Mum's gone 2 Aus

Essential support, advice and information for your family relocation to Australia.

All covered

During our initial months in Australia, Mum felt an overwhelming pressure to get private health insurance. As this isn’t an insurance we needed when living in the UK, the task of getting the right insurance for the family was daunting and, at the time, this was just one of many tasks and new services we needed to subscribe to. We’re sure any family moving abroad will relate to this.

The reason private health insurance is important in Australia is that not all services are fully covered by Medicare (the Australian government’s healthcare system). One of the key services of Australian private health insurance is Ambulance travel – we were told by innumerable people when we first arrived down under that we had better get Ambulance cover immediately, because the cost of one trip to hospital could be thousands of dollars.

Having embarked on our research, in order to get the basics like Ambulance and dental cover sorted, Mum was then overwhelmed by extras and options regarding hospital cover and other services and therapies.

In the end, the decision for Mum was all too much, and as Mr Mum’s gone 2 Aus obtained a discount from a specific provider linked to his work, we took the easy (lazy) way out. For the past four years Family Mum’s gone 2 Aus have been paying for full, comprehensive health insurance, with dental and all the extras they can throw in, for the entire family.

At the time, it felt good to tick another task off our lists, and over the past four years we have used our health insurance for dental, chiropractic services and the like. Thankfully we haven’t needed any hospital or ambulance services. We have been happy with our health insurance, and felt comfort in having our healthcare needs looked after should the worst happen.

However, a few months ago, Mr Mum’s gone 2 Aus, prompted by a discussion with the friendly staff at Bupa, suggested we review our healthcare arrangements. Having paid little interest in the decision making four years ago, he now wanted to understand all our arrangements , fine print and all (does this scenario sound familiar?).

Upon examination, it seems our young family has been paying some unnecessary fees and insuring some redundant procedures. For starters, we were paying a premium for being expats not covered by Medicare. This, we learnt, was set-up when we applied for healthcare and before we had our Medicare numbers. We should have updated our healthcare provider once we had our Medicare details, but had not. This resulted in a nice rebate for four years’ worth of paying an unnecessary premium.

In addition to the refund for the added premium, Bupa suggested we review the items and extras we were insuring. For example, if we’ve decided our family is big enough already, we should cancel maternity cover and unless we’re anticipating at our age to need a knee or hip replacement, perhaps we should remove this cover from our insurance for a few years. The happy outcome of this review is that we reduced our health insurance premium by $100 per month.

The lesson learned during this exercise for Mum is firstly; if you’ve just arrived in Australia, analyse all the options and take advice from a provider like Bupa before finalising your cover. Secondly, once you have established your insurance, ensure you review the arrangement at regular intervals. Mum recommends a review every two years.

Thank you Bupa, for prompting Family Mum’s gone 2 Aus to review our arrangements.

This is a sponsored post brought to you by Nuffnang – of course, all the events, facts and figures are true.

Whether you have recently moved to Aus, or are now and an old timer like Mum, we’d love to hear your health insurance tips and experiences. Please leave a comment below. Thank you. 

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I pledge my loyalty…even during the cricket?!

It’s been a quiet few months on the blog, but Mum is still very much in Aus and still committed to helping families moving to Australia.

A very belated Happy New Year to all our readers, new and old, we hope 2014 brings you everything you wish for, especially if it’s a move to Aus!

We have recently returned from a great overseas trip, stopping over in Kuala Lumpur. We haven’t yet covered KL in our stopover destinations series and will soon be sharing our tips for family fun in Malaysia’s capital city.

Other big news, for family Mum’s gone 2 Aus, is that our youngest son starts school this week. Oh, how the years have flown! Thankfully Mum is much wiser to the Australian education system than we were three years ago when our eldest son joined Kindergarten in Sydney.

If you’re new to Australian schooling Mum has shared a wealth of information on the blog, and reading our invaluable ebooks will ease your transition to school down under;

Applying for Australian citizenship

Once we’ve got over our holiday blues and got our little man settled in school, the next big job for 2014 is applying for our Australian citizenship.

So far we’ve found all the details we need about applying for Australian citizenship on the Australian government’s citizenship website:

This great calculator allows you to enter your residence dates to confirm that you’re eligible to apply for citizenship. In our situation, we’ve been permanent residents for four years and have not been absent from Australia for more than one year in total, in the four year period, including no more than 90 days in the year before applying: Residents Requirements Calculator.

Now we know we’re eligible, we will be gathering all our supporting documents and swotting up for our citizenship test.

Preparing for Australian citizenship test

The Australian government’s citizenship website shares all the information you need for your citizenship test: Australian Citizenship Test Resource.

Available resources include a book to download and YouTube videos to watch.

Documents and application forms

There’s a handy document checklist to work out what needs to be included with your application (this may vary depending on your eligibility criteria).

Application forms can be printed from the Citizenship website, but it’s also possible to complete an online application.

We understand that once we’ve completed our application, online or via post, we’ll be invited to a citizenship interview. Following the interview we’ll be asked to sit the citizenship test and, assuming we pass and all other paperwork is in order, be invited to a citizenship ceremony.

Sounds easy, doesn’t it? We hope so. This page explains all the steps involved in applying for Australian citizenship: Australian Citizenship Application Process.

We’re hoping to lodge our application next month, so watch this space for news of our progress.

Have you recently applied for Australian citizenship? Was your application straightforward? How was the citizenship test and your ceremony? We’d love you to share your experiences and tips. Thank you.

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Drawn a blank?

Drawn a blank?

It was a beautiful Spring day in Sydney, I was planning a family birthday party that obviously I knew was in November. I was sat in the car waiting for school pick-up and suddenly an overwhelming feeling of panic spread over me as I felt very strongly like I had forgotten something.

The feeling was so strong I figured I must have forgotten something pretty important. Not the latest form for school, the gas bill or car registration renewal. This must be big…

I wracked my brain to think of all the big events I had to remember throughout the year – family and friends’ birthdays, new babies, significant anniversaries, health checks…

I worked out that I had in fact remembered all of the critical events so far this year. I was also reminded that I get this feeling quite frequently now that we live down under and I blame the hemisphere.

My seasonal cues are all wrong

Since moving to Australia, we’ve had to get used to Winter being in the middle of the year, Christmas falling during Summer months, and Guy Fawkes Day just not factoring on the annual special events calendar.

The reason I frequently feel that I’ve forgotten something, now that we live in Aus, is that my seasonal cues are all wrong.

In the UK, warmer weather meant the count-down to a best friend’s birthday, and a significant family anniversary. Darker nights meant it was nearly Christmas; and leaves falling from the trees was a sign that my own birthday was around the corner.

In Australia, it’s all back to front. Darker nights simply mean we’re heading into the mid-year slump – Christmas isn’t even on the horizon. The signal that my birthday is looming is warmer weather and blossoming trees.

I can be forgiven for getting confused.

When will the feeling subside?

We’re enjoying the rhythm of Aussie life – ten week terms, two week school holidays, Christmas at the beach, and Halloween by sunlight. We’ve also got a number of tools in place (apps and a hard-copy calendar) to make sure we don’t forget significant birthdays and other events. But we’ve been in Aus for nearly four years and the fairly regular feeling that I’m forgetting something hasn’t gone away. Will it ever? What’s your experience?

In the meantime, if you have forgotten a birthday or special event and want to send a card, Moonpig offer a great online greeting card service and if you are ordering for someone in the UK, the card will be sent from the UK  so you benefit from the time difference to get your card there sooner…it has saved Mum’s skin several times! Personalised Greeting Cards Online

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Rainy day in Manly

Rainy day in Manly

It’s been quite cloudy this week and today when we stepped out of the house we noticed it had rained overnight (woah, stop the presses).

Tweenie Pom immediately said the air smelt different: “It smells like home, like Wimbledon,” he said happily. Little Pom agreed wholeheartedly. I sucked in a lungful of damp air and I too was reminded of home.

Now, for those who have read earlier blogs and may be wondering whether we have found a long-term rental, indeed we have, in Queenscliff, which is at the north end of Manly beach (more to come on the move later).

So, to get to school we have to travel the length of the beach, the boys on skateboards, with me jogging along behind. It really has to be one of the most incredible school runs in the world.

The boys who are proficient in ripstiking (like a skateboard but you wiggle to propel forwards, rather than using one foot to move) have now taken to skateboarding, like the rest of the Manly population. It really is a form of transport here. Tweenie Pom took to it without fuss, but Little Pom has had a few shaky moments, including somersaults, cuts, bruises and after one nasty fall, a possible broken wrist (which really spurred me on to sorting out their Medicare cover). I am pleased to announce he is getting the hang of it and he can now skateboard with his schoolbag on his back. At one point I was running with his bag on my back and pulling him along behind me. Things have definitely improved.

As we reached the school it began to drizzle, in that very British way, and Little Pom wondered whether they would have ‘wet play’ today. As I headed off home, the rain got heavier, so I started to jog again and funnily enough I had the seafront all to myself, apart from the odd surfer running with board to or from the beach (surfers never walk, ever). With the rain battering down, grey skies all around and that old, but familiar sound of car tyres on wet roads, I thought of my old running pals from Wimbledon. We ran in rain, sleet and snow and on occasion in the sunshine and I wished they were here.

When I reached the front door, I was feeling good, there’s nothing like facing nature head on. Completely soaked I saw myself in the mirror with hair plastered across my face and mascara running down my cheeks (not a good look, but I wasn’t expecting rain) and I smiled.

Then, I turned to put the kettle on for a well-deserved cuppa and noticed the washing on the line. B******s! Now, that’s not good. That’s too much like home.

Many thanks to Julie Cross, author of the blog Mrs Pom in Oz, for contributing this great story. Raining days always remind Mum of of the UK! Learn more about Julie and her blog below. If you would like to contribute your reader story please read more here: Requesting your Australian relocation stories.

Read more about Mrs Pom 

Julie Cross is the author of the blog Mrs Pom in Oz and the above post was originally published here.

Julie is a freelance journalist, mother-of-two and avid tea drinker who has decided to write a blog about her family’s move Down Under. Mrs Pom in Oz is Julie’s first blog, but she has had many articles published in British newspapers including the Daily Mail, The Times, Daily Express, The Telegraph, Mail on Sunday and The Mirror, as well as online media such as MailOnline, Totally Living and Wimbledon People.

Julie has also had plenty of experience on local newspapers, and was Health Editor for two daily regionals in the UK. When Julie lived in Ireland, she had a weekly column on an Irish Sunday newspaper, where she wrote about celebrity health. The last time Julie was in Australia she worked for Australian Associated Press, a national news agency, and she wrote several articles for Marie Claire magazine.

As well as news and health, Julie also write features on travel, food, celebrity and lifestyle. If you would like to commission Julie to write a story or feature, blog for your business, or manage your social media, then please contact her via email at: Julie’s Twitter account is @MrsPomInOz.

You can also visit the  Mrs Pom In Oz Facebook page and read some of Julie’s published articles, via her LinkedIn profile.

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Observant readers will note that I published this on Sunday, although it’s a “Photo Friday” post.  I’ve been meaning to share these photos all week and the neat Mum in me likes to stick with a theme, and share photos in my Photo Friday series. Apologies then for the slightly out of sync post, but it’s been a funny week in Sydney.

Bushfires around Sydney

This week, the bush fires throughout NSW, and surrounding Sydney, have dominated the news and our thoughts.

Smokey Sydney Thursday 17 October 2013

Smokey Sydney Thursday 17 October 2013

These photos were taken on Thursday in Maroubra, one of Sydney’s south-eastern suburbs. The smoke and wind picked up around 3pm. On Friday morning we woke to a strong burning smell.

Smoke over Maroubra beach

Smoke over Maroubra beach

It’s the first time Family Mum’s gone 2 Aus has experienced bush fires so close to Sydney and it’s an unnerving experience. We can’t imagine how scary and devastating it must be for those directly affected.

Getting dark at 4pm

Getting dark at 4pm

On Friday morning, with smoke hanging in the air, it seemed wrong to be carrying on as normal in the knowledge that so many lives were shattered. Sadly, the threat isn’t over as we’re due to experience more warm weather and strong winds this week.

For an up to date map of fires visit the NSW Rural Fire Service website.

Visit the Salvation Army’s website to donate to their Bushfire Appeal.

To all our readers, we hope you haven’t been affected by the bushfires; please stay safe.

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whale jumping

Not the whale Mum saw – I wasn’t close or quick enough!

When I was living at home with my parents, in Cambridgeshire in the UK, my mum had a catch phrase that came out several times each summer: “This is why we bought this house!” she would say as we sat on their sun drenched patio enjoying lunch or early evening drinks.

For my parents, the house in question had been their final jump up the property ladder, and it was a home they were naturally very proud of (they lived there for twenty years). We enjoyed the “This is why we bought this house!” tradition, and it will always remind me of happy times.

Recently, I’ve started my own “This is..” tradition, but in our case it’s “This is why we moved to Australia!”.

In the past few weeks I’ve had two distinct moments that simply made me feel happy to be alive, and happy to be living in Australia.

Dolphins at dawn

As Spring commenced in Sydney and the weather warmed up, our sons and their friends started a trend of hanging out at the skate park before school. If you’re looking for an incentive to get your kids dressed and out of the house in the morning, the promise of 30 minutes at the skate park before school drop-off works well.

The bit where we’re very spoilt is that our local skate park overlooks the beach, meaning parents have a great Ocean view whilst the kids practice their ollies and drop-ins.

On one particular morning, about 8am, the skate action was interrupted by around 50 dolphins playing in the bay. I’ve personally never seen so many dolphins swimming together, and it’s rare to see them so close to the beach. The surfers could probably touch them.

The kids tired of watching dolphins after a few minutes, but I could never get bored of the view – perhaps aware of all the attention they were getting, the dolphins hung out in the bay for a good twenty minutes.

The sun was shining, the kids were happy, we were on schedule to arrive at school on time – life was very good and I found myself thinking, “This is why we moved to Australia!”

Whales to watch out for

Mum has written about Whale Watching in Sydney before, and after a few years of regularly spotting whales off the beaches of Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs, I’d been having something of a dry spell when it came to sighting whales.

Last week I had an experience that topped all previous sightings, and it was on the way to work!

Standing at my usual Ocean-view bus stop at around 6am, I saw something splashing and waving at me in the water. The waving was the grey / white fin of a large whale. At first it was rolling around and around, which is why I got the impression it was waving.

Breaking from the rolling, the whale disappeared for a moment before letting out a huge water jet. It was then that I spotted a smaller jet of water next to the large one, and I realised that it was mother and baby playing in the bay.

Seconds later the mother and baby whale breached out of the water – then repeated the rolling, waving and breaching. What a wonderful sight, and an amazing way to start the day!

I had been a few minutes early to the bus stop that morning and was very thankful to have some extra time to enjoy the spectacle. Like other commuters, I was disappointed when the bus came; but a phrase had popped into my head – “This is why we moved to Australia!” Whale watching on the way to work isn’t exactly why we moved to Australia, we couldn’t have known we’d be that lucky, but it certainly sums up why we love being here.

What moments of your life down-under make you happy to be here? We’d love to hear your stories and experiences. Thank you.

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Front Cover

MUST read before moving to Aus

Drum roll please…it’s here!

If you are relocating to Australia with children, Mum’s new essential ebook is your MUST read before making the move.

If you’ve just arrived in Aus and are overwhelmed by the decisions and challenges ahead, read our ebook now and say goodbye to stress.

Mum’s Essential Ebook for parents is available today for only $AU12.

Our Essential Ebook includes revisions to our previously published ebooks “A Smooth Switch to Australian Schooling” and “Choosing Schools and Suburbs in Australia” – originally published in 2011 the content has been updated for 2013, and the combined ebook includes new sections, links and checklists.

Mum’s gone 2 Aus Essential Ebook gives you 107 pages of critical information and advice on the Australian education system, choosing schools and suburbs in Australia, managing your Australian family budget, Australian tax matters, finding work, and health and safety Aussie-style.

AUD 12.00 / Download

View the contents page here and use the BUY NOW button above to download your copy.

You may also be interested in our ebook aimed at children relocating to Australia: The ABC of Australian Schooling – a fun way to get your children excited about your big move.

With our two ebooks your family move to Australia will be much easier than you imagined.

If you’d like to share feedback on our ebook, have questions or suggestions regarding the content please use the comments below or contact Mum direct. Thank you.