Jun 18, 2014

Main Objectives of Australian Working Holiday Visa

Views 2802 Comments 0

Australia’s working holiday program provides the opportunity for young people from overseas countries to enjoy an extended holiday in Australia and to undertake incidental work in order to supplement their holiday money. The reciprocal nature of the program offers similar opportunities for young Australians to undertake working holidays overseas. Temporary entry to Australia is available under three broad categories ¾ visitors, overseas students and temporary residents. Working holiday makers are part of the group of temporary residents. Australia’s working holiday program commenced on 1 January 1975, at the same time as the universal visa system was introduced.

From that date, all non-citizens (except New Zealand citizens) were required to obtain a visa in order to travel to, enter and remain in Australia. Previously, Commonwealth and Irish citizens of European descent were exempt from the visa requirement.


The principal objective of the working holiday program is to promote international understanding by enabling young people to experience the culture of another country. By allowing young people to remain in Australia for an extended period of time and to experience closer contact with the community through incidental work, the program provides the opportunity to gain a better appreciation of Australia, its people and their culture, and to promote mutual understanding between Australia and other countries. By emphasising that reciprocal opportunities should exist for young Australians to experience working holidays overseas, the program also seeks to ensure that the objectives of enhanced cultural appreciation and mutual understanding apply equivalently to young Australians.

While the primary focus of the program has been on promoting mutual understanding between Australia and other countries, over time the program has experienced some changes in emphasis. Certain additional objectives have been developed, particularly in response to economic considerations.

When it first commenced, a parallel aim of the program was to provide the opportunity for potential young migrants to experience the Australian lifestyle before making a decision to migrate permanently. According to DIMA, the working holiday program was used to ‘attract potential future migrants’. While the program still may offer that opportunity, the objectives enunciated by DIMA in its submission to the inquiry did not include attraction of future migrants as a current aim of the program.

The emphasis instead has shifted to the economic benefits which can accrue as a result of enhancing mutual understanding between Australia and other countries. In its submission, DIMA suggested that, alongside its cultural focus, the other objectives of the program are to:

  • enhance long term prospects for trade and cooperation between Australia and working holiday maker source countries; and
  • develop further Australia’s tourism industry.

DIMA told the Committee that an additional objective of the program is to supplement the work force, particularly in industries with peak seasonal needs, but without limiting opportunities for unemployed Australians. This objective gives increased prominence to the work related aspects of the program. This was a contentious issue during the inquiry and is discussed in detail in later chapters. Take free assessment to check your visa eligibility.