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Relocating/Moving to Australia: Moving with Children

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Moving with Children

Many people who move to Australia will have dependents with them. Moving with children is a complex matter and getting a visa for the kids is just as tricky as it is for adults. Then, once you have the visa, the really hard work of moving the children to a new country begins.

Children are defined by the immigration authorities as a person up to 18 years of age, or up to 25 years of age if they are a full-time student or a dependent.

The visa you need for your children is the same as your own - a 457, but it is a special type - a subclass 101 (if application is made from outside Australia) and a subclass 803 (if application is made while in Australia).

The Department of Immigration and Citizenship will scrutinise the application you make for your children in the same way they do yours. You’ll need to prove your children are in sound health and of good character. Also, they will only be granted a visa if you and your spouse meet the regulations concerning health and character.

The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) is the government body responsible for all forms of visa.
A really useful information pack is available download free from DIAC called ‘Child Immigration’ (Booklet 2).

Bringing Children to Australia

Australia is a wonderful country to raise children in. One of the great virtues of this country is our fantastic climate providing great opportunities for an outdoor lifestyle. Children love open space, the beach, the ocean and the sunshine.

Australia is also a great sporting nation. Because we place huge emphasis on sport - both in school and outside school - there are plenty of opportunities for your children to excel.

For parents, there is also the benefit of various government schemes to assist families financially if the need arises.

A government service called Centrelink (part of the Department of Human Services) is responsible for social, health and other payments and services.

Before You Leave Your Country of Origin

Children are at least as sensitive to change as adults. When it comes to such a life-altering event as moving to a different country, in some cases they need more information and assurance than their parents. Such a move involves uprooting children from their old schools and putting them into new schools, which they may find strange. They will have to say goodbye to the friends back home and try to make new friends in Australia.

From the start, one great thing on your side is that most Australians are very friendly people and welcoming to newcomers.

Handy tips for a smooth transition

  1. Involve your children in the plans for the move. Tell them all about it from the start. Explain why you are moving and what to expect from Australia. One of their biggest concerns will be leaving behind friends. Reassure them they can stay in touch with them via the internet. Point out that you too are leaving friends behind.
  2. Before you leave your old home, use the web to show your children images of the place they are moving to. Find articles about Australia and the city that will be your new home and read them together.
  3. Use Google Earth or Google Maps to see your new home.
  4. Show them the website for their new school.
  5. Talk through any concerns they have.
  6. Make sure they collect e-mail addresses and snail mail addresses of friends as well as Skype contact details.
  7. If they don’t have them already, organise Facebook accounts for the children.
  8. Throw a farewell party for the kids.
  9. If any of the children have birthdays that fall during the journey or soon after you are due to arrive, have an early party for them.
  10. Try to organise the departure date so that you arrive in Australia close to the start of a school holiday. In this way, the family will be together for a while before the new term begins. It also means the children do not have to enter a new school in the middle of a term which can be very disorientating.
  11. In Australia, the new school year starts at the end of January. If you can possibly coincide your move with this the kids will feel part of things from the start.
The whole thing is a big adventure. Show the children how excited you are by the prospect of the move, and how much you are looking forward to the next stage of the family’s life.

Leaving Your Old Home

Leaving is probably the hardest part of the move to another country. It’s a time of farewells, hard work packing, getting the family out of your old home and to the airport, worrying about pets if you have them, what to bring with you, what to put in storage, fretting about passports and money.

Here are a few tips to help you through this tricky time:

  • Make sure you get the children involved with packing.
  • If you are transporting all your furniture and effects, explain how you are taking personal items with you and the rest is transported by ship and will arrive a few weeks after you do.
  • Ensure the children take with them photographs of their friends and their old home.
  • If you are taking a family pet(s), make sure the children understand the transport and quarantine process and get them involved in preparing Fido or Fluffy for the trip.

Arriving and Getting Used to Australia

Once you arrive, you will have a million things to organise - homes, bank accounts, not to mention starting your new job(s). To add to the load, you will have to make sure your kids are coping and finding their feet in a new country.
  • If you can afford the time before commencing your new job(s), take time for fun with the children in their new home. Take them to the park, the beach, fun-fair rides, or tourist attractions.
  • Try to make time to be there when they first visit their new school and on their first day.
  • Encourage them to go to parties or school functions if they are invited.
  • Get them to hook-up and stay in touch with old friends through the internet.
  • Keep talking to them. Keep up the enthusiasm for your new home even if you are feeling jaded yourself.

Getting Help

There are many organisations available to help you and your family settle in including:
Visit our Life in Australia section for more articles related to the subject Relocating to Australia.
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