A lot is made of the responsibilities and obligations of Working Holiday Visa holders in Australia. These are indeed to be taken seriously, and adhered to. However, there is another side to this coin, and that is this. Are the people and businesses who are offering you employment taking all of their responsibilities and obligations seriously? This is a serious question, particularly in light of certain cases which have only recently come to light.

Recent official enquiries have revealed that there are some unscrupulous employers who are taking advantage of Working Holiday/Work and Holiday visa holders. The most serious offence and breach of the law is below minimum payment. (Australia has minimum official rates of pay across all industries and work types. See details here. Correct at July 2016).

Some employers demand to keep the passport of the employee/visa holder, while some threaten the employee/visa holder with deportation by threatening to notify the Department of immigration and Border protection of real or imagined breach of visa conditions.

What to do before you start work

  1. Know your rights! Preferably before you arrive in Australia!
  2. Make sure your working conditions, hours and rates of pay are explained to you clearly. Check to see if you will be paid the minimum award wage for the industry you will be working in.
  3. Do not breach your visa conditions.

If your employer is breaking the law, complain to him or her. If nothing is done, complain to the authorities, the Fair Work Ombudsman. If you don’t know how to complain, ask a friend or colleague, or a policeman on the street. Or ask at any Police Station for assistance and advice. Remember, they are there to help you!


If you play by the rules, and your employer does too, then you will have a wonderful and unforgettable experience in this fantastic and unique country. Enjoy your Working Holiday!

The Working Holiday Visa (subclass 417)

This is a temporary visa for young people who want to holiday and work in Australia for up to a year. It is a temporary visa that encourages cultural exchange and closer ties between Australia and eligible countries.

First Working Holiday visa: You must be outside Australia when you apply for your first Working Holiday visa and when the visa is decided.

Second Working Holiday visa: If you apply in Australia, you must be in Australia when the visa is granted. If you apply outside Australia, you must be outside Australia when the visa is granted.

Working in Australia – six months with one employer: You can generally only work six months with one employer.

This visa allows you to:

  • stay in Australia for up to 12 months
  • work in Australia, generally for up to six months with each employer
  • study for up to four months
  • leave and re-enter Australia any number of times while the visa is valid.

Work and Holiday Visa (subclass 462).

The conditions for obtaining this visa are slightly different to the subclass 417 visa. You might be able to get this visa if you are at least 18 but not yet 31 years of age, don’t have a dependent child with you at any time during your stay in Australia, AND have a passport from one of 16 specified countries.

Full details about these visas from the Australian Government Department of Immigration and Border Protection here.

Leave a Reply