The transport systems in Brisbane and Sydney operate differently and have different rules for international visitors. Please ensure you read the information relevant to the city you will be living in.
Brisbane Public Transport
The public transport system in Brisbane is known as TransLink. There are three main types of public transport; train, bus and ferry (boat). Transport costs are calculated on the number of zones traveled. There are also Scooter and bicycles that can be easily rented on an hourly basis.
gocard is TransLink’s electronic ticket that lets you travel on TransLink’s bus, train and ferry network. Electronic tickets are cheaper than paper tickets, are easily topped up, offer great travel benefits and you can register your card to protect your travel balance if it is lost or stolen. You can buy or top-up a go card at many locations, including some Queensland Rail and busway stations, selected newsagents and 7-Eleven stores.
Tertiary Students Concession
A 50% concession fare is available for tertiary and post-secondary students on all TransLink public transport services, regional qconnect bus services and approved regional ferry services. ASMI can also arrange discount cards for all their international students.
Students in South East Queensland can now apply online for tertiary concession fares on their go card. Students in regional Queensland (outside the go card network) can now apply for a tertiary concession sticker on their student ID.
Note: Concession fares are not available on Airtrain services.
Please note that English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students (ELICOS) students are not eligible to receive concession.
For more information about public transport in Brisbane, go card and TTCC visit translink.com.au.
Sydney public transport
There are four main types of public transport; train, bus, ferry and light rail (Tram). International students are not entitled to transport concessions, students who use public transport a lot may like to purchase a special International Student 90- or 365-day MyMulti ticket. An international student ticket will let you have unlimited travel in the zones you choose (MyMulti 2 or 3).
For more information about public transport in Sydney and MyMulti tickets visit http://transportnsw.info/international-students
Driving in Brisbane (QLD) or Sydney (NSW)
If you are planning to drive in Brisbane or Sydney, and your licence is in a language other than English, you must carry your overseas drivers licence and a recognised English translation or International Driving Permit. You must also ensure you understand the road rules. For more information visit qld.gov.au/transport (QLD) orrms.nsw.gov.au (NSW).
Cycling in the city
Riding a bike is a fun, healthy and a sustainable way of getting around the city. Using 2 wheels can also save you time and money.
Brisbane has introduced CityCycle, a form of environmentally friendly public transport in the inner city area. The bike stations are in locations that link with existing bikeways, busways, buses, trains and ferries within inner-city Brisbane. CityCycle allows users to:
- pick up a bike from one of 150 bike stations
- go for a ride
- return the bike to another bike station.
If you are a registered go card user, you can link your go card to your CityCycle account. For information on this service and its costs visit citycycle.com.au.
Sydney has a number of cycle ways around the city and holds free cycling courses which have been designed to develop the skills and confidence required to be an effective bike rider in Sydney. For more information visitsydneycycleways.net.
There are many banks and automatic teller machines (ATMs) where you can withdraw money from an overseas bank account. Students do not need to pay bank fees in Australia. You can easily open a bank account within the first six weeks of arriving. All you will need is your passport and a student ID card. After six weeks, opening a bank account becomes more difficult, as you will have to show many forms of identification.
Budgeting for ongoing expenses
When you live and study away from home, it can be easy to spend your savings quickly, so it is also a good idea to prepare a budget to help you manage your expenses.
The Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) recommends that as a single adult, you will need approximately $18,610 per year for living expenses. If bringing family with you, an additional $6,515 per year for a spouse, $3,720 per year for one child and an additional $2,790 per year per additional child. These costs do not include the expenses associated with your tuition or your children’s school tuition. For more information visit immi.gov.au/students.
Examples of ongoing expenses you may incur:
- utility payments e.g. electricity, gas, every three months
- telephone/mobile, monthly
- living expenses e.g. rent, food, transport, entertainment, weekly
- educational expenses e.g. photocopy, printing, stationery etc.
- unexpected expenses e.g. return home, family visits, health costs not covered by overseas student health cover.
For advice on what ongoing expenses might occur and how to create a budget, visit the Australian Securities and Investments Commission website moneysmart.gov.au/life-events-and-you/under-25s/studying/studying-costs-money
Schools for dependent children
School attendance is compulsory for all children in Australia aged between six and 17 years of age, with most children commencing school at five years of age. In Australia, there are two main types of schools: government or state (which are public schools) and private or independent schools.
It is an immigration policy that school-age dependents of international students undertake formal schooling while they are in Australia. Students will need to provisionally enrol their children in a school before leaving their home country and will normally have to pay the school fees 12 months in advance.
List of public schools in New South Wales:
NSW Independent Schools:
List of schools in Queensland:
School-age dependents of international students studying at the Sydney campus will be studying in New South Wales, students studying at the Brisbane campuses will study in Queensland. Where the student lives will have an influence on choice of school.
More information about attending school in New South Wales, can be found at the NSW Department of Education and Training International website: decinternational.nsw.edu.au/study/schools/temporary-residents#which-visas-qualify
More information about attending school in Queensland, can be found at the Education Queensland International website: eqi.com.au
As an international student you may be eligible to work in Australia. It is advisable to contact DIBP to find out exactly what your work rights are, as there are differing work conditions between visas. If the label on your visa says work limitation, this means you have permission to work.
If you are planning to work there are a few things to remember:
- you must have permission before you start working
- you cannot start working before your course of study starts
- you can only work up to 40 hours per fortnight during the semester. During semester holidays, you may work as many hours as you like.
For more information contact the:
Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP)
There are multiple private employment agencies in Australia that advertise vacancies through employment websites and ASMI can help you source work through our FREE job ready program.
Working conditions (employer/employee rights)
If you work in Australia, your job will have certain conditions associated with it. Most jobs and working conditions are covered either by Commonwealth or state awards or certified agreements. This covers areas such as minimum wages, allowances, overtime, penalty rates, working hours and days off for holidays/vacations, long service or sickness. If you believe you are not receiving your minimum rights and conditions at work, contact the Fair Work Ombudsman for free information and advice. There is also an interpreting service available.
Fair Work Ombudsman
1300 724 200
13 14 50 Translating and Interpreting Service
Students may seek to have a unit(s) of competency formally recognised by transfer credit or recognition of prior learning. Duration of study may be affected where credit(s) are obtained and may affect your student visa.
Applying for a TFN
You can apply for a TFN free of charge on the ATO website. You will need your passport details to complete the application.
Applying online does not require you to physically provide proof of identity documents. The ATO will compare your personal and travel details with the DIBP’s records. After validation, the ATO will issue you with a receipt number.
Alternatively, you can visit an ATO shop-front for a hard copy application. Your TFN will be sent to the Australian address you provided on your application within 10 working days.
Australian tax year and tax returns
The Australian financial year runs from 1 July to 30 June. Under Australian law, those who work are required to lodge annual tax returns by 31 October of each year. If you are unsure if you are required to lodge a tax return, contact the ATO for clarification.
Australian Taxation Office
13 28 61 or ato.gov.au
Superannuation refers to the arrangements which people make in Australia to have funds available for them in retirement. Superannuation in Australia is government-supported and encouraged, and minimum provisions are compulsory for employers.
Under superannuation law your employer must put an amount equal to nine per cent of your earnings into your super fund. As an individual you can choose to make additional contributions to your superannuation fund.
In most cases, you can access your contributions when you leave Australia permanently. For more information contact the ATO.
Superannuation information line 13 10 20 or ato.gov.au/super
If an emergency arises, ambulances provide immediate medical attention and emergency transportation to hospitals. Emergency medical treatment is available 24 hours a day at both public and private hospital emergency departments and may also be available at some medical centres. Charges may apply for emergency transport as not all transfers will be covered by health insurance.
For any emergency, call 000 from your mobile for an ambulance, the police or fire service when in Australia (an emergency in Australia is classed as ‘when you feel your life or the lives of others are in danger’).
Note: if there is no network coverage when calling 000 from a mobile phone, try calling 112. It can be dialed on any digital mobile phone.
If you need to visit the hospital remember to bring your health insurance card and details of any medicines that you are currently taking. If it is not an emergency, go to a doctor or GP (called a ‘general practitioner’) or visit a medical centre.
If you take any prescription medicines in your home country, you should make sure you have a letter from your regular doctor. The letter should include details about your condition and the medication you are taking, in case you need treatment or more medication in Australia.
Health insurance – Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC)
OSHC is compulsory if you have a Student Visa, and must cover you for the entire time that you stay in Australia. ASMI can arrange this for you if required. The insurance will cover you for some medical treatment costs incurred whilst in Australia. A number of services, including dental, physiotherapy, optometry, podiatry, chiropractic and private hospital services require extra cover arrangements to be made with your OSHC provider. Additional fees are associated with these services.
You can order a membership card online by logging in to your provider’s website. You will need your student ID number, family name and date of birth. Your membership card will be delivered to your residential address within approximately five business days. If you are unable to obtain a membership card online, contact the International Student Manager for help.
If your attendance is affected by your illness, ensure that you get a medical certificate from your doctor. You will need to show your membership card when you pay for your medical visit, if you are making a claim with your provider ensure you keep the receipt.
Further information about overseas student health cover (OSHC) can be found in the Department of Immigration and Border Protection’s OSHC factsheet.
Safety and legal information
Your rights and those of other people are protected by Australian laws and we all must abide by them.
Personal safety advice is available on the Queensland Police website police.qld.gov.au and the NSW Police website police.nsw.gov.au.
As a visitor to Australia, you are obliged to obey the same laws and follow the same rules as Australian citizens. Breaking the law can result in fines, imprisonment or deportation.
In Australia all people are equal and should be treated equally under Commonwealth anti-discrimination law. Everyone has the right to be respected and treated in a fair manner. No person should be treated differently because of their gender, race, country of origin, marital status, pregnancy, political and religious beliefs, disability or sexual preference.
Laws about sexual discrimination also makes sexual harassment unlawful. A person is sexually harassed if he or she feels frightened, offended, angry or humiliated by another person’s behaviour that is sexual in nature.
A student who believes that he or she is being discriminated against should contact the International Student Manager.
Smoking, drinking and drugs
Smoking is banned in many places in Australia, including all airports, government offices, health clinics and workplaces, restaurants and shopping centres, and within four metres of a building entrance.
Smokers must also dispose of their cigarette butts in garbage bins – not on the ground.
Drinking alcohol is banned in some public places, regardless of age. You must be 18 years or older to buy alcohol, cigarettes and tobacco products and may be required to show proof of age when making a purchase.
All drugs, other than those prescribed by a doctor or general practitioner, are illegal in Australia.
Education Services for Overseas Students (ESOS) framework
The Australian Government is committed to ensuring you have a great education experience in Australia. The ESOS Act and related laws protect international students through:
- The ESOS legislation and recent reforms
- The National Code
- The Overseas Students Ombudsman
- The Tuition Protection Service
Further information about students’ rights and obligations under the ESOS Framework can be found in theESOS Framework Student Fact Sheet.
Legal Aid specialises in criminal, family and civil law. They offer legal help information, advice and representation across all areas. Their information and advice services are free.
Legal Aid Queensland Legal Aid New South Wales
1300 65 11 88 1300 888 529
To make sure your trip to the beach is safe and enjoyable, there are a few simple guidelines you can follow:
- always swim or surf at a beach patrolled by lifesavers
- don’t swim at night
- always swim between the red and yellow flags
- always swim under supervision, or with a friend
- read and obey the signs. If you are unsure of conditions, ask a lifesaver
- don’t swim directly after a meal
- don’t swim under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- don’t run and dive in the water
- conditions change regularly, always check surf conditions before you enter the water
- if you get into trouble in the water, don’t panic, raise your hand to signal for help, float and wait for assistance
- always float with a rip current or undertow. Do not swim against it
For further information and the Beachsafe App visit beachsafe.org.au
The sun in Australia is very strong and can cause sun damage. To avoid sunburn and lower the risk of developing skin cancer, follow these simple precautions:
- apply 30+ broad-spectrum sunscreen 20 minutes before you go outside
- apply sunscreen regularly
- wear water-resistant sunscreen if you are swimming
- wear a broad-brimmed hat that covers your whole head and your ears and neck
- wear sunglasses that meet the Australian Standard (AS 1067) to block out damaging ultraviolet rays
- wear a shirt with a collar and long sleeves
- reduce the amount of time you spend outside during the hottest period of the day. Schedule outdoor activities before 10am or after 3pm during the hotter months