Work in Australia

So you are now allowed to go live in Australia but can you work in your field?

One of the initial things you need to consider is whether you can actually work in Australia the field you are trained and qualified for. Not only does Australia have stringent criteria for overseas qualifications and recognising them; there are state differences as well which need to be factored into your relocation planning.

Below is a story of our journey highlighting some important points. We did learn some things the hard way, so hopefully with this knowledge you can plan a bit better for your journey and not be surprised by the Australian qualification system.

Our quick story…

My wife is a Radiographer by trade (that is, takes X-rays on people) and has done so for a very long time with all the relevant New Zealand qualifications. We knew she had to be registered with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency. We went about getting her Radiography qualifications recognised within Australia, as without this recognition she could not touch an Xray machine. This whole process took many months and cost hundreds of AUD. We did this process whilst she was still working in NZ and while we were gearing up for the move to Australia, There are also a whole bunch of differences in this industry to remain qualified whist you are working and something which we are currently working through.

Before the move to Australia we failed to identify how long it would actually take to get a local Queensland (QLD) radiation licence. Even though she has been recognised by the federal Australian agency to practice radiography in Australia, she still cannot work in the state of QLD until they give her a licence to use radiation (and us pay a lot more AUD for the privilege). This process has taken 3 months (which we thought would take a week or so) and she is still not working (The licence has literally just turned up in the mail as I write this – how ironic). So now she can officially work in the state of QLD as a Radiographer. Yay.

Lesson – do your homework on all aspects of getting your qualifications recognised and never under estimate how long it will take for Australian agencies to process your foreign qualifications.

[box type=”info”] Lesson – do your homework on all aspects of getting your qualifications recognised and never under estimate how long it will take for Australian agencies to process your foreign qualifications.[/box]

Click here for qualification and skills recognition in Australia.

Have you ever heard of salary sacrifice (or salary packaging)? Simply, salary sacrifice is an arrangement between you and your employer where you pay for some items or services straight from your pre-tax salary. You can salary package computers, cars, childcare and super, to name a few. This can reduce your taxable income and put more money in your pocket. BUT…YOU CAN SALARY PACKAGE RELOCATION COSTS AS WELL!! This works well for you if your new employer is not paying for you to move AND they agree for you to salary sacrifice (the only cost to them is in administration costs when doing your pay each fortnight or month).

Let me explain –

The cost of moving to Australia can be expensive; especially if you are moving 2 adults, 2 children, 1 x cat and a 5 bedroom house load worth of stuff. Salary sacrifice, in particular relocation expenses will alleviate some of the massive costs incurred for the move to Australia. Some of the information below is taken from here.

Here’s how –  

  • If your employer agrees to it you can salary sacrifice a range of relocation costs incurred by you.
  • These costs range from shipping costs of your home contents, airfares to get to Australia, stamp duty on buying a new home to live in, legal fees to sell your current home, agents fees on selling your current home,connecting your utilities, such as electricity, gas and telephone to your new home. etc etc. Refer to the link above about for specific items you can include.

The beauty of this arrangement is it costs the employer nothing (apart from administration costs) in terms of Fringe Benefit Tax (FBT). They call this FBT FREE but some rules apply (so again, see your new employer or accountant). Here is the Australian Tax Office link for further information. 

  Example – 

  • Say you will earn $100,000AUD at your new place of employment.
  • All your relocation’s costs amount to $50,000AUD (just using big round numbers)
  • You could claw back $20,669 savings in tax in the year after you move to AustraliaUse this calculator. 
  • It is worth doing more homework on if you can claw back a lot of the moving costs to Australia and if you meet the Australian Tax Office’s criteria.

Superannuation in Australia

In order to maximise the tax benefits of putting your own savings (on top of your compulsory employer contributions) into a superannuation; you are able to put savings directly from your pre-tax salary/wage into your superannuation account and then only be taxed at 15%. This is commonly known as salary sacrifice (similar in idea to salary package above). The total amount per year you are able to contribute to your chosen superannuation fund and be taxed at only 15% (including your employers contributions) is $25,000. If for example your employer ends up putting $10,000 into your super fund, you should top this up another $15,000 in order to take advantage of the small tax rate on this amount from your initial pre-tax salary or wage. It works best for people on wages or salaries above about $37,000. 

An awesome superannuation calculator for this is here.