Relocation Guide

 

Relocation Guide

Relocation guide to living and working in Albany and the Great Southern

Thinking of moving to the Great Southern?
 
The Great Southern is a fantastic region to visit and if you’re looking for a change of lifestyle, an excellent place to relocate to.
It is one of the nine regions of Western Australia and officially comprises the local government areas of Broomehill-Tambellup, Cranbrook, Denmark, Gnowangerup, Jerramungup, Katanning, Kent, Kojonup, Plantagenet and Woodanilling, with Albany its administrative centre.
 
The region covers an area of 39,007 square kilometres (15,061 sq mi), a population of approximately 54,000 and enjoys a Mediterranean climate, with hot, dry summers and cool, wet winters.
 
The economy of the Great Southern is dominated by livestock farming and crop-growing and the region has some of the most productive cereal grain and pastoral land in the State. It is also a major producer of wool and lamb, while Albany is a major fishing centre.
 
The Western Australian Government provides information and services to people who are considering a move to this part of the State.
 
If you’re an overseas skilled or business migrant or thinking of relocating from elsewhere in Australia and would like to take advantage of opportunities in our region, local councils can connect you with information about employment and training.
 
Here are links to all the shires in the Great Southern.
 
 
Visas

It is important you have all the necessary travel documents and are holding the correct visa when you enter Australia. Immigration is overseen by the Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC). You can find detailed information about visas at www.immi.gov.au.
 
Bringing a pet to Australia

The guidelines for bringing a pet into the country are stringent and the process is lengthy. You need to plan early and check regulations in your own country as well as Australia. The amount of time your pet spends in quarantine depends on the country you’re arriving from. Pets usually spend 30 – 60 days in quarantine, for which you must pay. For further information, go to: www.daff.gov.au/aqis/cat-dogs
 
Employment

Newcomers to the Great Southern find work in in a plethora of industries; from teaching and engineering to information technology and plumbing.
 
Searching for employment involves looking at the advertised job market, tapping into business networks and approaching companies directly, as there’s always the strong possibility that a situation is vacant, but has for whatever reason, not been advertised.
 
Albanygateway.com.au is a great resource for job hunters. Many local employment agencies and a wide range of businesses advertise their vacancies in our classifieds/jobs section. Our job ads change daily, so be sure to check the website regularly.
 
Also, check out the following websites, as they all advertise employment opportunities in Albany and the Great Southern.
 
Earnings vary widely across industry sectors and between public and private sectors. For information on workplace rights, rules and pay rates, visit www.fairwork.gov.au.
 
For a guide to your occupation’s salary range, visit www.mycareer.com.au/salary-centre and select WA in the drop down menu.
 
For further information on occupations and salaries, go to www.hays.com.au/salary
 
If you thinking about starting a new business in the Great Southern, the Small Business Centre, located at the same address as albanygateway.com.au can offer assistance.
For further information, visit www.albanybusinesscentre.com.au/
 
Renting or buying a property

Looking for a rental or a place to buy? Albany has a good selection of reputable real estate agents, many of whom advertise with us here.  
 
Most homes in the Great Southern are sold or leased through a real estate agent, who must be licensed. The Real Estate Institute of Western Australia (REIWA) provides lists of agents by geographical area on its website at www.reiwa.com.au as well as codes of conduct and other useful information.
 
The Department of Commerce has detailed information about renting or buying a home in WA at www.commerce.wa.gov.au/consumerprotection.
 
Alternatively, check out albanygateway.com.au classifieds in the Real Estate section or To Let/House Swap section.
 
Temporary accommodation
 
Upon arrival, many new residents choose to stay in temporary accommodation such as a motel or hotel to allow time to search for a more permanent home. Remember to try and book accommodation as far in advance as possible to ensure availability. Short-term accommodation always has a high level of demand especially during peak holiday seasons and major regional events.
 
If you do choose to stay in temporary accommodation when you arrive in the Great Southern, you may need to put your belongings into storage, until you make longer-term plans. There are a number of storage facilities here on albanygateway.com.au.
 
Renting a home

When renting a property, it is important to understand the rules and regulations governing the real estate and renting sector. If you’re a tenant or a landlord, you should be aware of lease agreements, rental and pet bonds, home inspections, owners’ corporations, repairs and maintenance.
 
Make sure you thoroughly inspect your rental property before you sign an agreement. Check everything works, if possible in the presence of the real estate agent. Record, photograph and date any issues which are not detailed in your rental inspection agreement and ensure the agent is fully aware of these matters before you sign the lease.
 
You will also be required to pay a bond and most likely rent in advance.
 
For further information regarding your rights and responsibilities as a tenant and the process for renting a property, visit www.commerce.wa.gov.au/consumerprotection.
 
Regional newspapers have rental property listings, or contact a real estate agent directly about current vacancies. To find a comprehensive list of properties for sale or to rent in the Great Southern, visit www.realestate.com.au or www.domain.com.au.
 
Education and childcare
 
The Great Southern has a wide range of high quality educational services to provide you and your children with a seamless transition from early childhood to the school system and beyond.
 
Early childhood services
 
Available childcare includes kindergarten, long day and occasional care. These services are required to be licensed. For a list of some, but not all, childcare services available in Albany and the Great Southern, visit www.echildcare.com.au/region/south-western-austra.
 
Other children’s services
 
The Communities for Children – Lower Great Southern, is part of the Australian Government’s Family Support Program, providing prevention and early intervention to children at risk of disadvantage and are disconnected from childhood services.
 
Community hubs provide evidence-based children’s activities and parenting information sessions to improve family functioning and promote child development.  Each hub has developed its own program in response to local needs.
 
For a list of organisations providing these services, visit www.amityhealth.com.au/programs/communitiesforchildren.aspx
 
Schools
 
Most Great Southern students attend government schools. For information about a school in a particular area, visit www.det.wa.edu.au/schoolsonline/home.do
 
In addition to government schools, our region has a number of religious and independent schools. For further information, visit the Association of Independent Schools of WA website at www.ais.wa.edu.au.
 
The Great Southern’s school year begins in late January or early February (depending on the year) and ends in December. There are 13 years of school, divided into primary and secondary.
 
Schooling is compulsory from the beginning of the year a child turns 6 years and 6 months of age. Most children in WA are enrolled in kindergarten or pre-primary programs available for four and five year olds. Education is compulsory for students until the end of the year in which they turn 17.
 
WA law requires school-aged children to attend school or participate in an educational program of the school, on the days in which the institution is open for instruction, unless a written agreement has been arranged.
 
If your child is absent from school, parents or carers are required to inform the school within three days of being away. You can do this by phoning, emailing, sending a note or letting the school know in person.
 
To enrol a child into a Great Southern school you will need to provide the following:
•    Evidence of the child’s date of birth
•    The names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses of the child’s parents, guardians or carers and the address at which the child will be residing
•    Contact details for emergencies
•    Doctor’s and dentist’s contact details
•    Health and welfare information, ie: does your child have asthma, diabetes, allergies, poor eyesight or hearing, or specific custody arrangements?
•    An immunisation status certificate
 
Health and welfare - Medicare
 
Many regular health services, including general practitioners and hospital care is free or available at a low cost through Medicare, which is funded by the Federal Government through taxation and the Medicare levy.
 
To be eligible for Medicare services you must be an Australian citizen, have a permanent visa or have applied for one. New Zealand residents are eligible for Medicare.
 
A fee is charged for some healthcare services. You can pay the account and then claim the benefit amount back from Medicare. If paying by EFTPOS, most doctors’ surgeries will now take a payment from your card and then reimburse you the Medicare rebate.
 
Australia has reciprocal healthcare agreements with Finland, Holland, Italy, Malta, Republic of Ireland, Sweden and the UK. Residents from these countries may be eligible for some
Medicare services.
 
To find out more, visit www.medicareaustralia.gov.au.
 
Private health insurance
 
Australia has a dual healthcare system – public and private. Public services are available to Medicare members for free or at a minimal cost. If you’re not covered by Medicare, you will have to pay the full costs.
 
Many residents also take out private health insurance, even though they qualify for Medicare. This is also recommended if you’re not eligible for Medicare. Taxpayers who earn above the Medicare levy surcharge threshold and don’t have private insurance are required to pay a surcharge.
 
There are numerous private health insurers in Australia. To find out more, visit www.privatehealth.gov.au.
 
Ambulance and emergencies
 
The phone number for nationwide emergency services (ambulance, fire brigade and police) is 000.
 
Please note that Australian ambulance services are not free and a trip can cost more than $5,500. If you have private health insurance it may cover ambulance costs, but check your policy to see what is exactly provided. For example, some policies only provide ambulance cover for one journey a year. To ensure you’re protected, become an ambulance member, which costs $37.50 a year for individuals and $75 for families.
 
Hospitals
 
Australia has private and public hospitals most have emergency wards so you can be treated after hours. You will require private health insurance to be treated in a private Australian hospital otherwise you will be required to pay the full cost of services.
 
Before purchasing private health insurance, ensure you understand how much cover it provides. You may also be required to pay an excess fee to cover the gap between what the hospital charges and the amount for which you are covered by health insurance.
 
Government benefits and payments
 
Government benefits and payments are provided through the Federal Government agency Centrelink, which can help you with social security payments, family tax and childcare benefits. However, many Centrelink services are only available to Australian citizens or permanent residents.
For further information, visit www.centrelink.gov.au.
 
Sunburn
 
Australia has one of the world’s highest rates of skin cancer, so ensure that you protect yourself and your family from the sun’s UV rays.
 
Protect yourself by wearing a hat, sunglasses and protective clothing and make sure you keep in the shade wherever possible. And don’t forget to slap on SPF30+ sunscreen to any exposed skin.
 
For further information, visit www.sunsmart.com.au.
 
Driving a vehicle
 
If you’re from the UK, you may surprised to learn that vehicles in Western Australia do not need an MOT certificate or an equivalent.
 
If you’ve arrived on a temporary visa, you can drive on your current, valid overseas licence indefinitely, as long as it is in English (or you have an English translation), or you have an International Driving Permit.
 
If you have a permanent visa, you can only drive on your overseas licence for three months from the date you entered the country, or from a time when a permanent visa was issued to you. Once this period has elapsed, you must apply for a Western Australian driver’s licence if you wish to continue driving.
 
Drivers from the following countries do not have to complete a test if their overseas licence is valid: Austria, Belgium, Canada, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UK and USA.
 
If you have a full driver’s licence, it is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol content above 0.05 per cent, whilst a probationary or learner licence holder must have a zero reading.
 
It is also illegal to use a hand-held mobile phone when driving. You must use a hands-free device or pull over to the side of the road if you wish to use your phone.
 
Seatbelts are compulsory for drivers and all passengers in Western Australia.
 
To find out more about WA’s road rules and regulations, visit www.transport.wa.gov.au/licensing/20425.asp
 
Essential home services
 
Power and water
 
Households can choose between different providers for gas and electricity, but water is only available from a single organisation.
 
The Economic Regulation Authority (ERA) is the independent economic regulator for Western Australia. It regulates gas, electricity, water and rail companies as well as providing licenses for those suppliers.
 
For further information, visit www.erawa.com.au
 
If you planning to rent and don’t have time to arrange the connection of your essential services, www.connectnow.com.au or www.utilityone.com.au will organise everything from your internet and telephone services to power and water for you.
 
Telecommunications
 
Local telephone calls in Australia are low cost and not timed, so if you talk to your friend in the same town for a minute or an hour, the cost will be the same.
 
However, higher, timed rates apply to long-distance domestic and international calls and mobile phones. International phone call rates vary from country to country and also depend on your service provider’s plan.
 
To make an international call from Australia, first dial 0011 followed by the country code, area code and phone number.
 
If you plan on making regular overseas calls, pre-paid phone cards are a cost-effective option and can be purchased from supermarkets, newsagents and online.
 
The Do Not Call Register allows you to reduce the number of unwanted telemarketing calls you receive. The register only accepts numbers if they are primarily used for private purposes. Once you’ve enlisted your phone number with the register, it is illegal for telemarketers to call you.
 
For further information, visit www.donotcall.gov.au.

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