New Bipartisan Working Holiday Agreement between Australia and Slovenia

Every year thousands of young people throughout the world look to Australia to visit for a working holiday generally during their gap year. While Australia’s Working Holiday Visa initiative provides many opportunities for young people aged between 18 years and 30 years to holiday and work in Australia, it is only available to a select number of countries. Many other young people in countries that aren’t signatories to the Working Holiday Program are ineligible to come to Australia on a working holiday visa.

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A historical agreement was recently reached between the Australian and Slovenian government that now sees young people from Slovenia able to visit Australia and enjoy a working holiday. The agreement will see the Australian government allow 200 young people from Slovenia to enter Australia with a Working Holiday Visa each year. The agreement is reciprocal and will also allow 200 Australian young people travel to Slovenia on a working holiday visa.

The agreement that Australia has reached with the Slovenian government is the first such agreement it has reached with a former Yugoslav country and only the 12th agreement that Australia has reached with a country within Europe. To the say that the agreement is historic is an understatement with discussions and negotiations being undertaken over a protracted period of time.

The Charge d’Affaires to the Slovenian Embassy in Canberra, Ms. Jana Grilans identified that since the agreement was made, 20 Slovenians have now entered Australia on a Working Holiday Visa since January 2016. One Australian has also entered Slovenia since January 2016. Ms. Grilans identified stated that the Working Holiday Visa arrangement now in place between Australia and Slovenia provided significant benefits for young Australians to gain important insights into management, culture and workplace practices.

Ms Grilans stated, “They can spend up to six months with one employer to see how companies operate in Australia, It’s important that they do travel and respect what they have back home, while also bringing those positive influences back with them.”

For Slovenians to be eligible to be granted a Working Holiday Visa there are a number of requirements that they are required to meet to satisfy Australia’s Department of Immigration and Broder Protection. Those requirements include:

1. Slovenians looking to come to Australia on a working holiday need to be aged between 18 years and 31 years of age at the time that they apply for the Working Holiday Visa;

2. Slovenians looking to come to Australia on a working holiday are required to show that they have sufficient funds for a return airfare as well as sufficient money to support themselves while they are in Australia;

3. Slovenians looking to come to Australia on a working holiday are required to have completed at least 2 years of an undergraduate degree; and

4. Slovenians looking to come to Australia on a working holiday also need to prove that that they have “functional English” skills. This means that they must be able to speak and understand English above a basic level and at least have English speaking skills to a conversational level.

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In coming to this historic working holiday visa agreement, Ms Grilc identified that Canberra was a location that Slovenia was hoping to expand its interests as a result of the renewable energy commitments put in place by the Government of the Australian Capital Territory. The Slovenian capital city of Ljubljana has been announced as the Green Capital of Europe for 2016. Ljubljana was awarded this prestigious title for improving pedestrian and cycling infrastructure, preserving the existing greens spaces that the city enjoys and having a commitment to their “Zero Waste Strategy”.

Ms Grilic stated, “Canberra is quite modern with its renewable energy plan and I see a lot of opportunity for us to compare our strategies, we’re also interested in looking at agriculture approaches, which are of a very different nature. There’s a lot both our countries can learn.”

While many Australians would have little knowledge where Slovenia is located it borders Croatia, Austria, Hungary, Italy and a small portion of the Adriatic Sea. Slovenia also holds
its bee population in high regard, and is highly protective of its the native Carniolan variety and goes to great lengths to promote its honey industry worldwide.

In 2011, Slovenia established its embassy in Australia. Since the Slovenian embassy was established their ambassadorial staffs have helped to spread its Honey Breakfast initiative. The Honey Breakfast initiative is a campaign where the Slovenian embassy enlists the support of local bee keepers to attend Canberra schools on the third Friday of each November.

The idea of the initiative is for school children to experience a honey breakfast and is a method of promoting the Slovenian bee industry. Ms. Grilic said of this initiative, “Beekeepers have visited Garran Primary and Hughes Primary and promoted healthy lifestyles and the importance of bees to the ecosystem. We’ve had a lot of co-operation with local beekeepers.”

Young Slovenians looking to come to Australia on a working holiday through the Working Holiday Visa agreement need to make their visa application direct to the Australian Embassy situated in Vienna. At this time Slovenians are unable to apply online through the Department of Immigration and Border Protection for their Australian Working Holiday Visa. It is expected that this requirement will be relaxed in the coming years. Once the agreement is further ratified Slovenians will eventually join citizens of other countries in being able to apply for their Working Holiday Visa online directly.

The agreement reached on the Working Holiday Visa program between Australia and Slovenia shows the commitment that both countries have towards promoting cultural exchanges for their citizens. The agreement has many benefits for both countries including the ability for both countries to boost their workforce in industries that are experiencing labour shortages. It is also expected that the agreement will have immense trade benefits for both countries especially in the arena of import and export.

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A historical agreement was recently reached between the Australian and Slovenian government that now sees young people from Slovenia able to visit Australia and enjoy a working holiday. The agreement will see the Australian government allow 200 young people from Slovenia to enter Australia with a Working Holiday Visa each year. The agreement is reciprocal and will also allow 200 Australian young people travel to Slovenia on a working holiday visa.

The agreement that Australia has reached with the Slovenian government is the first such agreement it has reached with a former Yugoslav country and only the 12th agreement that Australia has reached with a country within Europe. To the say that the agreement is historic is an understatement with discussions and negotiations being undertaken over a protracted period of time.

The Charge d’Affaires to the Slovenian Embassy in Canberra, Ms. Jana Grilans identified that since the agreement was made, 20 Slovenians have now entered Australia on a Working Holiday Visa since January 2016. One Australian has also entered Slovenia since January 2016. Ms. Grilans identified stated that the Working Holiday Visa arrangement now in place between Australia and Slovenia provided significant benefits for young Australians to gain important insights into management, culture and workplace practices.

Ms Grilans stated, “They can spend up to six months with one employer to see how companies operate in Australia, It’s important that they do travel and respect what they have back home, while also bringing those positive influences back with them.”

For Slovenians to be eligible to be granted a Working Holiday Visa there are a number of requirements that they are required to meet to satisfy Australia’s Department of Immigration and Broder Protection. Those requirements include:

1. Slovenians looking to come to Australia on a working holiday need to be aged between 18 years and 31 years of age at the time that they apply for the Working Holiday Visa;

2. Slovenians looking to come to Australia on a working holiday are required to show that they have sufficient funds for a return airfare as well as sufficient money to support themselves while they are in Australia;

3. Slovenians looking to come to Australia on a working holiday are required to have completed at least 2 years of an undergraduate degree; and

4. Slovenians looking to come to Australia on a working holiday also need to prove that that they have “functional English” skills. This means that they must be able to speak and understand English above a basic level and at least have English speaking skills to a conversational level.

back2

In coming to this historic working holiday visa agreement, Ms Grilc identified that Canberra was a location that Slovenia was hoping to expand its interests as a result of the renewable energy commitments put in place by the Government of the Australian Capital Territory. The Slovenian capital city of Ljubljana has been announced as the Green Capital of Europe for 2016. Ljubljana was awarded this prestigious title for improving pedestrian and cycling infrastructure, preserving the existing greens spaces that the city enjoys and having a commitment to their “Zero Waste Strategy”.

Ms Grilic stated, “Canberra is quite modern with its renewable energy plan and I see a lot of opportunity for us to compare our strategies, we’re also interested in looking at agriculture approaches, which are of a very different nature. There’s a lot both our countries can learn.”

While many Australians would have little knowledge where Slovenia is located it borders Croatia, Austria, Hungary, Italy and a small portion of the Adriatic Sea. Slovenia also holds
its bee population in high regard, and is highly protective of its the native Carniolan variety and goes to great lengths to promote its honey industry worldwide.

In 2011, Slovenia established its embassy in Australia. Since the Slovenian embassy was established their ambassadorial staffs have helped to spread its Honey Breakfast initiative. The Honey Breakfast initiative is a campaign where the Slovenian embassy enlists the support of local bee keepers to attend Canberra schools on the third Friday of each November.

The idea of the initiative is for school children to experience a honey breakfast and is a method of promoting the Slovenian bee industry. Ms. Grilic said of this initiative, “Beekeepers have visited Garran Primary and Hughes Primary and promoted healthy lifestyles and the importance of bees to the ecosystem. We’ve had a lot of co-operation with local beekeepers.”

Young Slovenians looking to come to Australia on a working holiday through the Working Holiday Visa agreement need to make their visa application direct to the Australian Embassy situated in Vienna. At this time Slovenians are unable to apply online through the Department of Immigration and Border Protection for their Australian Working Holiday Visa. It is expected that this requirement will be relaxed in the coming years. Once the agreement is further ratified Slovenians will eventually join citizens of other countries in being able to apply for their Working Holiday Visa online directly.

The agreement reached on the Working Holiday Visa program between Australia and Slovenia shows the commitment that both countries have towards promoting cultural exchanges for their citizens. The agreement has many benefits for both countries including the ability for both countries to boost their workforce in industries that are experiencing labour shortages. It is also expected that the agreement will have immense trade benefits for both countries especially in the arena of import and export.

back3

It was somewhat surprising that both countries capped the amount of you people who could travel to each country at 200 per year. However, even the experiences that these 200 people
will gain and the important boost that these people will give to economies of both countries shows that the agreement is an important step forward for both governments.

While this is an individual agreement reached between both Australia and Slovenia, the same benefits, rights and requirements will be in place for young Slovenians who come to Australia on a working holiday as is experienced by young backpackers who come to Australia on a working holiday from other eligible countries. The requirement for Slovenians who are coming to Australia on a working holiday to also have 2 years of undergraduate studies will ensure that those who come can be expected to make a significant contribution to the Australian community.

While two years of undergraduate studies does not directly correlate with skilled labour, it can be assumed that the Slovenians that actually take advantage of the Working Holiday Visa program will have significant educational prowess. It could be considered with the education level expected of Slovenians when they come to Australia on a working holiday will have the educational capacity to be of a significant benefit to the businesses in Australia that employ them.

The Australian government has also shown the same enthusiasm for the for the Working Holiday Visa program as shown by the Slovenian government. Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Senator the Hon. Michaelia Cash, identified that that the agreement was a great development to encourage as it will encourage young people to add Australia or Slovenia as another destination option when going abroad to travel, work and study for short term period of up to two years.

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The Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Senator the Hon. Michaelia Cash said, “Australia’s working holiday maker programme is built on the principle that global experiences build global citizens – the chance to experience life overseas is an important opportunity to build new skills and develop an appreciation of another culture. We will be working closely with our Slovenian counterparts to establish a mutually agreed start date for this arrangement as soon as possible.”

Both governmental representatives are correct in their views of the benefits that the Working Holiday program will provide to young people from both Slovenia and Australia. Working Holiday Visa programs provide young people the opportunities for cultural experiences but they also provide young people with valuable vocational and social experiences that will help in both their personal and professional development.

The benefits that young people on working holidays receive on working holidays in both respective countries have on flowing benefits for their home countries when they eventually return home. The life and vocational lessons that young people on working holidays undertake are directly transferable to the output that these young people provide to their home communities and employers. This makes young people who have had the opportunity to undertake a working holiday highly valued members of both their community and the workplace that they are employed within.

As the Working Holiday Visa agreement between Australia and Slovenia is still within its infancy, the full benefits have not been realised. However, as more and more young people start taking advantage of the Working Holiday Visa program and start their working holidays in the respective countries the benefits are going to start becoming more evident. The number of young people who have taken advantage of the Working Holiday Visa agreement so far is quite limited, but as the program is subject to greater marketing efforts in Australia and Slovenia then the number of participants will continue to rise.

The Working Holiday Visa agreement reached between Australia and Slovenia can be described quite succinctly as a historic agreement with a multitude of benefits for both countries. While still in its infancy residents of both countries have started to take advantage of the Working Holiday Visa program can offer them. There are also immense benefits for both respective governments in regards to tourism, employment and regional development. The signing of the agreement has shown increased international co operation between Australia and Slovenia with ongoing benefits for each country in relation to imports, exports and diplomatic relations.

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