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We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the ACT, the Ngunnawal people and recognise any other people or families with connection to the lands of the ACT and region.

Living, studying and working in Canberra: Knowing your rights

Canberra is a city of progressiveness and inclusivity, making it a great place to not only thrive academically, but to also feel genuinely embraced by a community that celebrates differences and champions progress.

One of the most important aspects of this modern community is offering transparent and comprehensive channels of support, should you find yourself needing them. Services such as ombudsmen, student representative councils and WorkSafeACT will allow you to seek answers and know your rights, should the need arise.

Your rights home

Whether you choose to live in a share houses, student accommodation, residential colleges, private rentals or even a homestay, you will most likely have to sign a lease, which is a legally binding document that outlines how long you can stay at your new accommodation.

It also outlines important information, like the condition of your property and what you need to pay if you cause any damage, what happens if you lose your keys, and any fees you will be charged if your rent isn’t paid on time. Got a furry friend with you? Find out about keeping pets in your rental property here but note that student accommodation often doesn’t allow for pets aside from designated support animals.

You can find out about your rights as a renter here. If you have issues with fellow tenants or your landlord  and need to get advice or help, the Tenancy Advice Service at Legal Aid can offer advice over the phone for free, with a wealth of information online which can be translated into your language.

To read more about finding a place to live, and how to be a great tenant, click here.

Your rights as a student

As a student, your education provider or student representative council is a good first port of call if you have questions about your rights as a student or are seeking advice as to suspending your studies, changing courses or degrees or issues you may have with how your education is being provided.

However, should an issue arise with the institution itself and you feel the need to seek advice from a third party, the Commonwealth Ombudsman can investigate complaints about education providers in Australia. Their website offers a range of documents which you can read in your own language. They may be able to help if you have complaints about your course fees, incorrect advice, cancellation of your enrolment, or academic misconduct decisions.

Your rights at work

Alongside your study, you may also choose to get a job, and many students often work in part-time and casual roles. It’s not only a great way to earn some money, but also to meet new people and gain valuable work experience. Jobs in retail and hospitality are popular options with students, and they usually fit well around your studies, although you may also find part-time work relevant to your field of study.

In Australia, international students get paid the same and have the same workplace rights as all workers. This includes:

  • Guaranteed minimum pay,
  • Protection from unfair treatment, and
  • A safe working environment.

To find out more about your rights and responsibilities as an employee in Australia, a great place to start is the Fair Work Ombudsman, which includes an online language translation option. WorkSafe ACT is another resource for learning about what’s acceptable in your workplace and how to raise concerns if you have any.

Jobs in retail and hospitality are popular options with students.

Keep in mind your visa conditions before you apply for a job. Generally, international students are limited to 48 hours of work each fortnight during teaching periods, and unlimited hours during semester breaks. If your course includes work experience as part of its curriculum, these hours won’t count towards the 48-hour cap. For those pursuing a Masters by research or a PhD, there are no limits on work hours. If you’re unsure, check with your institution, or the Department of Home Affairs.

There are a number of ways you can find and apply for jobs. Click here to read more.

Your legal rights

It’s a fact of life that sometimes things go wrong unexpectedly, and when they do, it’s important to know where you can get help.

Your institution or student union will often provide access to free and confidential legal support. However, if you require independent advice, Youth Law Australia provides free, confidential legal information and help for young people under 25 and Canberra Community Law and Legal Aid ACT provide free legal advice to the community.


Canberra is a multicultural and inclusive city. It is against the law for someone to discriminate against you. However, in the unlikely event you experience discrimination, you can seek advice or lodge a complaint with the ACT Human Rights Commission.

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Cost of Living

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Living in Canberra

Our quality of life is among the best in the world. We are one of Australia’s most inclusive cities and we boast a jam-packed events calendar of arts, entertainment, night life and sport.

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Getting to know Canberra’s neighbourhoods

Canberra is a city of almost 500,000 with a unique personality and city scape. Here’s what you need to know about your new home.

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Interested in studying in Canberra?

Contact the Study Canberra team for information and advice