Many international students choose to work while living and studying in Australia. In Melbourne, there are many enriching jobs that build your skills, introduce you to new people, and support your studies along the way.

However, before you start looking for jobs in Melbourne, you must first understand your working rights and what to expect from the Australian workforce. With the help of this handy guide, you’ll learn the basics of your work rights as an international student, the types of roles available to you and where to look for jobs in Melbourne.

Working on a Student visa (subclass 500)

When you study in Australia as a Student visa (subclass 500) holder, you are permitted to work while studying. Typically, this visa allows you to work a maximum of 40 hours per fortnight. However, due to workforce shortages, the Australian government has temporarily relaxed this restriction, allowing international students to work an unlimited amount of hours. It’s expected that this restriction will return at some point, so make sure you stay up to date on your working rights via the Department of Home Affairs.

Tax File Number (TFN)

Another essential for working in Australia is a Tax File Number (TFN), which is a unique numeric identifier given to anyone who will pay tax in Australia. Upon arrival in Australia, you can apply for a TFN through the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). As an international student, you will be considered a resident for tax reasons if you live in Australia for longer than six months. This means you’ll need to pay the appropriate income tax and you’ll be eligible to submit a tax return.

What types of jobs are available for international students?

International students often work in retail, hospitality and customer service - all of which are thriving sectors in Melbourne. Jobs in these industries are usually offered on a casual or part-time basis, which means you can tailor your hours to your study schedule.

Working as a casual employee means your employment contract doesn’t specify how many hours you’ll work in any given week. You’ll typically have a changing roster and be assigned shifts. As a casual worker, you won’t be entitled to any annual or sick leave, but your hourly wage will be higher to make up for this.

Part-time employment means you have a set number of hours you work each week. While you will typically work the same shifts week-to-week, this can vary depending on the needs of your place of employment. Part-time workers are entitled to a certain amount of paid annual leave and sick leave.

Learn more about the types of employees in Australia.

How to find jobs in Melbourne

Many people look for work via employment marketplaces, where employers list job vacancies and prospective employees apply directly. The most widely used ones in Australia are SEEK, Indeed and Workforce Australia.

Seasonal and event work

Sometimes you can find jobs in retail, customer service, hospitality or events around peak periods, for example around Christmas time. Companies often recruit in advance for busy times so enquire early.

Becoming more employable

Before applying for any jobs in Melbourne, ensure that your resume is up to date. Study Melbourne offers a range of resources and events aimed at helping international students prepare for a job. From LinkedIn resume workshops to networking seminars, Study Melbourne provides countless services you can use to refine your skills and become more employable.

Additionally, you should also check with your education provider to see what employment resources it offers.

Your rights at work in Australia

As an international student, you have all the same work rights as Australian residents. This means you must be paid adequately and on time, you cannot be subjected to unsafe working conditions, and your employer must provide you with payslips for the hours you’ve worked.

If you’re ever unsure whether your employer is treating you legally and fairly, there are several support resources you can turn to. The Fair Work Ombudsman provides resources to help calculate your pay, understand your leave entitlements (if you have any) and analyse other employment conditions. You can also consult the Fair Work Commission, which helps resolve workplace issues, such as workplace bullying, unfair dismissals and discrimination.

Working in Australia is a great way to support yourself while studying, expand your skills and meet new people. By informing yourself of your rights, obligations and work opportunities in Melbourne, you’re sure to start your work experience on the right note.

International Student Employment and Accommodation Legal Service

Study Melbourne provides valuable resources to help you feel confident and prepared when starting work. In the event of a work-related problem, you can also get in touch with the International Student Employment and Accommodation Legal Service (ISEALS). To book an appointment, send an email to info@studymelbourne.vic.gov.au. Translation services are also available.

Payslips

If you are working, every time you are paid you should receive a pay slip which includes the following information:

  • the date of payment
  • the period you have worked. This may be a week, a fortnight or a month, depending on how often your employer does a pay run
  • the number of hours or days you have worked during that period
  • a ‘gross’ amount. This is the total amount you have earned for the pay period. The amount includes tax and superannuation.
  • a ‘net’ amount. This is the amount you receive after tax and superannuation are taken out.

Fair rates of pay

From 1 July 2009, most Australian workplaces are governed by a new system created by the Fair Work Act 2009.

The Fair Work Ombudsman helps employees, employers, contractors and the community to understand and comply with the new system. They provide education, information and advice, help to resolve workplace complaints, conduct investigations, and enforce relevant Commonwealth workplace laws.

The Fairwork Ombudsman provides a fact sheet for international students. The factsheet helps you understand your basic workplace rights, where to obtain further information, and how to ask the Fair Work Ombudsman for help.

Find out the minimum pay rate for your job by visiting the Australian Government’s Fair Work Online or call the Fair Work Ombudsman by calling 13 13 94.

Fair Work provide language assistance in up to 27 languages. To access, call 131 450 and tell the operator what language you’d like advice in.

Superannuation

If you are over 18 years-old and earn more than $450 per month, you are also entitled to receive superannuation (retirement savings). Your employer must pay this money into a superannuation fund for you, and when you leave Australia, you can access this money!

Read more about Superannuation

Working with an Australian Business Number (ABN)

It is not necessary to have an Australian Business Number (ABN) to work in Australia.

You only require an ABN if you are running your own business and are a genuine independent contractor. You may be an employee rather than a genuine independent contractor, even if you have agreed to work with an ABN, or have signed a contract which says you are an independent contractor.

Find out more about whether you should be using an ABN.

Working as a graduate

Once you have graduated in Victoria, there may be opportunities to continue living and working here. For example, the Temporary Graduate visa (subclass 485) is a temporary visa that allows international students to undertake full-time employment after finishing their studies. That way, you can start on your career pathway in Australia. There are four streams within the visa, so make sure to refer to the Department of Home Affairs to find out which is applicable to you.

When it comes to looking for jobs, keep an eye out for graduate and entry-level positions, as they are the perfect introduction into the Australian workforce. GradAustralia and GradConnection are great employment websites as they are exclusively for graduates.

If you are interested in post-study work in Australia, make sure you consult a Registered Migration Agent to discuss your migration options, and visit the Department of Home Affairs website to understand which visas may be available to you and their requirements.

Where to get help

Study Melbourne Student Centre

At the Study Melbourne Student Centre, in Melbourne’s CBD, international students in Victoria access a range of free support, information and welfare services.

Read more about the Study Melbourne Student Centre and the services provided there.

Jobs Victoria 

Jobs Victoria supports people looking for work and this includes services for international students.

We can also offer advice and support in person, online or on the phone, including:

  • Career guidance
  • Interview and CV tips
  • Skills and training advice
  • Local job support.

The Jobs Victoria online hub is a free job search service that’s available to students looking for work. You can apply for casual and part time jobs posted by employers in your local area.

Jobs Victoria Mentors can assist you if you’ve been looking for work for a while or if you’re facing challenges that make it harder to find a job. Mentors are available throughout Melbourne and regional Victoria. You can speak to a Mentor face-to-face, online or over the phone. Contact us to find out if you’re eligible.

Jobs Victoria Career Counsellors are available to everyone and can support you to identify your career goals, understand your skills and interests, prepare job applications and connect you with other support services. Register online for a session.

Jobs Victoria Advocates can connect you with the information and advice. You can speak to them in your local community spaces like libraries and shopping centres.

The Jobs Victoria hotline offers free advice and information over the phone. Call the hotline on 1300 208 575.

Department of Home Affairs website

Read about work conditions for student visa holders on the Department of Home Affairs website. The Department of Home Affairs website also has information about studying in Australia whether the terms of your visa allow you to work and what restrictions you need to be aware of.