2 Singaporeans chase Aussie dreams with new visa

Ms Deborah Yap, 29, an advertising account manager and Ms Amira Rahmat, 24, a tutor, are the first two Singaporeans to be granted the work and holiday visa in collaboration with Australia.
Ms Deborah Yap, 29, an advertising account manager and Ms Amira Rahmat, 24, a tutor, are the first two Singaporeans to be granted the work and holiday visa in collaboration with Australia.PHOTO: ZAOBAO

Work and Holiday visa scheme allows eligible locals to work and take courses in Australia

Tutor Amira Rahmat, 24, had always dreamed of working in the fields of nature and wildlife conservation, but the chance to do so did not come along - until now.

For the next year, she will work in wildlife and nature conservatories, including one 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. I will have easy access to activities I love, such as camping, diving and immersing myself in nature and wildlife."

Also off to Australia is advertising account manager Deborah Yap, 29. The diving enthusiast 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.

GOOD TAKE-UP

We knew that this visa programme was going to be popular, and the response just confirms it.

AUSTRALIAN MINISTER FOR TRADE, TOURISM AND INVESTMENT STEVEN CIOBO, on the popularity of the new visa scheme.

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 to 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 candidates to be granted the visa under the scheme. The initiative was launched in June, and applications opened on Aug 1.

The 125 spaces offered in this first round were taken up within an hour of the launch.

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

Australian Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Steven Ciobo, speaking to the media in Singapore yesterday, said: "We knew that this visa programme was going to be popular, and the response just confirms it."

He said 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 the ages of 18 and 30, and who have completed at least two years of tertiary education or the equivalent.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 24, 2017, with the headline '2 S'poreans chase Aussie dreams with new visa'. Print Edition | Subscribe