This article was originally created on the 21/2/2007
Beryl and Barney have sold their home and intend to travel for the next couple of years. They asked GoSeeAustralia to help with tips on managing their new life and their questions raise many issues.
GoSeeAustralia has answers. These include a comprehensive response from the Australian Electoral Commission.
How do we get our mail?
Do we have to come back to NSW to register the car and van?
One is due Feb the other June. Can I still retain my email address now I no longer have a home phone?
Are permanent travellers still on the electoral roll with no address?
Do they have to get a PO box?
Must there be a residential address on drivers licences?
So here are some answers to life on the road…
Internet, Mail Forwarding and Paying Bills
Good parks will provide time on the Internet for a fee. The go is to prepare all you want to send working off-line. Once you are ready, fire it into the Internet.
Most bill problems can be solved through Bpay. Businesses are not fussy where you are as long as the money comes in. So keep your rego up and the world is a beautiful thing.
Julie of Cussies Mail Forwarding told GoSeeAustralia that mail and advice on bills due can be managed easily. This can be through mail being sent to a forwarding address. This might be a street address, post office box or caravan park. If Cussies is authorised to act in writing bill payments can be made too.
“All we would need is written approval and advice on when a bill like motor registration comes due,” she said.
“Basically our Mail Forwarding service is tailored to suit specific requirements. I am available seven days a week from 9.00 to 7.00 except all public holidays.“
An email address comes from an Internet Service Provider and remains the same regardless of whether the connection is dial-up, cable broadband or wireless broadband. Pay for the ISP service and you have an email address. Change providers and it will change.
Unfortunately, wireless broadband coverage needs a lot more grunt in Australia. For example, the Telstra broadband footprint around Sydney struggles to hook up at Brooklyn in the Hawkesbury and GoSeeAustralia has battled for a hot link on editorial tours in rural SA, Victoria, NSW and Queensland. We were not always in the backblocks. Mt Gambier and Victor Harbor were among our frustrations.
When all else fails webmail can be used to keep in touch at an internet kiosk. More good caravan parks are providing internet connection as part of their services.
The Australian Electoral Commission told GoSeeAustralia permanent travellers fall into the same area under the Electoral Act as itinerants like fruit pickers and the homeless in electoral terms.
We asked for more detail from the Electoral Commission and here is what Phil Diak, Director Media Communications and Information Strategy Branch, told GoSeeAustralia
“A residential address is necessary for electoral enrolment. It is not possible to be on the roll without an address - we wouldn't know which electoral division (seat) to give you ballot papers for at election time for voting purposes.”
1. No permanent address cases**
However, people who live in Australia but have no permanent residential address can apply for enrolment. These persons would have no fixed address (for example, sold your home and on the road) and so must enrol in the Division in which they were last entitled to for enrolment purposes.
If they have not previously been entitled to enrolment, for example, they were under the age of 18 years or perhaps had returned from overseas and had let their enrolment lapse, they can enrol for the division in which their next of kin is enrolled, or, if there is no next of kin, the division in which they were born.
Electors not born in Australia can enrol in the division with which they have the closest connection. Here is a link to the form you will need complete to apply for enrolment with no fixed address.
2. Permanent address but temporarily living elsewhere
The no-fixed-address option is not available to people who do have a permanent home address but who are temporarily living or travelling elsewhere.
To illustrate, itinerant workers living away from home for periods of time, or persons travelling around Australia on extended holidays, but who have a permanent home to which they intend to return, do not qualify to enrol in the manner described for those of no fixed address.
People with a permanent address should remain enrolled for their home address while they are away, but are highly advised to notify their local Divisional Returning Officer of their length of absence to prevent their names being removed from the roll in error.
You can contact your local AEC divisional office on 13 23 26, or email the Australian Electoral Commission at firstname.lastname@example.org to pre-advise of the length of time you will be away from your permanent address. If your trip goes for longer than expected and what you have told the AEC, again, it is advisable to let the AEC know to ensure your enrolment is safeguarded
Depending on where you are on the day of the federal election will determine the type of vote you can cast. If you are in your own electoral area, you can cast an ordinary vote at any polling place.
If you are within your enrolled state or territory, you will be able to cast an absent vote at any other polling place. If you are in any other state or territory than the one for which you are enrolled ie interstate, then you can cast a vote at a pre-poll (early voting) centre, in any AEC divisional office on polling day, or by post. Postal vote applications will be available from post offices after the announcement of the election.
Advice about early voting centre locations are advertised in major newspapers during the election or can be advised at that time by calling our national call centre on 13 23 26.
For away-from-home voting arrangements for State/Territory elections contact your local state electoral authority, as it is they, and not the AEC, that conduct State and Territory elections.
4. Other considerations for travellers
Holding a private Post Office box is not relevant to the information about enrolment provided. For timely receipt of mail it may be that it is better to include a postal address of a relative who will be looking after your mail while you are travelling, and therefore to be able to respond more readily to any correspondence from the AEC and other authorities. Regarding requirements for a residential address on your driver's licence - it would be best to clarify this with the appropriate road traffic authority in your state. There is information and a separate form on the AEC website to maintain your enrolment should you choose to go away overseas for a lengthy overseas holiday, or to live abroad.
Finding adequate insurance cover is also a challenge for Australians who make their motorhome, caravan or Recreational Vehicle their permanent home.
GoSeeAustralia has found some insurance companies do not want to cover full-time travellers and those who will, often cannot provide complete coverage. GoSeeAustralia asked for comment from the insurance industry regarding concerns which relate to providing insurance coverage for the increasing number of caravanners and Recreational Vehicle owners who have no fixed address as many more Australians take to life on the road with no fixed abode. GoSeeAustralia found there are pitfalls. In a worse case scenario, full time travellers who accidentally injure someone or damage their property could be sued.
If they do not have personal liability indemnity and are held and found to be liable to an action from a third party, they may well be financially ruined for life. Unfortunately, many full-time travellers who sell or rent their home to travel Australia indefinitely may not be aware they are exposed.
GoSeeAustralia found that where a home is sold or rented out with the contents in storage the full-time traveller does not have any personal liability cover. There are some companies with an insurance product specifically tailored for those on the road with no fixed abode.
Stan Bishop has been involved in the insurance industry in Western Australia for over 35 years as an insurance broker, insurance assessor, insurance broker principal/owner and now as an insurance adviser and authorised representative of the leading and major specialist Australian caravan insurer.
Stan Bishop told GoSeeAustralia the majority of caravan policies available are simply standard policies issued by general insurers who also underwrite other domestic covers. Being standard in cover they do not take into account the various unforeseen costs which can arise when a caravan is damaged, particularly whilst on tour.
Geoff O'Sullivan of Caravanners Complete Insurance in Shepparton, Victoria, specialises in packages of insurance for caravanners and this includes a policy for motor vehicle, caravan, and trailers.
Geoff O’Sullivan told GoSeeAustralia - there are also specific issues regarding insurance coverage for those with No Fixed Address, which need consideration if you are on the road.
He said he found that often clients did not understand the full implications and potential exclusions in their insurance policies.
“I think the best thing for people who are on the road and still own their home is to extend household cover on an Australia wide basis,” he said.
“The full implications of Personal Liability for people who do not have a fixed address is something we find is often not understood by the full-time traveller.”
“If their home has been sold their personal liability cover which is linked to their household insurance is gone. They may not realise this,” he said.
“We have extensive experience with the insurance needs of people in caravans and this has led us to create a policy which meets their unique needs while they are on the road,” Geoff O’Sullivan said.
I think we are the only ones who offer Caravanners Complete Insurance, he told GoSeeAustralia.
He said while the policy might cost the full-time traveller more it included the potential theft of valuable items like laptops and addressed the needs of people on the road with no fixed abode.
“This extended to towing advice and assistance with situations which can develop through illness. An example would be the case of a wife with little or no towing experience being given personal assistance and advice if her husband became ill.”
“It might mean bringing out a family member to take over the towing role, I have been developing this scheme since 1996 and there are about 1200 caravanners in it already,” Geoff O'Sullivan said.
Bruce Illingworth, National Manager CIL Insurances Vero on the subject of No Fixed Address told GoSeeAustralia they offer insurance to anyone providing they have a postal address that renewals can be sent to.
This can be a PO Box or a relative. There are also Mail Forwarding agencies like we previously discussed.
There is also a big group of Internationals who keep touring Australia. GoSeeAustralia met Dieter and Elvira Wolff from Frankfurt in Germany as they completed their 11th trip to Australia in mid-2006.
They share their adventures while they are on the road in Australia.
Europeans love to travel Australia and many get hooked and come back time after time. For the younger travellers backpacking is high on the agenda with average stays in Australia for over nine weeks according to 2002 statistics.
Dieter and Elvira told GoSeeAustralia they put their truck into storage in Perth ready for their next return to Australia. They are reasonably typical of their generation of repeat visitors to Australia. Dieter has his own IT company and Elvira is a bookkeeper. They are now semi-retired and intend to enjoy all the sights, destinations and experiences Australia has to offer.
GoSeeAustralia was interested to hear Dieter explain all the problems they had had trying to insurer their truck.
However, they found the problems which go with having no fixed address in Australia, a truck you also sleep in, and after changing registration from NSW to WA that their existing insurer could no longer insure them.