International Student Welfare in Australia

Apr 25, 2020
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It has been a really tough time for all the international students after the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world. Many of them are even struggling to meet their living expenses as they were heavily dependent on their casual jobs. These jobs got wiped out suddenly as many industries got completely shut down. Not only this, lockdowns in all the countries around the world have caused some disruption in the amount of funds that students were receiving from their disruption. It is definitely an unprecedented situation which the world has never witnessed before. Moreover, some students wishing to return to their home countries might not do so due to international border restrictions. 

International Student Guide

Study NSW and the international education sector in Australia are working hard to support the international students in whatever manner they can. The tremendous support has primarily been on 3 fronts such as health, wellbeing and academic success of students. It is also indispensable for the international students present all across Australia to have complete information on all the support services offered to them. There are various sources of contact for them including their Universities, local and national non-government organizations. Students can also contact their respective embassies or at least keep on following them on their website and social media pages. This will definitely assist the students to keep a track on the latest information available to support them in this crisis situation.  

Essential Information Regarding COVID-19

You can check the recent essential information for international student welfare regarding COVID-19 laid down by the Australian Government here. Rapid coronavirus testing has been one of the key priorities of the authorities in Australia. Moreover, as Australia continues to flatten its COVID-19 curve, some restrictions might gradually be eased off. The restrictions imposed on elective surgery will slowly ease from 28th April onwards. But, the strict rules on social distancing still apply which means that one needs to stay at home. It is only exempted in cases when you are out for exercise or receiving medical care with no more than 2 people standing together in the public.  

Stay at home

Key Contacts 

  1. The National Coronavirus Information Helpline 1800 020 080 is available 24/7 for information and advice on COVID-19.
  2. Translating and Interpreting Service when seeking medical advice is available by calling the Translating and Interpreting Service on 13 14 50.
  3. Home Affairs also has a Global Service Centre available on +61 131 881 available between 9 am and 5 pm AEDT Monday to Friday.
  4. Study Australia Partners
    • The Australian Government has provided a dedicated email and hotline for international students – international.students@dese.gov.au or call 1300 981 621 (8 am to 8 pm AEDST Monday to Friday – calls within Australia only).
    • Study in Australia and our partners are here to support the international student community . Visit the Study in Australia website for more information and assistance to understand different steps regarding international student welfare.

What Should Students Do if they have COVID-19 symptoms ?

You can always seek any medical help in case you are worried about your health. People with COVID-19 might be having these symptoms: shortness of breath, sore throat, fever and cough. If you require some health advice from a registered nurse, call Healthdirect on 1800 022 222. You can call on this number anytime. In case of an emergency situation, please dial 000.

COVID-19 Symptoms

Do Students Have Access to Health Cover ?

Since many students have also lost their casual jobs, health expenses can be a major factor for international students suffering from any symptoms. You don’t have access to Medicare as an international student. However, your Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) should cover things like some hospital treatment, appointments with the doctor, some medicines and ambulance cover. Major cities like Sydney are presently having bulk-billing OSHC doctors with no gap payment. 

Can I be evicted for not paying rent during the COVID-19 pandemic?

During the coronavirus pandemic, Australian states and territories will put a six-month moratorium on evictions for both residential and commercial tenants. Tenants and landlords are advised to agree on rent relief or temporary amendments to the lease.

Where can I get access to legal support?

In case of any queries regarding the rights in your area, feel free to contact Redfern Legal Centre.  Redfern Legal Centre offers a free, state-wide legal service for international students in NSW. Study NSW provides funds for this purpose. For more information, read here.

Redfern Legal Centre

Conclusion

Therefore, the international students need to understand that they are not alone in this fight. The universities, education counselors and the Australian Government are always available to ensure international student welfare. As the world continues to fight the battle against COVID-19, it’s time to stay positive about a new ray of hope that will shine bright on all of us very soon.

Life will come back to normal. There is going to be a day very soon when we all can meet each other without any restrictions on social gatherings. For that, we need to continue to slow the spread of this virus. Some countries like Australia and New Zealand have already been successful in flattening their curves. But, this is not the time to become complacent. We need to continue following social distancing and stay at home. No virus is going to affect you unless you go out and invite the virus to your house.