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Australian Working Conditions and Wages

Australian working conditions are often considered some of the best in the world. Contributing to these high standards is the fact that Australian industrial relations are characterized by high union membership numbers and a federally driven, but state controlled, mandatory arbitration and conciliation system.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the average weekly total earnings of workers living in Australia averaged A$1056.16.

Country towns and regional cities are predominately smaller and widely separated. Life in a country town is considered more relaxed and less expensive when compared to life in a big city. There is usually more housing available to people who choose to work and live in towns away from popular capital cities.

Average Wages by State

State / Region Average Weekly Earnings
Australian Capital Territory $1,310.42
New South Wales $1,054.71
Northern Territory $1,185.53
South Australia $933.78
Tasmania $905.93
Victoria $1,021.82
Western Australia $1,187.65
Queensland $1,052.82

(Source: ABS | Australian Economic Indicators February 2012)

Australian working conditions are regulated by federal legislation, workplace agreements, awards and contracts. The Australian Fair Pay and Conditions Standard protects the minimum wage, maximum work hours and minimum leave entitlements of all employees in Australia.

The average Australian working week is currently 36 hours from Monday to Friday however this does vary considerably across occupations and industries. A standard working day for a trade occupation is typically 7am to 3.30pm, while working hours in most offices are 9am to 5pm, with rest and meal breaks. Overtime rates of pay and flexi-time arrangements in the workplace are becoming more common and are often negotiated in an occupation's award.

A recent survey conducted by insurance agency AXA found that the average retirement age for Australians is 57 years. This is considered a relatively young age, given that the qualifying age to receive the Age Pension in is currently 60 years for women and 65 years for men.

Many Australian employers have readily employed immigrant workers, especially in times of labour shortages. Migrants with the best prospects for finding employment in the Australian labour market include those with strong proficiency in the English language, recognised post-secondary qualifications and high skill levels.