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Defence Community Organisation

For ADF members and their families

1800 624 608

Life in Australia

Information about Australia, our history, culture, system of government and government services can be found at www.australia.gov.au .

  • Australian stories - Australian history and culture are organised by themes such as Australian identity, history, Indigenous culture, music and performance, natural environment, and the visual arts and crafts.

  • Information and services - Links you to information and services on Australian federal, state and territory resources.
  • Government - A range of information about our government. Here you'll find lists of Australian departments and agencies, government services, how to contact and engage with government and parliament, where to enrol to vote, how to locate government publications, and how our system of government works.
  • Calender of events - Find out about special events including calendars of events and event finders.

Financial matters

You should consult the ADF Financial Services Consumer Council publication You and Your Money in Australia to ensure that you have an understanding of your general obligations and entitlements regarding your financial matters. The publication contains very useful information on citizenship, tax, health care, retirement benefits, insurance, banking, housing, buying a car, social security, child support payments, foreign country pension schemes, universities, wills and estates, powers of attorney and more.

Visit the ADF Financial Services Consumer Council - Transferring to the ADF from Overseas for more information.

Transfer of money to Australia

It may take some time to access money transferred for more significant purchases (for example, to buy a car or a home). Check with your current financial institution in your home country to determine how to transfer money from one institution to another, and how long it will take. Before your arrival in Australia, it is highly recommended that you open an Australian bank account. You should research whether the institution exists in Australia or consider finding reciprocal institutions.

Credit cards can also be used to access cash advances or withdrawals 'over the counter' at banks and from many Automated Teller Machines (ATMs), depending on the card. Note that cash advances on credit cards may incur immediate interest charges. Cards such as Diners Club and American Express are not as widely accepted and in some cases, not accepted at all.

Foreign currencies or cash can be readily accessed at any bank or exchange bureau. Traveller's cheques generally attract a better exchange rate than cash, although some banks may impose a commission. Some Australia Post outlets also exchange money.

Tax

To ensure that you are taxed correctly, you must apply for an Australian Tax File Number (TFN) as soon as you arrive in Australia. Information about taxation can be found at the Australian Government Taxation Office (ATO).

After you have arrived in Australia, it is recommended that you get financial advice so you can make informed decisions on all your financial matters. You will need to ensure that you have all the available information to in order to report the correct declarable income amounts in Australia. Failure to declare the correct assessable income to the ATO may result overpayments and a debt and the possibility of heavy fines being imposed.

The majority of goods and services include a Goods and Services Tax (GST). The rate of GST is currently 10 per cent of the value of a product or service. The GST is recorded on all tax invoices (receipts) and should appear on any quotes you may seek. If it is not shown, it will be included in the cost, but you should ensure that you know how much you will be paying in total.

Driving with an overseas licence

A person who is intending to become a permanent resident must get an Australian drivers licence three months after arrival in Australia. In the interim, their current foreign licence will apply. If the licence is not in English, a translation is required which must be carried while driving.

The Australian Government link to Registration and Licences will provide the relevant information about the state or territory legislation and requirements including how long you can drive using your foreign licence, and when you must apply for an Australian state or territory licence.

Proof of identity

Ensure that you bring government-issued identity documents for all members of the family including original birth certificates, passports, marriage certificates and name change documentation. These will be required for many applications you may need to make, such as opening a bank account, obtaining a driver's licence, utilities in your home, purchasing mobile phone cards and internet connection.

Phone and internet access

For international calls, you should investigate the best options available at the time of setting up your home. Some telephone/mobile service providers will offer international call rates. Some internet service providers also offer competitive rates for international calls.

Landline or wireless internet access set-up is offered by the majority of service providers in Australia. Wireless is very quick to establish, while landline (to your home, using the land phone network) takes longer depending on your home locality. There is a good range of service providers to choose from and most are easily accessible in supermarkets, electrical goods retailers, post offices or telephone retailers.

It is also possible to sign up for wireless internet access from a number of service providers (eliminating the need for a land line). Increasingly shopping centres, cinemas and restaurants provide free access to Wi-Fi.

While awaiting the arrival of your personal computer equipment, you may choose to access the internet through an internet café commonly in shopping centres in major cities. Smart phones enabled for use in Australia are also available from all major outlets. There are several service providers with varying levels of service who can provide more details on price and accessibility to suit your requirements.

Power supply

In Australia, the mains voltage is 230V 50HZ. Recruits from Europe should not need a voltage converter. Exceptions are Japan, USA and Canada which use 100/120V 50/60HZ.

If your country of origin does not use appliances within the 230V 50Hz mains voltage range, you may need to purchase a voltage converter. This will transform the voltage from the power outlet into one of your appliances. You will also need a power adapter (see example below).

Some appliances run on a variety of mains voltages. Your appliance should be marked with this information or mentioned in the product's instruction booklet.

If your country of origin does use the same mains voltage as Australia, you will need a power adapter. This enables you to plug your appliances into the power sockets in Australia, which have two flat metal pins fitted diagonally, some may contain a third flat pin (earth pin) in the centre. Voltage converters or power adapters are not required if New Zealand is your country of origin.