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Work and volunteer in Australia FAQ

Work and Volunteer in Australia frequently asked questions

If you intend to work while you are on holiday in Australia, you must apply for the correct visa before you arrive. The Australian Government has strict laws regarding employment of non-citizens and penalties for breaking the law. This applies to all types of full-time, part-time, casual, shift and voluntary work. Visit the Department of Home Affairs website for more information on the types of visas that legally allow visitors to obtain employment while in Australia.  

Australia offers a Working Holiday Maker program that allows young adults from participating countries to have an extended holiday in Australia and earn money through short-term employment. There are two types of Working Holiday Maker visas: Working Holiday visa (Subclass 417) and Work and Holiday visa (Subclass 462). The visa you should apply for depends on your country of residence. These types of visas allow you to stay and work in Australia for up to 12 months. 

Yes. You must be aged between 18 and 30 years at the time of applying for your visa. Canadian, French and Irish citizens can now apply up to the age of 35. 

Work and Holiday Visa (subclass 462)
For visitors holding passports from Argentina, Austria, Ecuador, Chile, China, Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Indonesia, Israel, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Peru, Poland, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Thailand, Turkey, Uruguay, the USA and Vietnam.

Working Holiday Visa (subclass 417)
For visitors holding passports from Belgium, Canada, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Republic of Ireland, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Taiwan and the UK.

There is currently a non-refundable charge of AUD $485 per visa, depending on the date of your application. 

Once you are granted a Working Holiday Maker visa, you will have 12 months to arrive in Australia. You are allowed to stay for a maximum of 12 months from the date that you first enter the country. With the completion of specified work, you may be eligible to extend your stay in Australia with a second (or even a third) Working Holiday Maker visa. See below for more information on the requirements for second and third-year visas.

Yes. You can leave and re-enter Australia any number of times while the visa is valid.

You can undertake temporary employment in Australia for up to six months with any one employer. You can also study for up to four months. 

WHM visa only lasts 12 months, but if you meet certain criteria (including doing three months of eligible work, such as farm work, in parts of rural or northern Australia), you have the option to apply for another 12-month visa, which means you can stay in Australia for a total of two years. Recent changes, however, have just made an Australian working holiday even better: from 1 July 2019, you will be able to extend your stay for a third year. Read more about how you can stay in Australia for three years on a Working Holiday visa.

There are many different industries that are approved for specified work for a 417 visa and a 462 visa. This work must be completed in regional Australia and excludes Sydney, Newcastle, the Central Coast, Wollongong, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Melbourne and Perth.

There are heavy penalties if your Working Holiday visa expires and you have not left Australia or applied for another visa. You may also not be allowed to return to Australia for a period of time. Get more information on the options available to you if your visa is expiring or has expired.

There may be options if you wish to stay temporarily or permanently in Australia at the end of your working holiday. Explore visa options for working in Australia.

The visa you should apply for depends on your country of residence.

See the above list to see if your country is eligible for a Working Holiday Maker visa. Get detailed information on the requirements for this visa as well as instructions on how to apply here.

If you are a resident of a country not included in the Working Holiday Maker program, click here to find out which visa subclass you should apply for.

A Working Holiday Visa (Subclass 417) and Work and Holiday visa (Subclass 462) can generally be issued in around six days. Second Working Holiday visas take around 14-21 days to process. Processing times may be affected by factors such as the completeness of applications lodged and additional checks performed by visa processing officers, such as those relating to health and character.

You can do any kind of lawful work on your working holiday visa including full-time, part-time, casual, shift and voluntary work. There are a number of industries around Australia that regularly hire Working Holiday makers. See what types of jobs are most common for Working Holiday makers around Australia.

There are several avenues to explore when it comes to finding a job in Australia. If you prefer a solution that helps you transition smoothly, explore work programs such as Alliance AbroadThe Global Work & Travel Co. and Work N Holiday. They guarantee work opportunities for working holiday makers throughout the duration of their stay. The program may include airport pick-up, an induction to help you get established and social activities. They may also help you set up housing, provide training and even help you set up your bank account and tax file number (TFN).

You can study for up to four months during your 12-month visa. The working holiday programs are not suitable for those seeking to study full-time in Australia. If your primary reason for coming to Australia is to study you should ask about a student visa, which may better suit your needs.

The Department of Home Affairs will grant you a student visa if your course is registered, or part of a registered course, on a full-time basis. Under a student visa, you’ll have access to Australia’s subsidised student health cover and can apply for permission to work part-time. For more information visit studyinaustralia.gov.au.

For your Working Holiday Maker visa application you must demonstrate that you have access to sufficient funds to support yourself for the initial stage of your holiday. As a general rule, about AUD $5,000 is considered sufficient. You should also have a return or onward ticket for your departure, or the funds for a fare to depart Australia.

Wages in Australia are generally high when compared with other countries. The current national minimum wage is AUD $19.49 per hour or AUD $740.80 per 38 hour week (before tax).

All employees working in Australia have rights and protections at work. The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) can help you understand your rights while working in Australia. Their service is free.

The FWO has information in 30 different languages, and storyboards (short videos) in various languages to assist you to understand your rights and obligations in Australian workplaces.

The FWO also has tailored information for working in the fast food, restaurant and café industry and the horticulture industry. Select your preferred language from the drop-down menu available at the top of each page.

You must be paid money for the work you do in Australia. The amount you need to be paid can depend on your age, duties and hours of work. Use the FWO’s Pay Calculator to make sure you have the right pay rates.

A pay slip must be given to you each time you are paid. Visit the FWO’s pay slips page to find out what should be included on yours.

Make sure you keep a record of the hours you work, the places you work and the type of work you are doing. Use a diary or download the FWO’s Record My Hours app. The app is available in various languages and is free to download from Google Play or the Apple App Store.

The FWO can help with workplace issues. You can’t get into trouble or have your visa cancelled for contacting the FWO for information about your pay or other entitlements. If you have a question about your workplace rights while working in Australia, you can ask the FWO online, or call them on 13 13 94 during business hours. If you or someone you know needs an interpreter when contacting the FWO, call the Translating and Interpreting Service on 131 450.

If you want to stay up to date with Australia’s workplace laws, follow the FWO on Facebook and Twitter.

Taxes will be deducted from any money you make. Before you can get paid you will need to open an Australian bank account. It’s also advisable to obtain a tax file number (TFN) to ensure you receive all due entitlements. Find more information on how to open a bank account and get a TFN here.

In Australia, superannuation is a regular payment made into a fund towards a future pension. These payments are made on top of your salary and wages when you earn more than AUD $450 per month. If you are a temporary resident who works in Australia, you are entitled to receive a superannuation guarantee (also known as ‘super’) from your employer/s.

Normally you can only access your superannuation when you retire. However, temporary residents can claim their super when all of the following criteria apply:

  • They visited Australia on a temporary visa (excluding Retirement visa holders and Investor Retirement visa holders)
  • Their visa has ceased to be in effect (expired or cancelled) 
  • They have left Australia
  • They are not an Australian or New Zealand citizen, or a permanent resident of Australia

This payment is known as a Departing Australia Superannuation Payment (DASP). See ato.gov.au for more information.

Volunteering is a great way to get involved with a local community and deepen your Australian experience. WWOOF (Willing Workers on Organic Farms) place travellers on organic farms, where farmers provide flexible jobs in exchange for accommodation and meals. Expect to work half a day for a full day’s board. This model applies to a huge variety of other volunteer roles, from rescuing turtles in Cape York to organising arts festivals in Arnhem Land. You could also sign up as a Conservation Volunteer and work as part of a team to help preserve precious Australian eco-systems. Your meals, accommodation and travel to and from the project are provided.  There are also lots of global organisations offering volunteer research expeditions and volunteer holidays in Australia.