The Australian government will provide international students in Australia with access to an emergency payment as part of its temporary scheme to support employees during lockdowns.
Eligible for the fund are Australian citizens, permanent residents, and eligible working visa holders including international students as well, Erudera.com reports.
According to the federal government, workers who reside or work in a Commonwealth declared hotspot, such as the Greater Melbourne Area, will be able to apply for the support.
An amount of $500 per week will be offered to recipients losing 20 hours or more of work, whereas $325 per week for those losing under 20 hours of work. In order to receive the support, recipients should not have liquid assets of over $10,000.
Australia’s international education community has applauded the decision to include international students in the scheme. The president of AAERI, Ravi Lochan Singh, told The PIE News that many workers have been affected by the lockdown in Victoria, adding that she welcomes the change in the Australian government’s stance.
“However, I welcome a change in stance of the Australian government whereby they have included a financial assistance for the affected temporary workers including those who may not have been full time,” Ravi Lochan Singh said.
Whereas, the National President of the Council of International Students Australia, Belle Lim, said that it is the first time that international students and temporary visa holders have been acknowledged by the federal government as eligible residents receiving the same support for facing equal challenges, in particular challenges triggered by the pandemic.
“This support is critical to help those in the community who are most in need and most vulnerable to an extended lockdown,” Lim said.
According to Lim, students have been uncertain whether they must remain in Australia despite receiving little support or to return home not sure how their educational experiences will continue.
“Many students had reported skipping meals, compromising living arrangements, worrying about course discontinuation due to inability to pay fees, or even facing homelessness,” Lim pointed out.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions imposed in Australia, a survey by the Council of International Student Australia (CISA) revealed that 93 percent of international students stuck overseas reported mental health issues. Most recently, international students stranded abroad have united under the hashtag #LetUsBackToAus on social media, calling on the Australian Education Minister, Alan Tudge, to let them enter the country and continue in-person learning.
A week ago, speaking at the Universities Australia Higher Education Conference, Minister Tugde said that the pandemic impact on universities has not been as bad as many expected.