Your guide to expat life in Australia

Working in Australia

With a very low unemployment rate and a rising GDP, Australia’s economy is fairly stable. While the workplace tends to be relaxed and sometimes informal, respect and professionalism are still key to success in business.

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Doing business

A strong, competitive economy, low import tariffs and a transparent legal system make Australia a great place to do business.

Australia’s economy has benefited from its ties with China and Japan. Rich in natural resources, the country has been a major supplier to the emerging Asian superpowers. It’s also regarded as a good base for the regional headquarters of multinationals that want to penetrate the Asia-Pacific market.

Tradesmen such as plumbers, electricians, engineers and architects are often in demand from the mining and construction industries. The workforce is multilingual, multicultural and highly skilled – more than 50% of the population has some kind of tertiary qualification.

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Business culture

Even in a business setting, Australians are down to earth and dislike pretension. Although they’re friendly and open, they like to get to the point quickly and small talk is often unnecessary. If you want to fit in, try to be brief and don’t overpromise.

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Management style

The Australian approach to management is consultative, pragmatic and non-hierarchical. It’s important that managers don’t appear aloof or out of touch with members of their team. And colleagues often form close personal bonds.

Communication style

You may be taken aback by your Australian colleagues’ direct communication style. They’ll often tell you openly if they disagree or take issue with a suggestion, but this is to ensure clarity rather than to offend. First names are used, often from the initial meeting.

Tall poppy syndrome

Australians are modest to the point of being self-deprecating and will often downplay their success. Achievements in the workplace may not be acknowledged because of a tendency to ‘cut down’ anyone who stands out among their peers – this is known as ‘tall poppy syndrome’.

Fast facts

Business hours

Usually from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.


Australians may be casual outside the workplace, but business dress is much more conservative and formal. Men wear dark suits and women choose smart dresses or business suits. Lightweight fabrics are more comfortable in the summer – and men often leave their jackets off when the temperature climbs.


A handshake and a smile is the norm.


Gifts aren’t exchanged during business meetings, but you can take wine, chocolate or flowers if you’re invited to a colleague's home.

Gender equality

There’s very little gender bias in Australia and many senior positions are held by women.

Expat salaries

Australia has the world’s highest minimum wage, along with minimum salary requirements for expats. Simply being from another country puts you above a certain income bracket and you can expect to be paid well.

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All Expat Explorer survey data and all tips (in quotation marks) are provided by HSBC.

All other content is provided by, Globe Media Ltd and was last updated in October 2020. HSBC accepts no responsibility for the accuracy of this information.

This information does not constitute advice and no liability is accepted to recipients acting independently on its contents. The views expressed are subject to change.

Always remember to ensure you are aware of and comply with any laws in your host country or country of origin that apply to gift giving and bribery.

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