There are some skilled positions and industries that can’t get enough backpackers and have incentives to lure overseas workers. For example, nurses are in high demand.
While Dolly Parton sang about the problems of working nine to five, office and temping jobs can be good ways of making a living. Agencies often have plenty of positions available for PAs, sales and marketing and opportunities in accounting and financial services. Temping also gives you the flexibility to leave at short notice and you’re often paid weekly. On the flipside, the employer only needs to give you one day’s notice.
Hospitality skills especially open up opportunities in Australia, with the al fresco scene vibrant all year round. So if you want to cook, pull beers or wait tables, keep an eye on the local newspaper and feel free to drop your resumé in to restaurants, asking to see the manager.
Be aware that states and territories have different legislation governing the serving of alcohol. In some states you are required to complete a one-day course in Responsible Service of Alcohol (RSA). In NSW these cost around $85.
Hospitality is a fun industry and is quite transient, making for regular job opportunities. Similarly, working in a resort town is a fun way to spend your working holiday. This option may lead you to Queensland resorts, the laidback lifestyle of Western Australia and the Northern Territory, or in April-July, another option is ski resorts.
For those of you who like to get their hands dirtier than Tiger Woods’ conscience, then the harvest trail is for you. Plus, if you work as a “seasonal worker” in regional Australia for three months you can extend your Working Holiday visa for a second year. More info atwww.immi.gov.au.
You’ll find plenty of work on either side of the Murray River, from Adelaide to western Victoria and NSW. You’ll also find plenty of work in WA and Tassie, living life on the land and getting a real taste of Australiana – pubs, VB, dust and utes. You could be reaching for tree crops like avocados, apricots and citrus, or you may be foraging with ground crops like corn, pumpkin, strawberries or sugarcane. Find out more at www.jobsearch.gov.au/harvesttrail.
RATES OF PAY
Ah, the big question on every interviewee’s lips. The one you’re too scared to ask about. Temping and office work can vary greatly from $15 up to $60 an hour for specialised professions. Likewise, working in IT gives a decent return.
A job in hospitality will have you earning anything from around $14 an hour up to about $24, but bear in mind jobs with lower wages often get better tips, plus there’s often bonus rates (such as double time on public holidays). Also, you might get paid less at resorts, but it might be easier to blag free trips, dives, ski passes etc.
Harvesting is all about how gung-ho you are. Harvesting work is paid either by the hour or by the “bin”, which normally works out more profitable if you’re willing to put the effort in.
TAX AND SUPER
When you cease working for an employer, make sure you get a payment summary, showing your total income and amount of tax withheld. It is essential to keep this for your compulsory tax return.
The tax form (to be completed after the end of the tax year on June 30) may seem like a chore, but isn’t too complicated. Plus, if you’ve not worked full-time for the whole year you’ve almost certainly paid too much tax, meaning you’ll be in line for a tasty windfall, often over $1,000.
You can either do the form yourself or pay an agent to do it (normally about $100). When filling in your tax return ask yourself, “Am I a resident for tax purposes?” Anybody staying in one place for any length of time can say they are, and so receive a tax-free threshold and a lower tax rate. Info at www.ato.gov.au.
Another one to remember is your superannuation contributions (which is like a state pension). If you earn over $450 a month, your employer is obliged to pay contributions (equal to nine per cent of your salary) into a fund. When you leave the country you can claim them back. This can be a hassle, but again, agents will take the stress out of it for a fee. Unfortunately, you will be taxed between 30 and 40 per cent on your claims and you cannot make the claim until you have left the country.