Settlement Services is an information and referral service from WA Migration Services, providing assistance to migrants to establish their life in Western Australia (WA). We have compiled useful and important information here, to assist with your successful settlement journey — just follow the links below.
We also offer a free walk-in service, if you would like to meet with us in person. This walk-in service is currently available only in our Perth office, but will be extended to regional areas of WA later in the year. Please contact our Settlement Services team for details.
Businesses in Western Australia operate under two different industrial relations systems that cover employee rates — the State system, and the national fair work system. Which of these two systems covers a particular employee depends on the type of business structure of the employer.
Each of these two systems has different employment rights and obligations, so it is important you know which system your workplace sits under.
|The WA State system||The national system|
The state system covers businesses and organisations (and their employees) that operate as:
The national system covers businesses and organisations (and their employees) that operate as:
If you are not sure which system covers your work, you can contact Wageline on 1300 655 266 and provide the name of the business or the ABN, and Wageline can assist with a business search over the phone.
Employee rights and conditions
The Australian Government's FairWork Ombudsman has videos available in a range of languages to assist you in understanding your rights and obligations in Australian workplaces.
The videos have information about basic workplace rights and entitlements to help you check you're getting the right pay and make sure you are following Australian workplace laws.
Work, health and safety laws protect all workers in Australia, even if you are on a temporary visa. You have a right to a safe and fair workplace.
SafeWork Australia has information available in different languages for people who are new to working in Australia, so that you can be aware of your rights to work in a safe and healthy environment.
The Australian Red Cross has developed a Work Right Hub on their website, with information to help you find support if you (or someone you know) feels that you may be being exploited at work in Australia.
It includes information about underpayment or not being paid; discrimination, bullying or harassment, and work safety.
Introduction to WA law
The legal system in WA is based on the British model. There are two sources of law – common law (case law) and statute law (legislation). Both evolve by interpretation in the courts which can consider, where necessary, precedents set in earlier decisions made by courts. Parliament uses its power to pass statutes which are called Acts of Parliament. Statutes create new laws or codify or change the common law.
In Australia, the court system is completely separate and independent from the executive government or parliament. The government or parliament cannot change or influence a judge’s decision. The government also cannot influence the composition of a jury nor do anything to influence a jury’s decision. There are many different courts with many different functions ranging from tribunals, to magistrate, supreme and federal courts. Each state and territory has its own independent system of courts. For more information, visit the Parliament of WA website(opens in a new tab) and the Department of Justice website(opens in a new tab).
Migrant support services
The Office of Multicultural Interests (OMI) coordinates programs to improve services for Western Australians from diverse cultural, linguistic and religious backgrounds.
A great way to find your way around a new environment is to join a community group from your country or with your ethnic background.
Visit the OMI website(opens in a new tab) for the contact details of a large number of ethnic community groups and organisations.
The OMI website also lists services available from other organisations that assist people who have recently migrated to WA.
Jobs and Skills Centres assist people from a culturally and linguistically diverse (CaLD) background with specialist services to access education, training and employment related services so that they can live independently in the community.
The Multicultural Services Centre of WA (MSC) provides this specialist service to people living anywhere in WA.
Foreign governments are represented in Australia through consulates.
Visit the Commonwealth Government's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) Consulates in WA page(opens in a new tab) to view the current list of accredited representatives in WA.
The Australian Red Cross Restoring Family Links Program(opens in a new tab) helps families who are separated by war, disaster and migration. This work includes finding missing loved ones, re-establishing contact, exchanging family news and clarifying the fate of the missing. To use the service, contact:
Australian Red Cross
110 Goderich St
East Perth WA 6004
Freecall Hotline: 1800 875 199 (9.00 am – 5.00 pm AEST)
T: +61 8 9225 8887 (from outside Australia)
Delivering a range of services to help migrants and refugees to build meaningful lives in WA, Multicultural Futures are located at 241–243 High Street, Fremantle WA 6160.
You can find out about the services on offer by visiting the Multicultural Futures website(opens in a new tab), or call the team on 08 9336 8282.
A playgroup is made up of a group of parents and their young children who meet together for interaction and play. Children normally attend from birth to kindergarten or school age.
Playgroups are run by members and meet in a variety of venues, with more than 500 playgroups across Perth and regional WA.
To find a playgroup, visit the Playgroup WA (Inc) website(opens in a new tab).
If you need general assistance from the police, fire brigade or ambulance, see the details below.
WA's excellent health system has benefited in recent years from massive investment in new hospitals and expanded health services. Services are provided by a mix of Commonwealth (national government), State Government, and private healthcare providers. Perth is home to the largest medical centre in the southern hemisphere — the Queen Elizabeth II Medical Centre, which is globally recognised for excellence in research, education and healthcare
Healthcare in Australia follows western traditions with a high level of technical and scientific skills used to prevent, examine and treat ill health. Emphasis is placed on preventing disease through regular medical and dental checks, and good health habits.
There are a range of services available to provide support and immediate response to people in crisis or in need of urgent medical care. These include:
- emergency medical care;
- emergency medical transport;
- 24-hour telephone counselling, advice and referral services;
- individual and family crisis assistance; and
- psychiatric or drug related emergencies.
WA ambulance services are provided by St John Ambulance WA. Calling an ambulance may incur a fee if you do not have private health insurance that includes ambulance cover.
If you require hospital treatment, you have the option of either a public or a private hospital. Major hospitals and the larger health centres will provide interpreters if required. To find hospitals or health services in your local area, visit the WA Department of Health's services search page.(opens in a new tab)
Medicare is a publicly-funded health insurance scheme run by Services Australia that provides free or subsidised healthcare for all Australian residents and certain categories of visitors to Australia.
To access Medicare, you will need to enrol and be issued with a Medicare card.
For more information, including eligibility details, how to enrol and how to claim, visit the Services Australia website(opens in a new tab) or call 13 20 11.
Reciprocal healthcare agreements
Reciprocal healthcare agreements do exist between Australia and 11 other countries, allowing temporary visa holders from those countries restricted access to Medicare.
In addition to Medicare, many Australians also have private health insurance which covers you as a private patient in a private or public hospital. It can also cover services that Medicare does not cover, such as dental services. For some visa types, it may be a requirement of your visa that you have private health insurance.
The Commonwealth Government provides an income tested rebate to help people meet the cost of private health insurance. For more information, use the Private health insurance rebate calculator on the Australian Taxation Office website(opens in a new tab).
The Commonwealth Government has introduced an incentive for people to choose private health insurance by providing a 30 per cent rebate on premiums.
For high income earners who do not have private health insurance, there is a Medicare levy of 1.5 per cent of taxable income.
To compare private health funds and find further information for visitors and temporary residents, visit the PrivateHealth.gov.au website(opens in a new tab).
For non-urgent and ongoing health issues, Australians visit their general practitioner (GP) doctor. Doctors may then refer you to more appropriate services and specialists if required.
Medicare covers visits to your doctor; however, you may be required to pay a gap if the practitioner charges more than Medicare provides.
If a doctor ‘bulk bills’, this means there is no gap or fee to pay if you have a valid Medicare card as Medicare will be charged directly. If your doctor charges you a fee then you can claim a portion of that fee back from Medicare. You can ask for a copy of a medical practice’s fee structure before you select a doctor.
WA is home to the largest proportion of people born overseas, making it the most culturally diverse state in the nation.
Health Direct provides free and easy to access quality health information and advice online and over the phone.
You can check your symptoms and find general information on the HealthDirect website(opens in a new tab) or call Health direct on 1800 022 222, for more information.
Pharmacies sell over the counter drugs as well as medications that require a prescription.
Prescriptions and over the counter medications are not free. You will need to bring your Medicare card with you when you are collecting prescriptions from a pharmacy.
For information about medicines, speak to a pharmacist or call the Medicines Line on 1300 633 424 (from within Australia).
The following websites have useful information for new migrants on required immunisations, healthy eating and physical activity.
Utilities and services
You will need to connect or reconnect basic utility services if you decide to rent or buy a house in WA.
Phone calls to and from WA
The following guide will help when making phone calls to or from Australia.
|Calling a landline||
|Calling a mobile||
|Making an international call||
To make a call to other states or territories within Australia, the following area codes apply.
- Australian Capital Territory: 02
- New South Wales: 02
- Northern Territory: 08
- Queensland: 07
- South Australia: 08
- Tasmania: 03
- Victoria: 03
- Western Australia: 08
WA offers an efficient and modern banking system catering to the needs of individual residents and visitors as well as for businesses, both large and small.
The following information will help you set up your banking needs when you arrive in WA.
Most people have an account with a bank, credit union or building society to receive pay or basic benefits, take out cash and pay bills. These are commonly known as savings or everyday accounts. When choosing an account, find an option that suits your everyday spending habits, including how you prefer to access your money. Also ensure you:
- compare fees and charges;
- consider using a debit card instead of a credit card; and
- keep your bank account details private.
There are four major banks in WA.
- Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ)(opens in a new tab)
- Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA)(opens in a new tab)
- National Australia Bank (NAB)(opens in a new tab)
- Westpac Banking Corporation (Westpac)(opens in a new tab).
For more information on banking and for financial guidance, visit the Australian Securities and Investments Commission website(opens in a new tab).
Some Australian banks are affiliated with overseas banks. Before you move to Australia, you should ask your home bank if they have an affiliated bank in Australia — this may help you avoid paying fees associated with opening a new account.
In order to open an Australian bank account and deposit your money in a bank or credit union, you will need to complete an application form and provide identification.
If you open a bank account within six weeks of arriving in Australia, you may need only your passport as identification. However, after the six-week period you will need additional documents.
Automatic teller machines (ATMs) are located throughout the metropolitan and regional areas and are usually available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for basic transactions such as withdrawing cash from your account. Most ATMs will accept cards from different banks, although some may charge a fee.
Most banks are connected to the Maestro or Cirrus networks, allowing international visitors to access funds. To find out if you can access your money through ATMs in Australia, check with your home bank.
Internet banking in Australia is generally very secure. Standard online banking functions include checking account balances and transaction history, transferring money between accounts, making loan repayments, and paying bills to third parties.
To use internet banking, you must register with your bank.
To apply for credit card you need to be at least 18 years old and have a good credit rating.
You can apply for a credit card through a bank/financial institution. Approval for a credit card is dependent on a credit assessment which takes into account your income, assets, debts and liabilities.
It is important that you understand the terms and conditions that apply to your credit card, and the fees that may apply for its use.
Driving in WA
Temporary residents are generally able to drive in WA on a valid overseas driver’s licence for the same class of vehicle. However, permanent residents must get their WA driver's licence within the first three months of arrival.
If you are driving on an overseas licence you must also carry a valid passport or proof of age card. An international driver’s permit is not sufficient by itself and must be carried with a valid overseas driver’s licence. You are not allowed to drive with an expired overseas licence.
Recognition of overseas licences
If your licence is from a recognised country you may not need to complete the theory and practical test to get your WA license. Follow these links for further information.
Australians drive on the left hand side of the road.
The maximum speed limit in cities and towns is generally around 50 or 60 km per hour (35 mph), but can be up to 70 or 80 km per hour (around 55 mph) on major roads or highways and up to 100 km per hour (62 mph) on freeways. On country roads and highways, speed limits are generally 100 or 110 km per hour (68 mph), unless signs indicate otherwise.
There is a 50 km per hour speed limit for built up and residential areas. School zones are signposted with 40 km hour speed limits during drop off and pick up times in the morning and afternoon each week day.
Strict drink driving laws apply, and seatbelts must be worn by drivers and passengers at all times.
The Drive Safe handbook produced by the Department of Transport is a guide to safe driving practices and WA road rules. Visit the Department of Transport website(opens in a new tab) for a copy.
If you are involved in or witness a traffic accident and there is danger, serious injuries or life threatening concerns, telephone 000.
If you are the driver of a vehicle involved in a traffic accident, you must stop immediately and give your name and address to police (unless you have a disability).
Visit the Western Australia Police website(opens in a new tab) to find out more about how to report a traffic crash.
If your vehicle breaks down, you can either call a tow truck service or register for roadside assistance membership. If you are not a roadside assistance member, you can join on the first callout at a slightly increased rate. Do an online search to find a provider that best meets your motoring needs.
You can buy a car from a licensed dealer, at an auction or through a private sale. A 10 per cent goods and services tax (GST) applies to cars sold by dealers, but does not apply to privately sold used cars.
Government stamp duty, registration and third party insurance apply to all vehicles. New vehicles attract dealer delivery charges.
For vehicle licensing, renewal, transfer, regulations and penalties, visit the Department of Transport website(opens in a new tab).
For information on importing overseas vehicles and how to license them in WA, visit the Department of Transport website(opens in a new tab).
WA operates a compulsory third party insurance scheme (TPI), which you pay for as part of your vehicle licensing. This ensures that every vehicle using public roads in WA is insured for third party personal injury.
The scheme also covers people injured by uninsured or unidentified vehicles. Visit the Department of Transport website(opens in a new tab) for more information.
You can also purchase various levels of cover from an insurance company so both you and your vehicle are covered in the event of an incident.
Public transport and airport
Perth has a modern, inexpensive public transport system incorporating trains, buses and ferries across a network of stations in the metropolitan area.
There is a free central area transit (CAT) service(opens in a new tab) which runs within the Perth central business district (CBD) and also in the Fremantle and Joondalup city centres.
For easy, hassle free travel on other Transperth services, you can apply for a reusable SmartRider card which will also save you money on fares. See the Transperth website(opens in a new tab) for more information.
Most towns offer a local bus service and many schools operate a bus service to pick up and take students home each day.
Coaches, buses and some trains travel regularly to and from regional areas. Visit the TransWA website(opens in a new tab) for more information.
There are numerous taxi services in WA. A simple internet search for "WA taxi services" will present you with details of providers.
Rideshare companies such as Uber, Lyft, Ola and Didi also operate in WA via the online app booking systems.
Perth’s international and domestic airport(opens in a new tab) is only 12 kilometres from Perth’s CBD.
Perth is approximately 17 flying hours from London, 15 hours from Frankfurt, 10 hours from Dubai and South Africa, seven hours from Hong Kong and approximately five hours from Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.
The Perth metropolitan area has a wide range of shopping facilities. Tipping is generally not expected in Australia and the recommended retail price is normally not negotiable — bargaining is not common practice.
As well as hundreds of local shopping centres, major shopping precincts are located in Perth, Fremantle, Subiaco and Joondalup.
Generally, trading hours in WA are as follows.
- Monday – Friday 8.00 am to 9.00 pm
- Saturday 8.00 am to 5.00 pm
- Sundays and public holidays 11.00 am to 5.00 pm
Pictured: Evening shopping in the Hay St Mall, in Perth's CBD.