If you want to see the world but your budget rules out jet setting, you may need to get a little creative about how you travel. How does a "working holiday" in Australia sound to you? Australia's "Working Holiday" and "Work and Holiday" programs encourage cultural exchange and closer ties between countries by allowing young people to have an extended holiday down under, supplemented by a short-term job (work abroad program).
The two programs are very similar, and which program applies to you depends on the country you are from. For example, a Working Holiday Visa is only available to people between the ages of 18 to 30 from 19 countries including Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Sweden, Taiwan and the United Kingdom.
The Work and Holiday Visa applies to travelers from Argentina, Bangladesh, Chile, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Turkey, the United States and Uruguay. Both programs allow applicants to travel and work in Australia for up to a year, and to get a job for up to six months with each employer. Unfortunately, not all countries are participating in Australia's working holiday programs.
These special visa programs focus not just on cultural exchange, but also on helping Australian employers meet short-term employment needs. Permitted jobs are specified, and may be unskilled, seasonal and/or in rural areas. Specified work could include mining, fishing and pearling, farming, cultivating and harvesting, construction and landscaping, tree felling, or recovery efforts in disaster zones.
The focus of the programs is on holidaying, not working. The opportunity to work is meant to help supplement travel funds and pay living expenses. These are reciprocal programs, meaning that young Australians can take advantage of similar opportunities for cultural understanding through working and holidaying overseas in participating countries.
In order to qualify for a Working Holiday or a Work and Holiday Visa, applicants must be in good health, meet the program's "character requirements" (no outstanding warrants for their arrest!), and declare that they will respect Australian laws and values. They must also meet some basic financial requirements to ensure that they have some funds available to cover the intended length of their stay and their travel plans.
Prospective working holidayers have to apply from outside of Australia. Once granted a working holiday visa, they have 12 months to arrive in the country. Once in Australia, they can leave and re-enter the country during their visa period, and work up to six months with separate employers while traveling about the country. Visa holders are also allowed to study or train for up to four months. Some may have the option of a further 12-month stay, if they qualify for a second Working Holiday visa.
Many working holidayers are drawn to Australia's largest city, Sydney, on Australia's southeast coast. Sydney, sometimes called the gateway to Australia, was ranked one of the world's ten most livable cities by global human resources consulting leader Mercer. Its warm summers and mild winters, the number (over 70!) and beauty of its beaches, and variety of parks and gardens make for a laidback outdoor lifestyle.
It's also a cosmopolitan lifestyle, with vibrant arts and culture, an active nightlife, and exuberant public celebrations including New Year’s Eve, Gay Mardi Gras, Sydney Festival and Vivid Sydney - A Festival of Light, Music and Ideas. And it's an active lifestyle - Sydney is a sporting city. It's citizens and visitors enjoy (and many excel in) surfing, rugby, cricket, soccer, football, field and ice hockey, basketball, baseball, and motorsports. Sydney can also be a relatively affordable holiday, with reasonably priced hostels and campgrounds, a good public transit system of buses, trains and ferries, and lots of free activities for travelers on a budget.
Youth hostels and temp agencies are good places to find short-term work in Sydney, as is the Backpacker Job Board. You can also purchase a Job Club membership for extra support and assistance. Aussie Adventure calls!
Bob Hornal has been a financial advisor for over ten years, and is a super visa insurance specialist. In 2010, he set up BestQuote Travel Insurance Agency to make it easier for clients and visitors to Canada to research and purchase travel insurance.