Useful Information on Living in Australia

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The Australian Government

Australia is so vast that it has multiple governments that run different regions of the country. This means that the laws will vary depending on where in Australia you will be living.

The Language Barrier in Australia

Language will not be an issue for British expatriates planning on living in Australia, where English is the primary language. Although locals will speak Australian English, a Brit will have no issues with communication aside from colloquialisms. You will just need to be aware that there will be some variations in spelling and grammar.

Weather & Climate

You’ll face quite the change in climate and weather if you decide to live in Australia. In the UK, we’re used to long cold winters with what seems like endless rain. However the winter in Australia is often still quite hot, to our standards. It is also one of the world’s driest continents which could be quite the struggle for an expat to adjust to. It’s also worth being aware that the seasons are opposite to the UK. December to February is an Australian summer, and June to August is winter. This can be a shock for British expats moving to the southern hemisphere for the first time. When living in Australia, you will face climate events that the UK hasn’t prepared you for. Major climate issues in Australia include dust storms, bushfires and tropical cyclones. One that could be familiar to you is flooding, which is a possibility in some areas of Australia.

British Embassy in Australia 

There are four British Consulate buildings and one High Commission in Australia, in Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, and Canberra. Find details for each of these on the gov.uk website.

British Consulate Sydney

Address:Level 16
Gateway Building
1 Macquarie Place
Sydney, NSW 2000
Phone:(+61) (0) 2 9247 7521
Fax:(+61) (0) 2 9251 6201
Website:https://www.gov.uk/world/organistations/british-consulate-general-sydney
Office hours:Local Time
Mon-Fri: 10:00 – 16.30

Emergency Services Contact Information in Australia

Emergency Service          Contact Number
Police / Ambulance & Fire Services000

Health

You are strongly advised to visit your GP 8 weeks before you move to Australia, so they can explain to you the health risks you could face. It also means you can receive the necessary vaccinations for your new life in Australia. The average life expectancy in Australia is 80 years old for men and 84 years old for women –  the fourth highest in the world. This is despite high risk of mortality from smoking, hypertension, and skin cancer.

Australia has excellent healthcare services, both public and private. It also has a reciprocal arrangement with the UK government that allows a British national to benefit from some of their public healthcare service (Medicare), when visiting the country. Expats with permanent visas are also eligible for Medicare cover. However, the Australian government strongly encourages those living in Australia to arrange private health insurance. This is because treatments and services that are not covered by Medicare can be very expensive if you do not have insurance. Find out more about the health care services in Australia here.

Driving In Australia

Just like at home, you’ll be driving on the left hand side of the road in Australia – plus the quality of driving there is similar. In the major cities, the road infrastructure is generally good, however, many of the roads in the outback are unpaved. Driving in the outback is considered to be dangerous, especially for a foreigner. It is recommended that you check the weather forecast before any long journeys and that you take some provisions with you. These should include: drinking water, food, fuel, blankets, and matches. It is also recommended that you invest in a car mobile with an antenna as many remote regions do not have mobile service. You can drive on your UK driving licence for 3 months after arriving in Australia. However, it is recommended that you acquire a local licence sooner rather than later.

Getting your Australian Driving Licence

The Australian governments consider the UK to have a similar driving authority standard as them,
which means you will not be required to take a driving test when you apply for a local driver’s licence.

In Northern Australia

In order to transfer your UK driver’s licence to an Australian one, while living in Northern Australia, you will need to provide the following to the Department of Transport:

  • A valid UK driver’s licence
  • An international driving permit
  • Proof of passing an eye test
  • A completed copy of this form
  • Evidence of identity and residency

In Queensland

In order to transfer your UK driver’s licence into an Australian one, while living in Queensland, you will need to visit a Transport and Main Roads Customer Service Centre, a QGAP office or a local police station. You will need:

  • A valid UK driver’s licence
  • The correct Licence Fee
  • Declaration that you are medically fit to drive
  • A completed copy of this form
  • Evidence of identity and residency

In Western Australia

In order to transfer your UK driver’s licence into an Australian one, while living in western Australia, you will need to submit an application with the Driver and Vehicle Services centre or regional agent. You will need:

  • A valid UK driver’s licence
  • The correct Licence Fee
  • An official document with your signature
  • A completed copy of this form
  • Proof of identity and residency

Legal Requirements

The legal minimum driving age for people living in Australia is 18 years old.  Similar to in the UK, Australia operate a driving licence points system, called “demerit points”. Once a driver gains 12 demerit points in a 3 year period, he/she will receive a driving suspension. Australia has one of the toughest child restraint laws in the world. Failure to comply with these laws will be the responsibility of the driver. You will receive demerit points on your licence along with a hefty fine. Australian authorities are also strict on driving while using a mobile phone. If caught doing this, you will receive an on the spot fine and demerit points. The maximum blood alcohol content (BAC) allowed in Australia is 0.5%. If your BAC is measured at above this you will face severe penalties. These include; an appearance in court, a high fine and demerit points on your licence. Drivers caught driving above the limit a second time could also face prison time and driving suspensions.