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Melbourne, the capital city of Victoria, has been called the world's most liveable city. It is a genuinely international city with a vibrant arts scene, a multicultural population, cosmopolitan cafes, restaurants and pubs, world renowned sporting events and much more.

The city itself is located amongst parklands along the banks of the Yarra River, just a few kilometres from Port Phillip Bay. The Yarra River flows at the heart of the city and provides plenty of riverside parks and walks combined with fashionable waterside developments bustling with cafes, shops and restaurants.

As any person with an Australian visa has discovered, with the sea to the south and mountains to the north, this modern European-style city with tree-lined boulevards offers something for everyone.

It is characterised by a vibrant, multicultural community, outstanding arts, food and wine sectors, diverse sporting and leisure opportunities, a 'green' environment and a low crime rate.

Melbourne's cultural diversity is most clearly seen in its 3,000 restaurants and the extensive range of delicatessens and markets where food from all over the world is available.

Melbourne is also known for cultural excellence with its concert halls, galleries, architecture, gardens, museums, theatres, arts festivals and libraries.

Furthermore Melbourne is Australia's fashion capital providing world class shopping, with a large selection of designer boutiques, elegant arcades and huge department stores.

A variety of landscapes and an upbeat capital city combined with a pleasant climate, immigration to Australia via the state of Victoria offers a world of benefits.

State Business

The State of Victoria offers great job opportunities in Melbourne and the metropolitan suburbs and neighbouring regions. The Victorian economy alone is larger than that of Singapore and Ireland and constitutes 25% of the national economy.

The State continues to grow at a steady and stable rate, forecast at 3.5% for 2004-05, and projected to remain on this trend for the next five years.

Victoria's great industry strengths are in the agricultural, food, manufacturing, medical research, financial services, tourism and cultural industries.

Victoria's strong and diversified economy attracts investment and supports business growth in a wide range of industries.Melbourne has a substantial economy in its own right, comparable in size to many Asian economies.

Victoria's financial services sector has a tradition of business leadership and a focus on future growth. Having received a AAA rating from Standard & Poors and Moodys, Victoria's open and transparent financial systems support a clear legal and regulatory environment.

Victoria's workforce is highly skilled and productive with around 46% of all workers under 35 years of age. Of the 2.3 million strong workforce around 50% hold post secondary school qualifications.

University participation and graduation rates are the highest in Australia, reflecting Victoria's strengths in knowledge and information based industries. The state has the highest number of students studying engineering science, mathematics and IT.

State benefits and Incentives

Regional Development Victoria, through its Victorian Business Centre (VBC) network, operates offices throughout Victoria to assist small business and aid the development of industry sectors. The VBCs can provide:

  • Information on how to get a new venture started
  • Information on buying an existing business
  • Referrals to other government and business providers
  • Assistance to businesses wanting to access a range of financial subsidies through various business assistance programmes

Global Visas works in partnership with government departments and organisations such as the VBC and economic development agencies to attract and settle business migrants in Victoria.

State Sponsorship Programme

The Commonwealth Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) is the only agency that has authority to grant Australian Visas.

However each state of Australia can participate in this process through the state/territory sponsored visa categories. These categories provide the ability to attract and sponsor migrants who have skills that are of value and importance.

Migrants who are successful in obtaining state/territory sponsorship are then assessed by DIMIA against specific criteria. The Commonwealth entry criteria are lower for migrants who obtain state sponsorship. However, the awarding of state/territory sponsorship is no guarantee that a visa will be granted by DIMIA.

Regional visas (business and other)

Victoria state sponsorship is available on the following categories of provisional (temporary) and residence (permanent) business skills visas:

  • Skilled Independent Regional (SIR)
  • State/Territory Nominated Independent Scheme (STNI)
  • State Sponsored Business Investor
  • State Sponsored Business Owner
  • State Sponsored Senior Executive
  • State Sponsored Business Talent

Education

Victoria's education system is internationally renowned and draws students from throughout the world to learn about business, medicine, science, agriculture, the arts and more.

It is home to many of Australia's most prestigious universities, and its school system is recognised throughout Australia for its leadership in teaching and learning.

In Victoria, children are required to attend school from the age of six to 15, with most children beginning school at age five or six and continuing through to the completion of the Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) at age seventeen or eighteen.

Some children also attend a preschool programme before starting school.

The school year is divided into four terms and begins in late January and ends in mid to late December for the summer holidays.

Public schools

Government schools in Victoria welcome enrolments for children who turn five years of age by April 30 of the year in which they start school.

In Victoria Government schools provide education to around 540,000 students at over 1,600 schools.

Funding is provided to government schools by The Department of Education & Training and this enables the purchasing of essential teaching materials and equipment.

There are some instances where schools may seek contributions from parents, for example to provide their children with textbooks, individual student requisites and school uniforms, as well as funding for school excursions, camps and so on.

Private/Non-Government Schools

In Victoria there is a substantial non-government school sector consisting of both a Catholic Education system and a number of Independent schools.

According to recent figures, Victorian independent schools educate around 12% of all Victorian students, equating to just over 109,000 primary and secondary students over 200 schools.

There is a large variation in fees between different schools which is largely related to the level of government funding they receive. In addition to the annual tuition fee there may be other costs associated with boarding fees (where applicable), computer levies, school camps and so on.

Tuition fees also vary according to the level of schooling, with fees for Year 1, being lower than those for Year 12. There may also be other charges, such as a building fund donation and fees for uniforms and books.

Parents should ask for a copy of the fee schedule at each of the schools they are interested in.

Kindergarten and preschools

Kindergartens or preschools accept children between the ages of three and five years old. Sessions usually run for two-three hours, two-three days per week.

Children in Victoria are not required to attend kindergarten, but it is considered helpful in developing children’s social skills.

Due to high demand, it can be difficult to enrol a child in kindergarten in some locations, hence it pays to register your child as soon as possible at two or more kindergartens.

Attendance at kindergarten is fee based and a deposit is usually required to secure a place.

Primary

In Victoria, children are required to attend primary school for seven years from preparatory to Year 6. Children must be five years of age by April 30 to begin primary school.

The aim of primary school is to provide a solid foundation of knowledge, skills, attitudes and values necessary for further learning. Religious education is also offered at most schools.

During the early years of learning the curriculum emphasises literacy and numeracy skills, plus there are opportunities for the development of physical, creative and analytical skills.

The Victorian government has put in place a comprehensive strategy for the middle years (Years 5–9) of schooling to ensure that students in government schools remain challenged and interested in learning.

For public primary schools in Victoria (except Catholic primary schools), children are required to attend the school that is in their neighbourhood zone, with neighbourhood schools having an obligation to accept any student who lives in their zone.

Secondary

Students are required to attend secondary school from Year 7 (12 years old) through to Year 10 (15 years old). Years 11 and 12 are optional, however in most cases students stay at secondary school to complete these two years.

There are a number of different types of secondary schools in Victoria, including government secondary schools (which are usually co-educational), private independent schools, Catholic schools, non-denominational schools and Islamic schools.

Neighbourhood zoning is not as common in secondary schools in Victoria as it is in primary schools.

The earlier years of secondary school consist of a general programme that is followed by all students. During the senior years of secondary school, core subjects are retained but students are also able to select from a range of additional options to assist them in their future career paths.

In Years 11 and 12, students study for the Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) - a combination of external exams and school-based assessments. After completing the VCE, students can move on to universities and colleges.

The VCE is very competitive and entry marks for Victorian universities have been consistently high over recent years.

Another option available for students in Years 11 and 12 is the Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning (VCAL). VCAL is a recognised qualification that gives practical work-related experience, as well as literacy and numeracy skills and the opportunity to build personal skills that are important for life and work.

University

There are ten universities operating in Victoria, eight Victorian public universities, one private university, and two campuses of the Australian Catholic University, which operates in several states and territories.

Victorian universities offer the bachelor degree as a basic undergraduate course which takes three to four years to complete. After this students may go on to postgraduate and masters degrees or doctorates.

Victorian universities are internationally recognised for their high quality of education and Victoria has some of the highest university participation and graduation rates in the Asia Pacific region.

Victoria is also home to one of Australia’s most skilled and qualified workforce, with 24% possessing university qualifications. The majority of universities are concentrated in or around Melbourne.

Employment

Key industries

Victoria’s key industry strengths lie in the agricultural, food, manufacturing, medical research, financial services, tourism and cultural sectors.

The state is also one of Australia’s leaders in the new knowledge-based industries such as information and communication technology, biotechnology, professional services, design, advanced manufacturing and environmental management.

Other growth areas include automotive design and manufacturing, food exports and education and research.

Almost half of Australia's financial services industry providers have headquarters in Melbourne, including Australia's largest bank, as well as many international merchant banks and financial services companies.

Looking for work

There are a number of resources available to jobseekers in Victoria:

  • The State's major daily newspaper, The Age, has a dedicated section advertising employment vacancies, with Wednesday and Saturday editions publishing the most extensive employment section. Other newspaper sources include The Australian and the Australian Financial Review.
  • Recruitment agencies are another key source for job leads and can be found in the Yellow Pages or the career section of local newspapers.
  • The internet is also a useful resource and there are many sites that list job vacancies in Victoria.
  • Many large companies have their own websites, which may outline career opportunities or list job vacancies in their organisation.

Housing

Home ownership

Victoria offers a variety of housing options from the modern family home, townhouse or apartment to older Victorian or Edwardian style homes.

In terms of location, the city of Melbourne is broken up into the following main areas: the Melbourne Central Business District and surrounds, the Eastern Suburbs, the South Eastern Suburbs and the Western and Northern Suburbs. Each region offers varying lifestyles and benefits and it is often difficult to identify the suburb you want to live in straight away, hence it may better to consider renting for 12 months or so before buying a home.

According to the Real Estate Institute of Australia the average median property price in Melbourne as at December 2004 was approximately AUS$382,000, which is higher than the average in most other states throughout Australia but is still cheaper than Sydney, New South Wales.

As with most large cities, the further you go from the city centre, the lower the asking price of the property.

Irrespective of where you buy your future home, you should keep in mind that when purchasing a property in Victoria (as in most states of Australia) you will be required to pay a stamp duty to the government.

There are a variety of useful resources available when sourcing properties for sale or auction. The Age newspaper advertises apartments and houses for sale in its Wednesday and Saturday editions and suburban/regional newspapers also advertise properties for sale or auction.

In addition, The Age publishes Melbourne area auction results on Sundays and Mondays. Alternatively the internet is also a useful resource, with most real estate websites providing photos and descriptions of the properties available, their location and an indication of the price range.

Renting

The majority of rental accommodation in Melbourne is unfurnished, however occasionally furnished properties may be found within Melbourne's inner city region.

Unfurnished accommodation normally contains light fittings, floor coverings, drapes, heating, a hot water service, kitchen cupboards and benches, a stove or oven and on occasion a dishwasher. Tenants are usually required to supply their own white-ware, furniture and furnishings.

To secure a property, tenants must pay a security bond (refundable deposit) plus a deposit of several weeks rent which has to be paid in advance. In many instances two references are also required.

Properties for rent are advertised in the 'To Let' section of The Age newspaper and through local newspapers. Both landlords and real estate agents place advertisements, with the largest number of listings being placed in Wednesday and Saturday editions.

On average around half of available properties are usually rented out within two weeks of being advertised, with the better ones often being taken within days of coming onto the market.

Transport

Melbourne has an excellent privatised public transport system consisting of trains, trams and buses.

The city is divided into three transport zones, with Zone 1 comprising of the inner city and the suburbs surrounding the inner city, while Zones 2 and 3 cater to the outer suburbs of Melbourne.

Trams are the main form of transport throughout the Central Business District and run on most main streets. Melbourne's old fashioned trams represent a distinctive feature of the city, while trains are the main mode of transport throughout the greater Melbourne area.

One of the easiest ways to travel around Melbourne is using the Metcard which allows you to change from tram to train to bus, all on the one ticket. Metcard tickets can be purchased from railway stations, trams and buses, and retail outlets such as newsagents and chemists.

With around 4,200 taxis operating in Melbourne, Taxis are readily available and can be hailed on the street or booked by phone.

In addition Melbourne's generally flat terrain also makes cycling and walking a popular option for getting around.

Population

Victoria boasts a truly multicultural population made up of approximately 5 million people from over 160 different nationalities.

About 3.6 million people live in Victoria’s capital city, Melbourne.

Climate

Victoria’s climate is characterised by a range of varying climate zones, from the hot, dry Mallee region of the northwest to the alpine snowfields in the northeast of Victoria.

Victoria experiences warm to hot summers, mild autumns, cool to cold winters and cool springs. The climate varies across the state with the north experiencing much drier and warmer weather than the south.

The city of Melbourne has a mild climate with distinct seasons. Summer runs from December to February and has average maximum temperatures of 26 degrees Celsius. Typical summer days in Melbourne are warm and sunny with a freshening sea breeze in the afternoon.

The Autumn months of March to May are often considered the most pleasant season with temperatures falling to around 18 degree Celcius in Melbourne. Cloudy, showery weather increases towards the end of autumn.

Melbourne experiences some of Australia’s coldest weather in winter (June to August) with some nights producing frost. Snow doesn’t fall in the city itself, but occasionally the outlying hills receive a light snowfall. The average daily temperature is approximately 10 degrees Celcius, although it can fall below 4 degrees.

At the beginning of spring (September to November), cloudy overcast days with gusty winds can be experienced with an average of 5.8 hours of sunshine a day.

Time zone

Victoria operates on Eastern Standard Time (EST) and Melbourne is 10 hours in front of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) without daylight saving.

Throughout the summer months, Victoria adopts daylight saving time (also known as Australian Eastern Daylight Time - AEDT). During daylight savings time the local clock is moved forward one hour to gain an ’extra hour’ of daylight at the end of the working day.

Daylight saving begins at 2.00 am on the last Saturday of October and concludes on the last Saturday of March, when clocks are put back one hour (again at 2.00 am).

Geography

Hugging the lower tip of Australia’s east coast, Victoria is Australia's second-smallest state, covering 227,600 square kilometres - roughly the size of the British Isles.

The Great Dividing Range starts north east of Melbourne and heads east to the New South Wales border. This picturesque alpine country offers a wide variety of activities from bushwalking and fishing, to rock climbing and skiing.

The section in north-east Victoria comprises alpine forests known as the High Country while to the west and north of the Great Divide the land flattens out to the dry inland plains.

Another key geographic feature is Victoria’s 1,800 kilometres of coastline, ranging from sandy beaches and rugged cliffs to mangrove-fringed mudflats.

Geographically compact, everything is within easy reach in Victoria from the snowfields to the beaches, from the city to the rivers and valleys.

The state boasts world class scenery including the Grampians, the Victorian Alps and the famous Great Ocean Road which winds for over 400 kilometres through some of the most spectacular coastal scenery in Australia.

Cost of living

A worldwide cost of living survey by the Mercer Group of Companies in 2004 ranks Melbourne as being cheaper than Sydney but slightly more expensive than Adelaide, Perth or Brisbane, and in terms of a global view Melbourne remains considerably cheaper than European cities such as Dublin, Frankfurt and London.

Furthermore, in the Mercer Human Resources Consulting Worldwide Quality of Life 2004 Survey, Melbourne was recognised as one of Australia’s best cities in which to live, with accommodation costs being lower than those in Sydney and transport, food and entertainment costs being approximately average for Australian cities.

For information on the Victorian State Government please see: http://www.vic.gov.au/ and living in and Immigration to Victoria: http://www.liveinvictoria.vic.gov.au/

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