How can an Australian citizen (or two) set up a company in Australia while living overseas?
Is it possible to pay a professional (e.g. lawyer/accountant) to fulfill the requirements of having "at least one local director" and a local office address?
The other option would be asking an Australian-resident family member to be a director and use their address but I'd rather not burden them if there's a professional service for this.
Context: In case it helps, this is for a SaaS side-project. No employees just a simple solo operation or maybe a partership.
A director has significant legal obligations. They need not be shareholder (that's the owner) but under corporate law play a significant part in governance and are responsible for ensuring the company is solvent. I seriously do not recommend asking a casual mate or neighbour to be director. It is possible to ask a professional firm to be nominee and even provide the secretarial role of filing the appropriate paperwork. Ordinarily resident usually is interpreted as at least 180 days any 12 months in the jurisdiction.
Also keep in mind that there are disadvantages taxwise to have an australia entity as startup. If the point is to have a holding vehicle for intellectual property, there are cheaper mechanisms.
Why do you want to set up the company in Australia and not where you are living?
I dont know how its specifically in Australia, but you can set up a company using professionals abroad. They could register a company and set up a "virtual" office, which means you get a company address with a mailbox. This will all cost some money. Consider that you would need a phone number, which gets answered by someone and so on to be authentic.
I would recommend to take a professional instead of a resident, who is not a co-founder or employee.