Table of Contents
Every year, Australia welcomes people from all around the world. While many people intend to stay temporarily for studies or jobs, some want to settle in Australia permanently. Once people secure a stable job and residence, they look forward to spending their lives in Australia as permanent citizens.
Assuming that you have grasped everything well, it is time to discuss the prospects that may or may not affect your life in Australia. We have explained in detail how a temporary visa can lead to a permanent one. These prospects include the laws related to marriage as well as crimes and their penalties.
Now, it may sound absurd to know about marriage laws, but you will be surprised to know how many people don’t know the legalities and requirements of marriage in a foreign country. It is essential for you, as an Australian citizen, to understand and follow these laws religiously. You cannot play the “I did not know this” card because the authorities expect you to know everything about Australia since you have chosen to live there. Similarly, your home country may be lenient towards a particular crime, but crimes are not dealt with any leniency in Australia.
1. Legal Requirements
The general rules of getting married in Australia are similar to the universal ones. If you need particular advice, you will have to contact the authorities or an authorized marriage celebrant.
Following are some basic rules of getting married in Australia[i]:
- You must not be already married. Polygamy is strictly not allowed in Australia.
- You must not marry a parent, brother, sister, grandparents, or child.
- You must be at least 18 years old. In the case of a minor, you will have to get special permission from the court.
- Understand the meaning and importance of marriage.
- Submit a form of intended marriage to an authorized celebrant at least one month before your wedding.
- Say specific words during the wedding ceremony and be wedded by an authorized marriage celebrant.
- You will have to prove to your marriage celebrant that your previous marriage (if any) has officially ended before proceeding with a new one.
- You will have to show proof of birth, passport, and other documents that your marriage celebrant may ask you.
You do not have to be a permanent citizen or Australian native to get married in Australia. You must be aware of getting citizenship via marriage. If you marry an Australian citizen, you can apply for permanent citizenship by getting the subclass 820 or subclass 801 visa[ii].
On the day of your wedding, you must get three marriage certificates signed by you and your spouse, your marriage celebrant, and two witnesses who must be over 18 years old. Once you have submitted these certificates, you are officially married. Within 14 days of your wedding, the marriage registrar will register your marriage as legal.
If a person is already married before settling in Australia and has also mentioned it in their applications, they cannot get married in Australia again. Of course, they can get their spouse in Australia and get their vows renewed in a ceremony[iii].
2. Spouse Maintenance
It is obvious that the newly wedded couple moves into a house of their choice after marriage. It can be one of their own, or they can arrange a new one. Like many other countries, Australian culture supports independent individuals even in marriage to share the burden among two people. It is common for both individuals to have a stable job to support their families.
Similarly, house chores and raising children are not labeled as a woman’s job only – these are shared tasks expected to be done by both individuals in a marriage.
3. Raising a Child
· Health Care
Public health services are free for Australian citizens. These include maternal and newborn health. Medicare is the Australian health system that runs with the public hospitals and is funded by taxes. It covers all or most of the health-related expenses for anyone that has Medicare insurance[iv].
Apart from public health services, you can also opt for private services run by private organizations but recognized by the government. Depending on the kind of health insurance you have, they can be expensive, but you will not have to wait for your turn to get checked for like public hospitals.
Early Childhood, Education, and Care (ECEC) services in Australia take care of Australian children’s needs. The government provides the following facilities for children from the age of 0 to 12:
- Long care
- Nannies and baby-sitters
- Pre-school facilities for three-year-olds and older children before they start full-time schooling[v].
The Australian government is responsible for paying Child Care Subsidy. If we talk about proper schools, there are three types of schools in Australia – government schools, catholic schools, and independent schools. The government institutions are managed entirely by the state and territory government, while the other two have no links with the government.
Education is mandatory for all children in Australia. The age range varies in different parts of the country. The government schools are free for all Australian citizens and residents, while the catholic and independent schools charge fees for attendance. Throughout the country, the curriculum remains the same for all kinds of schools. For private and independent schools, flexibility is shown so that religious education can also be added[vi].
Under The Family Law Act 1975, Australia has adopted a no-fault divorce system. A no-fault divorce is one for which you do not have to state the reason for your divorce. If both parties agree that their separation is inevitable, they may file a divorce application. The only condition for a no-fault divorce to take place is to show proof that the couple has been separated for the last 12 months, and there is no chance of them getting together again[vii].
For marriages with children under the age of 18, the court will finalize the divorce after making sure that proper arrangements have been made for them. Neither spouse can marry again before the divorce is finalized. If one chooses to marry, it will be considered bigamy, and the marriage will be void[viii].
As opposed to the common term “alimony,” Australians use the phrase “spouse maintenance” for providing for their present or former spouse. The court orders one of the spouses to financially support their former spouse if they are unable to provide support for themselves[ix].
After reviewing the application, the court checks the age, health condition, ability to work, the standard of living, and other factors before issuing the spouse maintenance order. If the person receiving spousal maintenance remarries the maintenance will be nullified. In case of a new de-facto relationship, the court will consider the financial condition of the new partner.
Criminal Laws and Their Penalties
To know the laws of a foreign land is one of the most important things. Laws considered “normal” in your home country might be an offense in another country. Therefore, you must know the common crimes in Australia and how the authorities deal with them.
Hooning refers to road crimes related to a motor vehicle, i.e., a car, motorcycle, van, etc. Australia is extremely strict about road laws and does not show mercy to people who take public roads for granted. Crimes under hooning include speeding, racing, rash driving, playing loud music from the car’s stereo, etc.[x]
You can report a vehicle committing a hooning crime by using the Hoon Hotline 13HOON. You will need to provide the following:
- The type of vehicle and what it looks like
- The plate number of the vehicle
- What hooning activity took place
- Time and place of the crime.
Penalties: The penalty for every hooning activity varies with the seriousness of the crime. For less serious activities, such as loud music or smoke coming out of the vehicle while driving, the penalty could be a fine of 20 penalty units, which is equal to $2,757. For more serious activities that put others’ lives in danger, like careless driving and speeding, the penalty can be 40 units ($5,514) or six months in jail. The authorities also hold the right to impound or confiscate the vehicle for any anti-state behavior.
As much as we all love colorful art on enormous canvases, graffiti does not come under any form of art. It is considered to be a kind of vandalism punishable by law. As a crime, it is considered damage of property done by spraying, painting, writing, etc., without the owner’s consent. The property might be someone’s walls, car, or any other public surface on which you are not authorized to add any material without permission.
Graffiti is seen as a crime because it gives the impression that other criminal activities are also common in that area. Criminal gangs like to mark their territory with graffiti of their names and drawings over walls. Such activities may spread fear among the general public.
Penalties: Graffiti comes under willful crime[xi], which can send the criminal to prison for five years. Apart from the actual crime, you can also be punished if you possess material intended for graffiti. The materials include aerosol spray, permanent markers, and similar products. The maximum penalty for possession of such material is 20 units ($2,757). Young vandals may also have to remove the graffiti as part of their punishments.
3· Shoplifting, Stealing and Fraud
Shoplifting is the act of stealing where a person takes something from a shop and does not pay its price. You will be surprised to know that other offenses come under shoplifting. They include eating at a restaurant without paying, removing, or altering the price tag on products to get a lower price, etc.[xii]
Not only are these activities unethical, but they are punishable by law.
Penalties: If the value of the stolen product or used services is less than $150, the penalty is a fine of six units, equal to $817.10. On the other hand, if the value is more than $150, the maximum penalty is five years in prison.
Theft crime penalties vary depending on the seriousness of the crime and value of the stolen item. For regular thefts, the maximum penalty can be five years in prison. On the other hand, the penalty may be up to 14 years in prison for theft crimes conducted using weapons and firearms.
Similarly, fraud is stealing a product or service by lying about something. It may include gaining benefits from someone or an organization, transferring property using cheap tactics, and similar incidents. The penalty for such crimes is up to 10 years in prison.
4· Drug Offences
The possession and use of drugs in Australia are some of the most serious offenses. A person caught with drugs will not be shown leniency. There are two types of drug-related laws in Australia. Schedule 1 drugs include amphetamines, cocaine, heroin, LSD, and ecstasy. Schedule 2 drugs are cannabis, morphine, and barbiturates[xiii].
Penalties: The penalties are different for both schedules of drugs and also the amount that one has in possession. For schedule 1 drugs, the maximum penalty is 25 years in prison, while for schedule 2 drugs, the maximum penalty is 20 years. Other factors like possession but not ownership, supply, transport, or selling drugs are also considered before giving the final verdict.
Furthermore, possession of a drug for personal use may be dealt with leniency compared to the possession of drugs intended for sale.
5· Sharing Images without Consent
This may be considered the most common type of crime worldwide, and it may also be a cyber-crime. The crime includes sharing (virtually or in hard copy) intimate photos of a person without their permission. Also known as revenge porn, sharing intimate images of a person is considered unethical and punishable by law. The image may have been taken with consent, but it does not mean that the person has given any authority to share it with anyone else. It is also a crime to threaten someone in this way, and the person sending such threats will be considered a criminal.
According to the law, a person under 16 cannot give consent. So even if under-16 kids permit to share their private photos, you will still be punished in the court of law it does not consider their consent. Intimate images include any photos that show genitals or breasts in the case of females, transgender, or intersex people[xiv]. Digitally altered images that negatively affect a person’s reputation also come under this category.
Penalties: The maximum penalty for such crimes is three years in prison. In the case of habitual people, rehabilitation and counseling are suggested, and the authorities see that the person gets the help they need. The person may also be asked to delete or discard all related materials or data.
[i] “Rules to get married in Australia.” Retrieved from https://www.ag.gov.au/families-and-marriage/marriage/get-married
[ii] “Partner visa (apply in Australia).” Retrieved from https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/visas/getting-a-visa/visa-listing/partner-onshore
[iii] “Marriage equality in Australia.” Retrieved from https://www.ag.gov.au/families-and-marriage/marriage/marriage-equality-australia
[iv] ”How does Australia’s Healthcare system work?” Retrieved from https://www.bupa.com.au/healthcare-guide/what-is-australias-healthcare-system
[v] “Australia’s Children.” Retrieved from https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/children-youth/australias-children/contents/education/child-learning-and-development
[vi] “Here Are Some Facts about Australian Schools.” Retrieved from https://www.nwivisas.com/nwi-blog/australia/here-are-some-facts-about-australian-schools/
[vii] “Divorce.” Retrieved from http://www.familycourt.gov.au/wps/wcm/connect/fcoaweb/family-law-matters/separation-and-divorce/divorce/divorce
[viii] “Australian family law.” Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australian_family_law
[ix] “Spouse Maintenance.” Retrieved from http://www.familycourt.gov.au/wps/wcm/connect/fcoaweb/family-law-matters/property-and-finance/maintenance/spousal-maintenance
[x] “Hooning.” Retrieved from https://www.qld.gov.au/law/crime-and-police/types-of-crime/hooning
[xi] “Graffiti.” Retrieved from https://www.qld.gov.au/law/crime-and-police/types-of-crime/graffiti
[xii] “Shoplifting, stealing, fraud, and burglary.” Retrieved from https://www.qld.gov.au/law/crime-and-police/types-of-crime/shoplifting-stealing-fraud-and-burglary
[xiii] “Drug offences.” Retrieved from https://www.qld.gov.au/law/crime-and-police/types-of-crime/drug-offences
[xiv] “Sharing intimate images without consent.” Retrieved from https://www.qld.gov.au/law/crime-and-police/types-of-crime/intimate-images