How good does my written and spoken English have to be?
At least 4.5 on the IELTS score, 6.0 is preferable.
What is wrong with flying to Brisbane via Sydney?
You need to allow at least 4 hours for the connection and most travel agents do not know this. The procedure is: land and go through Customs, collect your baggage (yes, even if you have checked it through to Brisbane), then you go through Immigration and this could mean having all your baggage x-rayed. Walk to the other end of the International Terminal and check in for Domestic – this can take up to 1 hour – you then take a bus to the other Terminal. These buses leave every 20 minutes and take 10 minutes for the round the airport joy ride. You then check in again at the domestic flight gate to Brisbane. This invariably means that you will miss the flight allocated for you by your unwary travel agent back home and have to be put on another one. At this point please phone the greeter and let them know which plane you will be on and she will meet you.
What is mobile phone (cell phone) coverage like? and do I need a phone?
Networks such as Vodafone offer cheap rates, but when it comes to signal, they only cover the major cities and nowhere else! 99% of participants who buy into this network end up purchasing another, if not a whole new phone package because their current phone is locked to Vodafone.
Optus is good for cities, most coastal towns and some country towns.
The best rural coverage is offered by Telstra Next G, but still there are blackspots in the coverage . For this reason, presently only one of the training farms can get mobile calls so participants are able to use the office phones to talk to employers and family where necessary.
Most employers require you to have a working mobile phone, even if the majority of the station does not get signal. This is because often you will need to run errands in town and they will need to contact you. If for example you drive 2hours to get supplies and something else is needed, it is a long way and waste of time and money to send you again! VisitOz also need to be able to contact you, especially to discuss second jobs and to give a number to an employer who may be interested in employing you.
We sell Telstra “Pre-Paid” (pay-as-you-go) sim cards and basic ‘rural tick’ (approved for best rural coverage) phones with sims included.
We also sell micro-sims for i-phones, tablets etc. However on farms phones can often get damaged and many participants prefer to buy a cheap handset and save their expensive phone for later when they are travelling.
How long are most jobs and how long are most employers expecting me to work for?
Most employers are looking for participants to work the season – about 3months. However you can work for one employer for up to 6months if they have enough work. There are some shorter jobs such as harvesting but you should be prepared for about the 3month mark (internship visa exceptions apply).
Why will being a smoker limit my job offers?
Many employers see cigarettes as a potential fire risk. It is easy to see why as most bushfires are started by irresponsible disposal of cigarette ends.As farmwork is a lifestyle and not a job with set breaks, many farmers do not agree with the amount of time wasting cigarette breaks bring, and they may simply not be able to accommodate them. As it is very possible you many be living with a family, other reasons for preferring non-smokers is that many farmers do like smokers around their children or the smell of smoke in their employee accommodation quarters, farm equipment and vehicles and/or other places on the farm. Visitoz will advertise you to employers as a smoker whether you only smoke ‘occasionally’ or all the time. If you say you are a non-smoker, we will expect you NOT to smoke during your training programme.
Why do I have to wear safety gear? And what do I need to bring?
What we request are the Australian health and safety recommendations and are for your safety during your training week AND at your employment.
Please refer to your booklet for more detail- long sleeve COLLARED shirts and thick trousers may seem hot but they will protect you against injuries from falling off bikes and horses, from the sun/snakes
Non laced boots are VERY important – laces getting tied up in machinery/stirrups is a hazard. Boots also protect against snake bites.
99% of farmers request that you come with a broad brimmed hat – VisitOz provides a free broad brimmed hat as part of the package.
All clothing requirements are for your SAFETY and you will not be able to take part in the course without them.
Can you explain a bit about what I need to do to in order for you to organise my Tax file number, Bank account and Medicare card?
Everyone in Australia must have Tax File Number (TFN) which is essential for legally working in Australia. The current tax rate for non-residents is 32.5%, but without a TFN you will be taxed at 46.5% . To apply for this we will need your Passport number, home address and date of birth details prior to your arrival into the country. (Please make sure these are written CLEARLY on your application form otherwise we will not be able to process the application) Tax file numbers can take up to 28days to arrive but usually is comes within a week. We apply for you the moment your plane lands in the country so that the number has more chance of arriving to the training farm before you leave us.
We will apply for a Medicare card for those who come from reciprocal countries. It can take about 2-3 weeks to arrive
(UK, SWEDEN,THE NETHERLANDS,FINLAND,NORWAY,ITALY,MALTA, BELGIUM ONLY) . You will need to bring a EUROPEAN HEALTH CARD if you come from these countries– the Medicare office will always accept these and they are easy to obtain from your home country.
Also accepted is the Internationellt Forsäkringsbevis from Forsäkringskassan if you are Swedish. If you are a British or Norwegian or Finnish subject your National Insurance card .For Italian citizens you need a certificate of residence in Italy if you wish to have the free Medicare(valid for 6months only).
We will also need a Driving Licence copy (with Photograph) or Birth Certificate copy if you do not have a Driving Licence.. Please PRINT OUT YOUR VISA CONFIRMATION AND BRING IT WITH YOU.
It is essential to have an Australian bank account. We work with Commonwealth who offer a free account. They provide debit mastercards which means you can purchase on line – very important when you are booking flights/buses from a rural location. You will be given full instructions about the process to set up your account once your application is accepted.
Can the greeters meet me at the airport during times other than Thursday morning?
Airport greeters can meet those arriving on Thursday morning (day one of the programme) at the international terminal.
Those coming into the domestic terminal who are transiting in Sydney must allow time for transiting through to the international terminal- we recommend at least 4hours for the connection. They will often then be asked to take the shuttle bus ($5) from the domestic terminal to the international to meet up with the rest of the group.
If you find that flights are cheaper by arriving a day or so early, we may be able to accommodate a meet for you, however greeters work for VisitOz on a part time basis so we will be able to let you know whether this is possible closer to the time as they will not be able to commit far in advance.
During the day it is very easy to take the AirTrain to Roma St (approx. $16) or the best option, The Shuttle Bus direct to the YHA (approx. $15-20)
VisitOz will be able to book you an extra night/s at the YHA hostel which will cost $33 to be paid on arrival.
If arriving in the middle of the night then VisitOz will not be able to collect you but it is very easy to take a taxi (approx. $40).
Is it possible to find work with a friend/partner?
It is possible under certain conditions. You must have a similar level of farm skills e.g both good horse riders to be accepted on the same farm by one employer. If not you must be willing to compromise and go with a job that matches the skills of the lesser qualified participant.
VisitOz works with the seasons and they are REAL paid jobs that come up each week. You must be flexible with what type of work that is offered and be willing to do anything. You must also be prepared that you may have compromise on job location or the rate of pay and/or wait a bit longer for a job at your own expense. Jobs for two are not as common as single placements.
The same applies to couples and the female has to be prepared for the fact that domestic work or childcare may be the option for her. If couples only wish to do their own thing, and not compromise for each other, the best thing would be to split. However we do not recommend this and as long as couples are flexible we can find them work together.
Can I obtain my second year visa with jobs offered through your programme?
99% of the farm work jobs we offer are in the right area code to qualify for the second visa and you can obtain your second visa while working there. If you are not suited to outdoor work/ if you are looking for hospitality or childcare positions then you cannot obtain the second visa though VisitOz.
Can you guarantee me a horse riding job?
Riding positions are never guaranteed. However it is likely that you will offered work riding if you have significant experience. Many of the employers we work with have very expensive and often difficult horses so they have to make sure they have the right people riding them. Remember this is a job, not a holiday on a farm.
The the employer needs a job done and he is paying you to do it. For this reason you will never be 100% riding, there may also be a lot of ground work, groom work or cattle work in the yards which is all part of working with horses.
We offer horse work in cattle mustering, polo yards, show jumping stables, racing studs and training and working young horses.
The jobs available are often dependent on the seasons, but you must be prepared for all scenarios and willing to work in all areas as we can never predict elements such as the Australian weather that can dictate the job market. If you are staying for the full 365 days VisitOz will be able to look for a second job for you in a different field later on during the year.
Persons over 68kg must realise it is less likely to get a riding job.
How far in advance should I book the programme?
To make sure you get a place on your preferred Thursday it is best to book between 4-6months in advance. Any later and you may have to be flexible by a week or two. VisitOz are very busy in high season. This is Aug- Nov and Jan- Feb so please book as early as possible.
Do I have to stay the whole year?
No. You are under no contract with us, however we offer support for the full 365days of your membership should you need us.
After your first placement and with money in your pocket, you are free to travel, return home or after a short holiday, return to us for another job. Most jobs require about three months commitment so coming for any shorter length of time means you will need to be flexible with job offers
When/how often does the introductory course run?
Almost every week of the year, excluding 4weeks in December/Early January. This is due to the wet season and employers who employ less during the Christmas period. Occasionally there is an odd break week during other times of the year.
How long does it take for my working holiday visa to be granted?
Providing you have no criminal conviction and you have a valid passport, a few days at the most. However it is better to be more prepared than that! Please do not apply for your visa or book any flights before you have received an acceptance letter for the VisitOz programme.
Where are your jobs located?
You could be offered a job placement anywhere in Australia so you must be prepared to travel and work in a remote location. You must also have the funds to travel to that job from the training farm. VisitOz says at least $900 available when you arrive depending on how much you are planning to see and do in Brisbane and at Rainbow Beach. Most travel costs are between $200-400 and because of the variety of jobs on offer we cannot factor this cost into the programme. In saying this we have a lot of work on offer in Queensland and New South Wales because we are based on the East Coast and have many contacts. To be safe, and to cover food /tourist activities from the Thursday – Sunday of the programme, stick to the $900 recommended amount. If you find you have spent all your money on trips to Fraser Island and cannot afford to pay to get to your job, VisitOz will not be able to compensate for this so please budget!
How soon following the training do I start paid work?
Almost all jobs start the Monday following the course and you have the weekend to travel to your job. However with such large parts of Australia being so remote, Australian transport services are limited and occasionally you may have to wait a few more days to connect.
Please be patient and be prepared to ‘go with the flow’ , accounting for hostel and food expenses along the way is a good idea. Unforeseen circumstance such as extreme weather can also be another factor that may delay your journey so be prepared!
Occasionally an ideal job may come up with a delayed start and participants are asked to take a short holiday or do some sight seeing along the way.
If I am skilled in farm work, why do I have to take the training course?
The training course is an introduction to farm work and above all a safety course to make sure you are prepared for work on an Australian property. You are shown how things are done here and how your employer will expect you to work. The way things are done in your home country may be very different from the Australian way and by ‘ Australianizing’ your existing skills you will get a head start.
The course is also designed to enable us to assess the skills that you say you have. We assess your level of English to make sure you are safe enough to be sent to paid positions and we take into account your manners and your attitude to work to determine which employers will suit you best.
The VisitOz team put much time and effort into job matching and this is why we have so many trusted employers who chose to select workers through VisitOz as opposed to other means.
You are not expected to learn everything in a week so whether you are skilled or not, it is also great experience and a chance to meet new people!
What will I get paid?
VisitOz worked with the Pastoral Award Level 1 Farming and Livestock Hand Award Wage. This is the legal minimum for employers to start you on, however there are a lot of employers that pay a bit above this.
If you consider the cost of living and recreational activities in a city, the amount to be SAVED by living and working at the same place is significant. Especially if you are an unskilled farm worker, or quite often straight out of school with no prior work experience. If you prove yourself f to be a good worker and trusted employee there is a good chance your wage will go up.
The most important thing to remember is that farm work is a lifestyle, not a 9-5 job. Most employers expect you to work 6days per week and this is sun up to sun down. Livestock do not know about Sundays, Bank holidays or Christmas breaks and still expect to be fed, milked and mucked out. There maybe times when you will not work but be paid. For example if it rains heavily or you are asleep in the back of a truck for a 6hour journey between stations. On the other hand you may have to move cattle, camping along the way and working 12days straight. For this reason you are paid weekly rather than daily or hourly to balance things out.
If you are very skilled (GPS combine harvesters drivers for example) and in combination with arriving in the right season, and the right employer is looking, you may be able to earn per hour which can make for a much higher wage. This should not be expected by the average person but it is very possible.
Why do I need a driving licence?
- The majority of the jobs that VisitOz offer are on properties that can only be reached by car. Employers always require their workers to drive somewhere. A major job role for employees often involves running errands in the local area or even driving for several hours to the nearest town. People with licences will always be favourable over those without
- In addition to the necessity of a licence is having the actual ability to drive manual gear boxes. Moving farm equipment around the homestead, taking fencing items out for repair work and moving livestock is also a vital part of everyday life on a station.
- If you are unfamiliar with how gears work on a car, it is unlikely you will have preexisting knowledge of how to drive a two-wheeler motorbike, four wheeler quad bike or a tractors prior to joining the programme. In saying this we don’t expect everyone to be able to do these things, but having the basic knowledge of manual gears on a car aids greatly when you are taught about more advanced vehicles and machinery. We want our participants to enjoy the training course and have the confidence to try these things. Without the foundation of manual gear box knowledge, it is like learning to run before you can walk.
- Remember these are real jobs and we need to be able to ‘sell’ you to an employer. Without a car licence, employers will be looking for some other skills that may be of interest to them to outweigh your lack of licence. Tractor or motorbike experience will be unlikely attributes if you cannot drive a car, and this only limits your choice of job options further.
- By far the most important reason is SAFETY. The majority of accidents that occur on the training farm and also when on the job, are by those who have never driven a car before and we do not want to put our participants, staff or employers in any dangerous situations.
How many hours do I work?
Farm work is a lifestyle not an hourly wage. If you are expecting a job that starts at 9am and finishes at 5pm with the weekends off, then VisitOz is not for you. You will be expected to work from sun up until sun down, 5-6 and at times, 7days a week. Animals don’t wait for people to get out of bed or understand public holidays. If there is a long muster to do you may be camping out for 10days in a row, there may be a bushfire that burns for days and you will be expected to help save the property, not clock off when your hours have finished. On the other hand, if it rains, you may not work for 4days until things dry up, or you may be paid to sleep in a truck for 6hours while you travel to another property for work. If you try and calculate what you will earn per hour it will never be accurate, this is why the majority of our employers pay per week. Remember food, accommodation, travel costs and tax is all included in your wage so calculating what you ‘earn’ per hour will at best give you a figure of what you can ‘save’ which can often be close to zero in many city jobs.
What is the accommodation like?
We have worked with close to 2000 employers over the past 22years and so this a difficult question to answer. You could be living in homestead with a family, in workers cottages, in caravans and even camping or travelling in a truck. In all instances you should remember that this is workers accommodation, NOT A HOTEL. If a previous participant leaves it in a standard that is not to your liking, it is your responsibility to tidy it until it is to your liking. It will be basic, probably bland and very dated. There may be spiders, frogs or geckos , or bore water that stains the toilets brown. But the most important thing is that it will be FREE! You must remember that you did not come to the farm to worry about the bed you sleep in, you have come to experience the job and 90% of the time you will not be in your accommodation.
How much does it cost to travel out to my first job?
We offer jobs nationwide. For that reason we cannot factor the cost of travel into the programme price. The jobs you are offered could be 50kms from the training farm- perhaps costing $70 in travel. On the other hand you may be offered an amazing opportunity that involves a 3hour journey to Brisbane airport followed by a 6hour flight to Perth, then 12hours on a bus with 4hours in a ute to take you to the station- perhaps costing closer to $600 with a few night’s accommodation along the way. In order for participants to not limit their job opportunities and miss out, we suggest to bring at least $900. If you are sensible, this will fund you for food/activities costs over the initial 4days before the training programme, work clothes/phone and accessories, and the most important aspect- travel to get you to the placement.If you know you are the sort of person to spend more, then bring more!
VisitOz works with lots of properties in NSW and QLD because naturally being close to the border of these states, we have built up contacts through word of mouth. For this reason we say $200-$300 is a good average cost for travel.Participants must expect to transit during the weekend following the course so there must be funds for additional hostel nights too.
Do not make travel money your last priority and remember soon you will be earning Aussies dollars and you will recoup these funds very quickly!
What happens if I have special dietary requirements such as being a vegetarian/ gluten or lactose free? What if I have serious allergies?
Populated areas along the East Coast are very accommodating with dietary requirements, outback Australia often doesn’t get access to such luxuries. Many farms are self-sufficient and grow their own produce. Many vegetarians say they are comfortable eating side orders around the ‘meat’ but in some instances there may not be side orders. It may be steak for breakfast, sausages for lunch and beef joint for dinner. If you are a vegetarian you will need to be prepared to be flexible with job offers and expect that many cattle stations will just not be able to accommodate you. Remember if you work on a livestock farm you are working for the meat industry, as a vegetarian you may be less popular with employers.
With other dietary requirements and food allergies the story can be the same, and station cooks just won’t have the resources or time to make separate meals for you. Food is simple and traditional and often eaten when the work is done. Farmers are remote and so food is expensive and difficult to access. Waste is a huge concern and when it comes to being ‘picky’ about your food or leaving things on your plate, many won’t have the patience for it.
What if my English is not good enough?
We accept all participants on the basis that they must have a high level of English to participate in the programme and to gain paid employment to follow.
The primary reason for this is SAFETY. If you are told to move out of the way of a charging Bull and you don’t understand the instruction, the consequences could be fatal. You could also damage machinery, livestock and even injure others if you do not understand instructions. By taking part in the training programme we can check that you understand and are able to follow instructions without injuring yourself or others around you.
From experience we have found that those who have poor English do not get the most out of the course as they do not understand the teaching aspects and usually what the whole programme is about. We then struggle to deliver our product of a guaranteed job and find an employer who is willing to take on a participant where he/she will have to spend extra time and money explaining things.
These are real jobs, not English language courses. Although you will expect to improve your English by working in an English speaking environment, you are being paid to work and carry out tasks efficiently, sometimes working a lot on your own,and you have to be safe and competent to do so.
If, following the training programme, VisitOz feels your English is not strong enough for paid work then:
1. You will need to take English courses at your own expense and come to us a few months later when it has improved
2. You take a volunteer position where you can experience farm work but in low pressure environment in exchange for help with English
3. Given a list of possible contacts for Fruit picking work.
We want to be able to deliver our product as intended and for participants leave satisfied and employed!