Expat groups exist but are not as prevalent in Melbourne as in other major cities. Nonetheless, it is nice to have a few points of contact to cushion the often dramatic experience of isolation and culture shock that comes from arriving in a new country.
A national organisation with chapters in each major city, Newcomers Network offers social events and support groups for those who have recently arrived in Melbourne. The Second Thursday meeting (held on the second Thursday of every month) has been helping introduce expats to others for many years.
Repat and Expat Club
A group of over 250 members who have all relocated to Melbourne, either from overseas or other cities. A great way to mix with people from different cultures, as well as meet some open-minded Aussie friends. All members speak English, but could also be a good resource for learning other languages.
Newcomers and Friends Association
This organisation is run by volunteers in association with Open Doors (the international group that puts traveling women in touch with each other for support, friendship, advice and fun). Members are mostly middle aged women who have relocated recently to Melbourne (and their husbands or partners at some events). Regular meetings include coffee, a book club, excursions to attractions outside of the city, and games (bridge, mah-jong).
This is not a Melbourne-based group, but it is a great site for the spouses of expats. Expat spouses (usually wives) are often the most affected by expatriation. Although 68% of spouses of expats in Melbourne were working before the family moved, only 16% work during their time in Australia. This is due to a multitude of reasons, but the portability of professions is a major one. ExpatClic recognise this and are an invaluable source of advice, humour and support. They also have some great links, tips and resources on how to re-shape your skills to fit a portable niche that allows expat spouses to work in Melbourne.
Melbourne Business Network
http://www.melbournebusinessnetwork.org.au/ Organises regular business networking events in and around Melbourne, sometimes with a focus on a specific industry, but generally with no restrictions. All events involve a fee, but could be well worth the cost to make a connection with some of the ambitious business people who frequent these meetings.
Women’s Network Australia
http://www.womensnetwork.com.au/index.cfm A nationwide organisation that hosts regular networking events for professional women. All events have a fee, and usually include a guest speaker before the mingling.
The Hive, Entrepreneur Network
http://thehive.org.au/category/melbourne/ This group meets regularly to give entrepreneurs and small business owners a chance to meet and exchange ideas, strategies, and stories of success. Most meetings are free and feature a special guest who has met with success in the Melbourne business scene, such as Tony Wheeler (creator and owner of Lonely Planet).
http://www.d73.toastmasters.org.au/courses/ The Melbourne chapter of this international public speaking and business networking club comes highly recommended by expat executives. Known for being a little less formal than chapters in other cities, members are outgoing, gregarious, and often known to socialise outside of the club.