Perth, the capital city of Western Australia, has a population of around two million people. It is cosmopolitan enough to offer all the variety and excitement an international student might need and yet intimate enough for the city to maintain its famously relaxed and friendly character.
Many international students take advantage of living in an English-speaking country by learning about its culture, customs and practicing language skills. There is no better way to do this than to live with a family in a typical Australian house. Students can have their own room and study area but will be able to part of the family’s daily life. This is called a “home stay”. It means students will be included in family activities and have their meals provided.
Various rental properties are available in Perth to suit any budget. We recommend suburbs close to the Malaga or City campuses (depending on course).
Knowing and understanding Australian customs and laws will help you to adjust to life in the Australian community.
Australia is a tolerant, diverse society with people from many different cultures and ethnic backgrounds. Although English is the national language, there around 200 languages spoken in Australia.
In Australia you don’t have to be the same as other people to belong. Everyone is free to express and maintain their cultural and religious traditions, within the law, and participate and belong as Australians. At first you may not be used to such diversity, however if you are open and respectful towards people, ideas and traditions, which in some cases may be quite new or challenging for you, you are likely to fit in and be successful in your new life.
Equality and Anti-discrimination
You have the right to be respected and to have your needs considered as fairly as everyone else. Similarly you should respect other people, whether they were born in Australia or, like you, from overseas.
Under the Anti-Discrimination Act, no person should be treated worse than others because of age, race, country of origin, marital status, pregnancy, political or religious beliefs disability or sexual preference. Men and women are equal under the law and for all other purposes.
Australia has a tradition of free speech. However, it is unlawful to insult, humiliate, offend or intimidate another person or group.
Crime is usually described as any behaviour or act that is against the law and may result in punishment. Everyone in Australia is expected to obey all Australian laws.
Violence towards other people is illegal in Australia and viewed very seriously. This includes violence within the home and within marriage. Domestic violence is behaviour by a person which may result in the victim experiencing or fearing physical, sexual or psychological abuse and damage, forced sexual relations, forced isolation or economic deprivation.
- Women’s Information Services (08) 6217 8230 (24 Hour Line) / 1800 199 174 (free)
- Women’s Domestic Violence Helpline 1800 007339 (free) or 9223 1188
To drive a car in Australia you must have a driver’s licence and the vehicle you are driving must be registered with the government.
If you are in Perth on a temporary visa, you can drive on your overseas licence (provided it is a current, valid licence) for an indefinite period provided your overseas licence is in English (or you have an English translation), or you have an International Driving Permit.
If you are in Perth on a permanent visa, you can drive on your overseas licence for only three months from the date you entered Australia or from the time a permanent visa was issued to you. If you want to continue to drive in Perth after that time you must apply for a Western Australia driver licence.
For more information relating to licences please contact Transport Perth 13 11 56 or www.transport.wa.gov.au
Disobeying or breaking traffic laws can result in large fines, the loss of your driver’s licence or even imprisonment. There are seatbelts in all cars for adults and older children. You will require government approved restraints for young children and babies.
If you are involved in a road accident you must report it immediately to the police. International students should also ensure that their insurance policy covers them in the event of an accident.
The laws are particularly strict regarding speed limits and driving after drinking alcohol (including riding a bicycle). In Perth your blood alcohol level needs to be less than 0.05% and police have authority to submit anyone driving to a random breath analysis test. It is also illegal to drink while driving. Certain drivers are required to abide by a zero tolerance law, meaning that no alcohol can be consumed if the person intends to drive. Please see the Transport Perth website for more information.
It is also useful to know that it is against the law to use your mobile phone while driving unless you have a “hands free kit”.
Drugs, Smoking and Drinking
There are many laws about having possession of and/or using drugs. Breaking drug laws can lead to severe penalties.
Smoking tobacco is prohibited in a growing number of places in Australia, including most government offices, health clinics and workplaces. Smoking in restaurants and shopping centres is also prohibited in Perth. Non-smoking areas are often indicated with signage.
Drinking alcohol is legal in Australia but only in certain places at certain times. It is against the law for any person to sell or supply alcohol to a person under the age of 18 years. It is also against the law for a minor to drink alcohol except on private property such as a home or in other specific circumstances. Drinking alcohol is also prohibited in some public areas.
For further information:
- Australian Drug Information Network: www.adin.com.au
- Australian Quit Support: http://www.quitbecauseyoucan.org.au/browse.asp?ContainerId=support_services_wa
A clean environment and the protection of nature are important to Australians. It is illegal to litter, create pollution or dispose of waste without permission. Native animals, shellfish and plants are protected by law. In addition there are special rules which apply to National Parks to prevent them being spoilt.
Environment Protection Authority: (08) 6467 5600
There are laws that protect Australians from excessive noise. The regulations vary from state to state but in general neighbours are tolerant of the occasional noise, but if frequent or excessively loud, complaints can be lodged with the local council or the police.
Australia has laws to protect animals from cruelty and neglect. It is forbidden to kill animals in the backyard. People who mistreat animals and birds can be fined or imprisoned. There are local laws on what animals can be kept at home and you should consult your local council regarding registering them.
Australia is a diverse society. The variety of clothing which people wear reflects this diversity. Many people tend to dress casually or informally for comfort or according to the social situation or climate. Many people also choose to wear traditional clothes, which may be religious or customary, particularly on special occasions.
There are few rules on clothing, although there are certain clothing rules for work situations and in certain premises. Clubs, movie theatres and other places may require patrons to be neat, clean clothing and appropriate footwear.
You may find some clothing styles confronting or offensive. For example, some women wear clothes that reveal a lot of their body. You should not judge them by the standards of your previous country. In Australia, no matter what a woman’s style of dress might be, you must not interpret it to mean they have low morals or that they wish to attract men’s interest.
Common Australian Expressions
Many common Australian expressions or slang may seem strange to people new to Australia. If you are unsure what an expression means, it is acceptable to ask. Some common examples are:
- Bring a plate – when you are invited to a social or work function and asked to “bring a plate”, this means to bring a dish of food to share with other people.
- BYO – this means to ‘Bring Your Own’ drink which may include alcohol, juice, soft drink or water. Some restaurants are BYO. You can bring your own bottled wine, although there is usually a charge for providing and cleaning glasses, called ‘corkage’.
- Fortnight – a ‘fortnight’ is a two-week period. Many Australians receive salary or wages every fortnight.
Meeting People and Communicating
When meeting someone for the first time, it is usual in Australia to shake the person’s right hand with your right hand. People who do not know each other do not generally kiss or hug. Many Australians look at the eyes of people they are talking with as a sign of respect and to show they are listening. However, you should be aware that it may make some people feel uncomfortable or embarrass them.
When meeting a new person, many Australians are not comfortable being asked questions about their age, marriage, children or money.
Unless you have been introduced to someone by their first name, or unless you are asked to call them by their first name, it is usual to address them using their title and family name, (e.g. Mr Wong, Mrs Smith, Ms Brown, Dr Lee). In the workplace and with friends Australians usually call each other by their first names.
Australians usually say “please” when asking for something or for a service and usually say “thank you” when someone helps them or gives them something. Not saying this could be seen as impolite.
Australians usually say “excuse me” to get someone’s attention and “sorry” when they accidentally bump into someone. Australians also say “excuse me” or “pardon me” when they burp or belch in public or in someone’s home.
You should always try to be on time for meetings and other appointments. If you realise you are going to be late, try to contact the person and let them know. This is very important for professional appointments as you could be charged money for being late or if you miss the appointment without letting the person know in advance.
Most Australians blow their nose into handkerchiefs or tissues, not onto the pavement. This is also true for spitting. Many people will also say “bless you” when you sneeze – this phrase has no religious intent.
It is also important to know that some behaviour is not only impolite but also against the law. Examples include swearing in public, pushing in line, urinating or defecating anywhere except in a public toilet or private toilet.
Perth has a Mediterranean climate with dry hot summers and mild wet winters. Although most of the rainfall occurs in winter there are still plenty of sunny days to enjoy the outdoor life that is so typical of Western Australia. The climate varies up and down the coast, with the north experiencing much warmer weather than the south. As Perth is located in the southern hemisphere, we experience opposite seasons to those in Europe, North America and most of Asia.
One of Perth’s main features is its safe, secure environment and its low cost of living when compared to Sydney, Brisbane or Melbourne
Note: All prices below are in Australian dollars. Figures are adapted from www.numbeo.com (correct at time of print).
Sample Weekly Budget
- Rent – shared accommodation (average): $150
- Gas/water/electricity/phone (landline): $50
- Food: $100
- Public transport: $40
- Clothing and entertainment: $50–$100
- TOTAL: $420–$470
Perth’s educational institutions and courses are world class. School is compulsory for all children aged between five and seventeen in Western Australia. The government provides public schools. Churches and other groups provide private schooling. You will need to check with the WA Department of Education for the criteria and fee assessment for a public school. Fees are also payable for private schooling.
Note: Students holding temporary visas may be required to pay full school fees. Check with individual schools for details.
Education Services for Overseas Students Act 2000 (ESOS)
The Australian Government wants overseas students in Australia to have a safe, enjoyable and rewarding place to study. Australia’s laws promote quality education and consumer protection for overseas students. These laws are known as the ESOS framework and they include the Education Services for Overseas Students Act 2000 (ESOS) and the National Code.
The ESOS Act and associated legislation protects the interests of overseas students by providing tuition and financial assurance. To find out more about the ESOS framework and how it protects your rights click here to visit the ESOS section of the Department of Education website.
In an emergency, telephone 000 for:
- Ambulance; and/or
- Fire Brigade.
Calls to 000 (triple zero) are free. Be prepared to provide your name, address and telephone number (if you have one), and the type of service you need.
In an emergency, telephone 000 and ask for the “Police”. For non-urgent matters, ring your local police station. Their numbers are listed under ‘Police stations’ in the White Pages telephone directory. There is no charge for police services.
Police in Australia are not connected to the military forces and do not play a part in politics. They aim to protect life and property in the community, prevent and detect crime, and preserve peace. The police may intervene in family issues where there is a domestic dispute or concern about physical, sexual or psychological abuse.
If you need an ambulance, telephone 000 and ask for an “Ambulance”. Ambulances provide emergency transport to hospital and immediate medical attention.
In Western Australia the Ambulance is not a free service. Your OSHC will cover your ambulance cost only when it is required medically for admission to hospital or for emergency treatment.
To be fully covered for ambulance costs, it is advised that you ensure your health cover includes cost for the service of an ambulance.
Collect a membership application form at Australia Post and join over the counter or contact: Ambulance Membership on 1800 648 484.
In an emergency, telephone 000 and ask for the “Fire Brigade”. The fire brigade puts out fires, rescues people from burning buildings and also assists in situations where gas or chemicals become a danger. In non-urgent cases, you can use the telephone number listed under ‘Fire Stations’ in the White Pages telephone directory.
Telephone Crisis Counselling
There are various telephone counselling services including Lifeline which offer free crisis counselling 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. You may be feeling desperate, just need to talk to somebody, or want to use their specialist financial, gambling or youth counselling services.
- Alcohol & Drugs: 9442 5000
- Centre Against Sexual Assault: 9340 1828
- Gambler’s Help: 1800 622 112
- Samaritans Crisis Line: 9381 5555
- Lifeline: 131 114
- Child Protection: 9340 8222
- Family Help Line: 9223 1111
- Women’s Domestic Violence Helpline: 1800 007339 (free) or 9223 1188
- Victims of Crime Helpline: 1800 818 988 (free) or 9425 2850
- Mental Health Emergency Response Line: 9224 8888
- Men’s Referral Service: 9428 2899
- Parent Line: 6279 1200
- Quitline: 137 848
- Poisons Information Centre: 131 126
- Maternal and Child Health Line: 1800 55 1800
Emergency Medical and Hospital Services
Armadale-Kelmscott Memorial Hospital 3056 Albany Highway, Mount Nasura Phone: 9391 2000
Fremantle Hospital South Terrace, Fremantle Phone: 9431 3333
Joondalup Health Campus Shenton Avenue, Joondalup Phone: 9400 9400
Midland Hospital – St. John of God 1 Clayton Street, Midland Phone: 9462 4000
Peel Health Campus 110 Lakes Road, Mandurah Phone: 9531 8000
Princess Margaret Hospital for Children Roberts Road, Subiaco Phone: 9340 8222
Rockingham General Hospital Elanora Drive, Cooloongup Phone: 9599 4000
Royal Perth Hospital 197 Wellington Street, Perth Phone: 9224 2244
Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital Hospital Avenue, Nedlands Phone: 9346 3333
International students may not work in Australia until they have commenced their course. From this point they are permitted to work a maximum of 40 hours per fortnight when their course is in session, and unlimited hours when their course is not in session.
Dependent family members must not start work until the primary visa holder has commenced the course in Australia. Dependent family members can work up to 40 hours per fortnight at all times unless the primary visa holder has commenced a course towards a masters or doctoral degree, and holds a subclass 500 (VET, Higher education, Postgraduate or AusAID/Defence sector) student visa. In this case there is no limit on the number of hours a dependent family member may work.
Tax File Numbers
If you intend to work in Australia while you are studying you will need to apply for a Tax File Number (TFN). These numbers are issued by the Australian Taxation Office and are unique and individual numbers used to identify your tax records.
You need to keep your Tax File Number secure and do not tell people other than for employment and banking needs.
The Australian Taxation Office, in conjunction with Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) have developed an online registration process for temporary visitors to apply via the internet. Online applications can be completed at www.ato.gov.au. All student visas are now granted with work rights.
When you start work, your employer will ask you to complete a TFN Declaration form on which you need to write down your TFN. If you do not already have your TFN, the employer is not allowed to take out more than the normal amount of tax until the standard TFN processing time has elapsed.
If you earn any income in a financial year (between 1 July and 30 June), you must lodge an Income Tax Return by 31 October of that year, unless other arrangements have been made.
Most jobs and working conditions are covered by Modern or State Awards. Awards are legally binding on the employer and cover such working conditions as minimum rates of pay, allowances, overtime, penalty rates, hours of work, and leave for holidays, long service or sickness.
All new employees receive a Fair Work statement from their employer informing them or their rights as an employee. This statement provides a safety net for the employee covered by the national workplace relations system. You should familiarise yourself with this document so that you know your rights as an employee in Australia.
Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC)
It is a requirement that international students have OSHC for the length of their enrolment as part of their student visa requirements. AIWT’s provider is BUPA. However, students do not have to use this provider and can arrange their own. It is the student’s responsibility to ensure that their membership is current while they hold a student visa.
A student’s OSHC will help pay for any medical or hospital care they may require. It will also contribute towards the cost of most prescription medicines and an ambulance in an emergency.
International students are able to access free medical services with participating general practitioners in the CBD. Students will need to present their OSHC card at the time of appointment. This enables medical practices to bulk bill OSHC patients by electronically claiming their consultation fee directly with the health provider.
Other Services: Dental, Chiropractic, Optical and Physiotherapy
OSHC does not cover students for these services. If students want to be covered for these benefits, they will need to pay for additional private health insurance.
The official language is English, however more than 100 languages are spoken by Perth’s residents. Perth is one of Australia’s most popular cities for international students with thousands choosing to live and study here each year. It’s one of the most politically stable countries in the world, where citizens from more than 100 nations live in multi-cultural harmony.
Students are advised not to carry large sums of money with them for safety reasons. Students may withdraw cash as needed from ATMs (Automatic Teller Machines) or from the major banks (ANZ, Commonwealth, Bankwest) that are conveniently located around Malaga or in the City about five minutes’ walk away. AIWT can offer assistance with helping students open a bank account. Please contact us for more information.
Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) have strict quarantine regulations in order to prevent any harm to the environment. Food, plant materials and animal products from overseas, including many common souvenirs, could be harmful and should be declared on arrival.
Prior to course commencement, AIWT staff will provide an Orientation Program that is designed to provide information concerning the course students are enrolling in. AIWT staff remain available for any concerns that students may have with regards to study and/or education information.
Additional support services are available by contacting the International Student Manager, who is available to discuss and provide assistance in all areas of students’ welfare including their accommodation needs and health cover. Students with visa enquiries will be directed to the Department of Education and the Department of Immigration and Border Patrol (DIBP).
The Student Council is available to provide support to AIWT students. Council members meet regularly to discuss improvements to the student learning experience including planning of AIWT events and activities that will make students feel right at home.
Public Transport (Transperth)
Transperth has two types of ticketing, SmartRider and cash tickets.
SmartRider is Transperth’s electronic ticketing system. We recommend SmartRider as it always ensures that you pay the appropriate and lowest fare. SmartRider cards have an initial purchase fee of $10 for standard and $5 for concession cards.
Cash tickets can be purchased from the driver on bus travel. If you are using train services, you can purchase tickets from the Ticket Vending Machines (TVMs) located at all stations. Ferry passengers can either purchase a ticket from the driver or use TVMs located at the jetty.
The Malaga Campus has free parking. Paid parking is available at the City Campus but public transport is recommended due to the high level of accessibility.
International students intending to study at AIWT must obtain a student visa from an Australian Diplomatic Mission or Consulate in their home country before travelling to Australia.
- Letter of Offer and Acceptance from AIWT
- Confirmation of Enrolment from AIWT
- For additional requirements, refer to the Document Checklist Tool on the DIBP website (for example, international students must have Overseas Student Health Cover): www.border.gov.au
These requirements are intended as a guide only and may vary from country to country. For applicants from some countries a preliminary, pre-visa assessment may be required by the Australian Diplomatic Mission or Consulate in your country.
- A Student Visa is required for students wishing to study more than three months.
- Student Visa students are required to be enrolled on a full-time basis i.e. 20 hours a week.
- Student Visa students are required to attend a minimum of 80% of scheduled class time.
- Student Visa students are required to have overseas health cover throughout the duration of their course.
- Visas must not expire during period of study.
- If you have school aged dependents intending to be students, school fees may be incurred.
AIWT is obliged to report to the Australian Government (DIPB) any student who has unsatisfactory classroom attendance, lack of progress in their studies or late payment of fees. Such a student may be asked by the Government to leave the country.
RPL (Recognition of Prior Learning or competency)
- If RPL is granted prior to visa approval, course duration will be adjusted accordingly.
- If after a Student Visa is granted, RPL leads to a shorter course duration than stated on their COE, the student may choose to enrol in another full-time CRICOS registered course or will need to depart Australia immediately after course completion.
Students from most countries may apply for an extension within Australia, if required.