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On 1st May 2015 it was announced by the Assistant minister for immigration and border protection that volunteer work will no longer count towards 2nd year visa working holiday extensions.

We can now confirm that the visa changes will be effective from the 31st August 2015. From this date, any unpaid regional work completed will not count towards your 2nd year visa extension.

What do I need to know?

  • From 31st August all specified regional work you do will need to be paid to count towards your 88 days of regional work. You will need to prove this with payslips from your employer when you apply for your 2nd year visa.
  • During your working holiday visa, you can still do volunteer/WWOOF work but you will not be able to count those days towards your application for a 2nd working holiday visa.
  • Any volunteer/WWOOF work completed before the 31st August will still count towards your 2nd year visa application.”For example, a participant applying for a second Working Holiday visa on 30 September 2015 will only need to provide pay slips covering any specified work performed between 31 August and 30 September. The participant can include specified work they have undertaken before 31 August 2015 in their application without needing to provide pay slips for this work.”

How does this affect people doing volunteer work now?

The department has acknowledged that some people will be in the middle of doing their WWOOF work and will be unable to provide payslips. In this case your WWOOF host can write you an explanatory letter which can be added to your application however the department will assess these on a case by case basis so it is in no way guaranteed that you will be able to use these days for your application!

The department of immigration and border protection issued this statement: 

“All Australian employers must provide their employees with pay, conditions and workplace entitlements in accordance with the Fair Work Act 2009 or relevant state legislation. This includes Willing Workers on Organic Farms (WWOOF) agricultural work.

From 31 August 2015, all applicants for a second Working Holiday visa must provide pay slips as evidence of appropriate remuneration with their application. This will help us ensure that work undertaken by Working Holiday visa holders is performed in accordance with workplace law. All Australian employers are legally required to provide their employees with pay slips.

Work performed before the commencement date will not require pay slip evidence.”

Moving forward..

Our advice if you’re currently doing volunteer work is to bear in mind that any work carried out from the 31st August won’t count towards your 2nd year visa so if you only have a certain amount of days left to complete your farm work, don’t leave it too late!

** UPDATE – May 2016**

“Note: These temporary transitional arrangements will conclude on 30 November 2015. All specified work performed from 1 December 2015 onwards will need to be paid work with pay slips provided as evidence, regardless of whether a participant commenced working for their employer before 31 August 2015.”

If you have any questions regarding your 2nd year visa, get in touch! If you wish to apply for a second working holiday visa and you’re looking for your farm work, take a look at our Guide to Farm Work in Australia. It has everything you need to know about the when, where and why!

For more information regarding 2nd year visas check out our website, Travellers at Work.

 

So you’ve booked on to our amazing 10 day tour of Thailand (the only introduction to Thailand there should be!) and you’re starting to think about what you might do next. You’ve heard people talking about Chiang Mai (according to Trip Advisor, it’s the 24th best destination in the world for 2013) and you want to know more about what you can do there … Ultimate Thailand to the rescue!

Founded in 1296, Chiang Mai is an ancient city in the north of Thailand. In stark contrast to the hustle and bustle of the wonderful Bangkok, Chiang Mai is home to around 200,000 people, compared to the 9 million people found in Bangkok. You’ll get an authentic Thai experience in Chiang Mai.

Chiang Mai is fast becoming famous for the markets they have available. The Night Bazaar has some great bargains on offer. If you want fake designer clothes and watches or a nice token t-shirt to take away for a keepsake, this is the place to go! Be prepared to haggle though, these bargains don’t come too easy!  For tips on haggling, check out our advice on how to bargain effectively, without causing offense.

Once you’ve explored the Night Bazaar, if you’re not too shopped out, head to Rajdumnern Road for their market, held on Sundays. While the Night Bazaar is great for cheap fake brands, the Sunday Bazaar has authentic hand-crafted goods, usually sold by their creators. If you make your way through the stalls, down to the Chiang Mai City Museum, you’ll find live traditional performances starting around 7pm. The streets are lined with food stalls offering many different options of food including dishes you would be familiar with and must try new culinary delights. The atmosphere alone is reason enough to visit, even if you are not there to shop. With an abundance of sounds, smells and sights to behold, this market will delight all your senses!

For a glimpse of authentic Northern Thai life, head to the Bull and Water Buffalo market on a Saturday morning in Sampatong. You probably won’t buy a buffalo but the experience is definitely worth sacrificing a lie in for!

There are adrenalin rushes a plenty on offer in Chiang Mai. You can experience the Flight of the Gibbon where you glide through the rainforest on the longest zip wire in Asia. If you wanted to extend this experience, you can choose a multi-day tour … choose from white water rafting, kayaking, rock climbing and much more.

If you can, it is recommended to hire a moped and drive to Doi Pui, the highest peak in the national park. From here you can access Mae Sa falls, Huay Kaew falls and Monthathan Falls, explore the forest, filled with some amazing wildlife and visit Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, one of the holiest Buddhists sites in Thailand. If you want to take a peek at a way of life that has hardly changed for hundreds of years, visit the small hilltribe villages that can be found in the vicinity of the park. You will not be disappointed!

Chiang Mai is a great spot to experience the delightful elephants but in a way that is safe and kind to them. We at Ultimate Thailand don’t condone some of the elephant experiences that are available but we can vouch for some of the sanctuaries that can be found around Chiang Mai. One of our favourites is the Elephant Nature Park where you can help feed and bathe an elephant for the day, help overnight or volunteer for a week and contribute to the care of these wonderful animals!

Other things to check out in Chiang Mai … the Thai Boxing comes highly recommended. Check out the Thapae Boxing Stadium found in the heart of the backpacker region. There’s an excellent rooftop reggae bar – check out their Facebook Page. If you get the opportunity to catch the lantern festival while you’re there, don’t miss out!

If you need any advice on where to go and how to make the most of your trip, Ultimate Thailand is here to help in any way we can! Contact our team … they’ve all travelled Thailand extensively and will happily pass on a few of their experiences to you to help make your trip unforgettable!