Support in the workplace
When you are studying in Australia, you may find a casual or part-time job to help support yourself or make new friends.
At the time of your employment, it is very important that you make yourself aware of your rights in the workplace, the correct wages for your area and age, and penalty and weekend rates. It is the law in Australia to treat employees fairly and equally, and to pay employees according to the wages set by the industry.
As an international student, despite your restricted working hours, you have the same rights to a fair and safe workplace as any other person. You should also receive the same level of pay as any other employee in this position.
If you do not feel that you are being treated fairly, you do have options:
- Discuss your concerns with your employer if you feel comfortable. Ask for copies of your pay slips, and ask to see the outline of their pay grades for employees, to ensure you are being paid correctly for your age and position.
- Enquire with your employer about penalty rates if you work weekends or public holidays. Also, enquire about uniform entitlements or any other additional. payments you should be receiving. Search online for industry relevant information on salary information, i.e. the Northern Territory hospitality industry pay standard.
- If you feel that you are being exploited or treated unfairly, you can contact Fair Work Australia or your local Ombudsman. Search for your local office, and speak to their team. Gather evidence, such as payslips and any evidence of communication with your employer, to discuss with your Ombudsman. You should not be afraid of speaking with the Ombudsman, as there is no issue with checking on your work rights.
Commonly, students may fear speaking to these agencies due to being on a student visa, or because they may be paid in cash or have worked overtime. It is important that you remain within your legal working hours, and work legally. If you are being exploited, however, you should always go to the Ombudsman to discuss your case.
The Fair Work Ombudsman released on 25 September 2017 their International Student Engagement Strategy, seeking to increase compliance in Australian workplaces employing international students.
Consequently, the Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James has penned an open letter to international students, urging them to be aware of their workplace rights and to seek free help from the FWO if they experience issues while working in Australia. For more information about the FWO’s current initiatives, tools and resources about Australia’s workplace laws, visit Fair Work Ombudsman – Open letter to international students.
Cyclone information (relevant for students in Northern Territory)
Safety should be your first priority. If at any point you think your safety is in danger, please dial 000 and ask for emergency assistance.
Darwin’s tropical wet season (1 November – 30 April) sometimes brings tropical cyclones. Also known as a hurricane, a cyclone is characterised by high winds, thunderstorms, rough seas and heavy rain, all of which can cause damage to property and people. Cyclones develop over large bodies of water (usually over the ocean) and can affect areas within about 50km of the coast. Commons effects of a cyclone are flooding, property damage due to high winds, fallen trees and power outages.
The new construction standards and building codes post-Cyclone Tracy, as well as annual public awareness campaigns, ensure Darwin is a safe place to live. Also, community cyclone shelters are available if required and brochures and pamphlets with step-by-step advice are readily available and actively promoted. The Australian Bureau of Meteorology provides cyclone information and weather updates and further information about preparing for a cyclone can be found via the Northern Territory Emergency Services. For more information visit CDU Emergency Advice.
You can get legal advice from a range of organisations and individuals in the Northern Territory (NT). Some are free and others charge a fee for their services. However, please note that most do not offer advice on immigration matters.
Northern Territory Legal Aid Commission provides legal help for people who can’t afford a private lawyer. The initial advice session is free; however, you will be assessed before you are granted ongoing legal advice, and you will need to pay a small fee.
Darwin Community Legal Service (DCLS) offers a range of free legal and advocacy services. Free legal advice sessions are held three times a week at different locations around Darwin. You can talk confidentially about your legal problem with a lawyer who can give you advice and suggest action.
Top End Women’s Legal Services (TEWLS) provides free and confidential legal advice, legal education and support to women in Darwin and surrounding areas. You can get legal advice in most areas of civil law, with the exception of immigration and commercial matters.
Redfern Legal Centre provides advice to international students about housing problems, fines, debts, car accidents, employment, discrimination, family law, domestic violence, and complaints about colleges or universities.
Women’s Legal Services NSW (WLS NSW) is a community legal centre providing women across NSW with a range of free legal services.
Overseas Students Ombudsman
The Overseas Students Ombudsman (OSO) investigates complaints about problems that overseas students have with private education and training institutions in Australia. The Ombudsman’s services are free, independent and impartial. You can find out more about this service on the Ombudsman websites for your state or territory:
Australia has a strong consumer protection framework to protect the rights of Australian consumers, including international students in Australia. When you are shopping or buying any kind of service in Australia, you have legal rights and protection. There are laws on fair-trading and consumer law guiding businesses and protecting consumers. For information about consumer laws and enforcement where you are living and studying, please visit the websites below.
Australia has a number of associations representing and assisting students from Australian educational institutions. National associations include: