A major drawcard for international students looking to study in Australia is the freedom to work while you’re studying.
The minimum wage in Australia is almost double that of both the USA and the UK, there are fewer restrictions on where you can find work, and you can work 40 hours per fortnight during the semester and unlimited hours during breaks. The question is, can you get part-time work in regional areas and what does it involve?
With advice from Clara Koch, the Student Connections Coordinator at Charles Sturt University, this is your guide to part-time work in regional areas around Australia.
What is considered regional work?
Regional areas in Australia are locations outside the major metropolitan cities of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. They are classed as designated regional areas for migration purposes and can be a good place to find job opportunities, as businesses in regional areas need seasonal and regional workers. You might be wondering where it’s best to do regional work. We suggest thinking about what type of job you would like to do and have the skills for and then searching for opportunities in that field of work.
Jobs on offer
The jobs on offer in regional areas don’t differ too much from those in the biggest metropolitan areas.
It’s worth researching your study destination to see which industries are most prominent. For example, the Riverina region in New South Wales is one of Australia’s biggest wine-producing regions. Riverina is comprised of two regional cities, Wagga Wagga and Griffith, both of which are renowned for their wine production. So, if you study in this region, you may have the opportunity to work part-time at a winery.
In popular tourist hotspots, such as Bathurst and the Sunshine Coast, international students will find plenty of work in hospitality, to help businesses manage with all of the extra visitors to the area.
A top tip from Clara for those seeking work in hospitality: “Having your RSA (Responsible Service of Alcohol certificate) is key to working in some restaurants and you can complete it online.”
In other regional centres, like Wagga Wagga, Wollongong and Armidale, you’ll find plenty of jobs in hospitality, retail (e.g., supermarkets, clothing stores) and possibly even in agriculture or tourism.
Smaller cities, such as Adelaide, Perth and the Gold Coast are all classified as ‘regional’ areas, and the most popular jobs here for international students include working in retail, hospitality, administration and at your education provider.
Most regional areas have aged care facilities that are always looking for assistance in care-taking tasks, kitchen work, or cleaning.
Additionally, many regional cities offer positions in factories. For example, the Riverina region is home to many types of facilities, including abattoirs, canneries and agricultural factories. Companies like Sunrice and Graincorp have some of the most prominent agricultural factories in the area.
The Riverina region – and many other regional areas – is also known for their seasonal work opportunities in fruit-picking, farm work and tourism work. Known as the “food bowl” of New South Wales, the region is one of the biggest food sources in Australia. With such a high level of importance comes a high demand for seasonal workers. If you would like to know more about what farming work is available in Australia, check out our guide here.
How long can I do regional work in Australia?
Since both part-time and casual jobs are readily available in regional areas, it is important to know what your options and availability are as an international student.
Part-time work involves working less than 38 hours per week (remember, the maximum for international students is 40 hours per fortnight) in a regular pattern of hours. Part-time workers get entitlements, such as annual and personal/carer’s leave on a pro-rata basis – this means that it is based on how many hours they usually work.
Casual workers are not guaranteed a certain number of hours each week, but will usually get a casual loading (an extra percentage added to their rate of pay) instead of entitlements.
Where to look for regional jobs
Websites such as Seek, Indeed and Jora are all helpful when starting your job search. A lot of the time, you can apply for positions directly through each website.
Utilise your education provider’s careers support services. For example, Clara recommends having support staff review your resume before looking for a job in Australia. Most providers will have a dedicated page on their website advertising jobs that are designed for students.
“Make contact with your Student Support Officer, speak to other international students and go direct to cafés and restaurants with your resume,” advises Clara.
Visiting businesses with physical copies of your resume, approaching employers in person and introducing yourself can make a good first impression, and they are more likely to remember you. Meanwhile, speaking to other international students about their experiences and ask questions about how to do regional work. You can gain insights on what to expect and how to prepare yourself for the job.
Finally, always remember to…
“Network! Ask your lecturer, volunteer… consider joining a Club or Student Representative Committee to get an insight into Australian culture,” shares Clara.
The minimum wage in regional areas is exactly the same as in metropolitan areas – $20.33 per hour, or $25.41 per hour for casual employees. Because of this, tipping is not mandatory in Australia; workers are paid a liveable wage without having to work for tips.
Best of all, the cost of living in regional areas tends to be lower than in Australia’s major cities, which means while you’re making the same amount of money, your earnings will go further and it will be easier to save.
Things to note when looking for a job in regional Australia
- Public transport: Transport to and from your place of work can be a little more difficult than in metro areas, as public transport may not run as frequently. If you know that you will be working at night, make sure you have established a safe way to get home.
- Seasons: Many regional Australian workplaces – particularly in retail, agriculture, and farm work – operate in ‘seasons’. If you are a casual worker, during busy periods (national holidays, summer and school holidays) you are likely to be working more hours, while you should expect fewer hours during slower times.
- Rights: You have exactly the same rights in regional areas as workers in metropolitan areas. For details on your rights as an international student, check the Fair Work Ombudsman website.
- Skills and certifications: Make sure you are aware of the certifications or clearances required for the job. For example, your RSA or a first-aid certificate.
“[International students] bring fresh and unique ideas [to the workforce]… they are flexible and adaptable. [Their] multilingual ability is [a great asset] for the hospitality and tourism [industry],” says Clara.
Working in regional areas can be a fantastic part-time pursuit to consider while you are studying.