For most purposes, being a permanent resident in Australia is just as good as being a citizen. You can't vote for state or federal parliament (some states allow you to vote for local government), but you can do most other things: work, open bank accounts, travel freely, get welfare benefits, and so on.

One big difference, though, is that permanent residency isn't really permanent: under a variety of circumstances, the immigration minister has a discretion to cancel an immigrant's visa and have them deported.