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International Students working in Australia

October 12, 2017 by Storm Crow

International Students working in Australia

Taking the leap to move out of home can be hard, and studying in a foreign country can be even more unsettling – especially in the first few months when you are trying to organise your routine, get stuck into classes, and also look for work.

Supporting yourself in a different country, obviously isn’t always smooth-sailing. It can be quite a bumpy ride trying to find an employer willing to work with your uni schedule – coupled with the limitation of only being able to work 20 hours a week. It’s important to know your work place rights as international students; before you agree to an arrangement with an employer that leaves you stuck.

What you can expect

When looking for part-time work you can expect to work regular hours every week, and you’ll also receive benefits like sick and annual leave.

Casual roles are more common for students, as they allow you to work on a flexible hourly basis. This type of work is a little riskier: work isn’t guaranteed, there’s no sick or annual leave and you won’t be entitled to a notice period for termination. On the upside, the hourly rate is higher than for part-time work.

If you need more information on minimum rights and conditions for the work place, the National Employment Standards (NES) have the answers.

Where to find work

It’s as easy as hopping online to Australian job boards such as,, or to view positions available for casual, part-time and full-time roles. We’d recommend searching for roles in hospitality, retail or administration if you’re looking for something flexible to work around your classes.

Curtin’s online job board UniHub also lists a variety of jobs and Earn While You Learn can put you in a pool for positions on campus.

Make sure you’ve got your cover letter and resume sorted before you apply. Contact Curtin Careers, Employment & Leadership and submit your resume for review to ensure you have the best chance of securing a job.

Check your industry award against the employer agreement

All domestic and international students have the same rights in Australia – that applies to minimum pay, safe working conditions and protection under Commonwealth workplace laws. These can be found in your contract of employment, where it outlines your duties, pay rate, when you’ll be paid and if you’re entitled to any extra allowances or penalty rates.

Depending on the job, at October 2018, the general minimum wage is $18.29/hour and $22.86/hour for casual employees. We encourage all international students not to agree to being paid less than they are entitled to for the work that they complete. Work Experience is somewhat different.

Don’t put up with it

Standing up for your rights is sometimes difficult, especially when an employer is threatening your visa security. If you’re ever in a position where your employer is a) requesting you to work more hours than your visa stipulates b) you’re getting paid cash in hand and your tax isn’t being lodged with the ATO c) you’re not being paid the minimum wage; then we really recommend that you get in touch with the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) to seek some support.

If you’re not comfortable or confident doing this, Curtin Careers, Employment & Leadership is available in Building 101 Curtin Connect for in-person consultations to offer any advice you may need.

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