course successfully and on time.

Banking

One of your first priorities on arrival should be to open an Australian bank account. You need a bank account so we can deposit your Establishment Allowance and your Contribution to Living Expenses payments.

To open an account, you will need photographic identification, such as your passport or driver license. Once your account is opened, you can register for internet banking and withdraw cash from automatic teller machines (referred to as ATMs) 24 hours a day, as well as from many shops.

Increasingly, it is possible to set up an Australian bank account from your home country for many Australian banks. You will need proof of identity and other details, such as your arrival date in Australia, the state you will be living in and what sort of visa you are entering Australia on.

In Australia, debit or credit cards are commonly used instead of cash in stores. This system is called EFTPOS, meaning ‘electronic funds transfers at the point of sale’. ‘Tapping’, ‘tap and go’, payWave and PayPass are also very common. This involves tapping your card on the card reader, without the need for Personal Identification Numbers or a signature.

Handy hints

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  • Ensure that you are in touch with your Student Contact Officer—they are one of your most important contacts.
  • Remember that the Introductory Academic Program is compulsory, so you must arrive in Australia in time to complete the entire program. Allow some settling in time too.
  • Open a bank account as soon as you can so that your allowances can be paid to you.

Money matters

From budgeting to organising your rental accommodation and study arrangements, you need to be prepared and organised for life in Australia so that you can concentrate on your studies.

Your scholarship payments

You are responsible for your expenses in Australia and for supporting your family members, should they join you.

Your Establishment Allowance will be paid into your Australian bank account soon after you have opened one—usually within a few days of your arrival in Australia. This will help cover expenses including textbooks, rental bond and insurance. This is currently $5,000 Australian, and is paid into your bank account by your institution. This is a one-off payment for helping set up your life in Australia. The cost of living can be high in Australia and you will not be able to afford to send this money home or spend it on unnecessary items.

Your Contribution to Living Expenses payment is paid every two weeks, to help meet costs such as accommodation, transport, food, entertainment and communication.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade sets the amount of your Contribution to Living Expenses. Your entitlement starts on your first day in Australia and is paid in arrears (that is, it is not paid in advance). It ends five days after your examination results are released if you are a coursework student, or five days after you have submitted your thesis if you are a research student.

Payments are tax free and continue during public holidays and semester breaks, approved fieldwork and reunion visits to your home country, and for up to six weeks if you are hospitalised. Payments will stop if you are suspended from the Australia Awards Scholarship or convicted of a criminal offence.

Budgeting

It is important that you budget carefully while on your Australia Awards Scholarship. Look at the money you have coming in each month and what your expenditure is likely to be. There are many online budget templates, and the Australian Government provides information and guidance online at moneysmart.gov.au for managing your finances. The Insider Guides cost of living calculator is also very useful for planning your budget. This is available at: insiderguides.com.au/cost-of-living-calculator.

It is important to let your family back home know that the cost of living is likely more expensive in Australia and that scholars rarely have ‘extra money’ to send home.

If you want to get some cheap stuff then just go to Salvos [Salvation Army] or Vinnies [St Vincent de Paul] second-hand stores and also if you want to get groceries there are many Asian stores. 

Fajar Djati

Australia Awards scholar, Indonesia

Handy hints

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  • A one-off Establishment Allowance will be paid to you after arrival.
  • You will receive a Contribution to Living Expenses payment every fortnight.
  • Having a plan for your money will leave you feeling less stressed.
  • Ask your Student Contact Officer for tips on how to budget your payments or visit moneysmart.gov.au for tips on preparing a budget.
  • Refer to the Australia Awards Scholarships Policy Handbook.

Living costs in Australia

Knowing the average living costs in Australia is an important part of your financial preparation. Listed below are some of the costs associated with living and studying in Australia for your reference. Note that all costs are in Australian dollars.

The average weekly cost of living for a single person* is:

  • groceries and eating out—$80 to $280 per week
  • gas, electricity—$35 to $140 per week
  • phone and internet—$20 to $55 per week
  • public transport—$15 to $55 per week
  • car running costs (after purchase)—$150 to $260 per week
  • entertainment—$80 to $150 per week.

The suggested yearly cost of living for various households* is:

  • single—$20,290
  • couple—add another $7,100
  • each child—add another $3,040.

* Source: Study in Australia, studyinaustralia.gov.au

ProductEstimated Cost
Granny Smith apples, per kg $5.04
Bananas, per kg $2.60
Broccoli, per kg $4.27
Carrots, per kg $1.90
Potatoes, per kg $3.59
Loaf of white bread, 700 g $3.29
Chicken breast fillets, per kg $11.55
Beef mince, per kg $13.95
Breakfast cereal, 500 g $6.46
Potato chips, 170 g $3.35
Block of milk chocolate, 200 g $4.40
Soft drinks, 1.25 L $2.75
Chocolate biscuits, 200 g $3.46
Instant coffee, 100 g $10.28
Orange juice, 2 L $3.78
Jam, 500 g $3.19
Canned tomatoes, 400 g $1.48
Canned tuna, 425 g $5.81
Olive oil, 750 mL $11.75
Pasta, 500 g $2.22
All purpose flour, 1 kg $3.01
White sugar, 2 kg $3.35
Free range eggs, 12 pack $6.59
Liquid handwash, 250 mL $2.90
Laundry detergent, 1 kg $11.62
Dishwashing liquid, 450 mL $4.01
Face tissues, 95 pack $2.25
Frozen peas, 1 kg $4.46
Block of butter, 250 g $2.45
Block of cheese, 500 g $8.80
Milk, 2 L $3.09

 

Source: CHOICE supermarket price survey 2017

Handy hints

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  • Check for advice on applying for and receiving a student concession card.
  • Always carry your student ID with you on public transport.
  • Research public transport options including routes, timetables and prices.
  • Investigate the cost of buying, running and insuring a car.
  • Research your educational institution’s facilities for cycling, including bike racks, showers and lockers.