2 Singaporeans plan to chase their dreams in Australia under new work-holiday visa scheme

Diving enthusiast Deborah Yap said she cannot wait to spend her time in a place where she can easily access dive spots and places like the Great Barrier Reef.
Diving enthusiast Deborah Yap said she cannot wait to spend her time in a place where she can easily access dive spots and places like the Great Barrier Reef.PHOTO: AFP/ARC CENTRE OF EXCELLENCE FOR CORAL REEF STUDIES AT JAMES COOK UNIVERSITY

SINGAPORE - Tutor Amira Rahmat, 24, always dreamt of working in the fields of nature and wildlife conservation, but the chance to do so never came along, until now.

For the next year, she will work at a wildlife conservatory in Tasmania while pursuing another interest close to her heart - learning about coffee and taking barista courses.

The avid nature lover plans to leave her job and go to Australia in October.

Ms Amira, a National University of Singapore Life Sciences graduate, is one of two Singaporeans to receive a Work and Holiday visa under a new scheme.

She said: "Australia is the perfect place for me. It will allow me to follow my passion and give me the opportunity, for the first time in my life, to work in my dream field and have easy access to activities I love, such as camping, diving and immersing myself in nature and wildlife."

The second person, advertising account manager Deborah Yap, 29, is a diving enthusiast. She said she cannot wait to spend her time in a place where she can easily access dive spots and places like the Great Barrier Reef.

She said: "It was really surprising to hear I was granted the visa. It is such a blessing."

Part of a bilateral agreement between Singapore and Australia, the visa will allow Singaporeans to spend up to 12 months in Australia, and allow Australians to do the same in Singapore.

And for the first time, it will allow Singaporeans to hold jobs in Australia for up six months each time under a single employer. Singaporeans can also take up short courses for up to four months at a time.

Ms Amira and Ms Yap are the first two successful candidates to be granted the visa under the scheme. The initiative was launched in June (2017), and applications opened on Aug 1. The 125 spaces offered in this first round were taken up 5 minutes after the launch.

There will be a total of 500 spots each for Singaporeans and Australians each year.

Australian Minister of Trade, Tourism and Investment Steven Ciobo, speaking to the media in Singapore on Wednesday (Aug 23), said: " We knew that this visa programme was going to be be popular, but the response just confirms it."

He added that Singapore and Australia are linked by investments, trade and defence, among other things. The visa scheme, he said, will help to build personal ties and allow Singaporeans and Australians to get some exposure to each other's cultures.

The application for the next batch of visas will open on Oct 2. The scheme is open only to Singaporeans between ages 18 and 30, and who have completed at least two years of tertiary education or the equivalent.