Most newly arrived migrants have to wait 2 years after arriving in Australia before they can get most social security payments for unemployment, etc. Naturally, refugees and humanitarian entrants are exempt from the waiting period. It is therefore important to understand that you should have enough resources to keep yourself and your dependents until you obtain employment. Nevertheless, there are special benefits, which may be available during the waiting period if you are in hardship because of a substantial change in circumstances beyond your control.
Migrants with dependent children may qualify for the family tax benefits and/or child care benefits, which are payments that help with the costs of raising children. There is no waiting period for these family assistance payments subject to you holding a permanent residence visa. The amount you receive depends on your family size, total income, whether you pay for childcare and the type of childcare you use. These payments are a handy income supplement but are not designed to totally support the family.
Pensions for old age or disability are generally available to people who have been Australian residents for 10 years or more. Old age and disability pensions are “generous” by international standards and the old age pension is available from age 65 or slightly less in certain circumstances.
The children of permanent residents are immediately entitled to free education at the primary and secondary level through the government school system in Australia. The great majority of children attend government schools however, there are also fee paying private schools available normally conducted through one of the religious denominations. Whilst the vast majority of private schools are conducted either under the Catholic or Protestant system there are other schools for minority groups such as Muslims, Greek Orthodox, Jewish, etc. The government schools will only require parents to pay for books for the children but may also ask for a small donation at the start of each year of something like AU$200 but this payment is entirely discretionary and is simply designed to provide for a few minor items which are not covered by the government.
It is compulsory for children to attend primary and secondary school. This means children have to attend school from the ages of six to 16. However, most children begin school earlier, at five years of age, and most leave later at 18 or 19. The school year runs from February to December and has four terms. These are broken up by three holidays of two to three weeks and a six-week summer holiday. Schools days are Monday to Friday, starting at around 9:00 am and finishing at about 3:30 pm.
The Australian government helps with medical expenses through a scheme called “Medicare”. Medicare contributes towards the cost of most medical services and some services provided by optometrists. It also provides free accommodation and treatment in public hospitals if you enter as a Medicare patient. Medical covered through Medicare is available immediately upon entering Australia as a Permanent Resident and at the time you obtain your visa we will give you detailed instructions as to how to go about registering with Medicare upon your arrival.