Victoria has allocated A $ 45 million through which international students can qualify for aid payments of up to $ 1,100, donated jointly by Victoria universities. That ACT has committed A $ 450,000 to support people who are vulnerable to temporary visas and international students without income because of COVID-19.
That Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and Western Australia all have varying amounts of assistance available to international students – whether it’s a one-time payment, free mental health support or food and shelter assistance.
The steps by these countries contrast sharply with the federal government. International students, most of whom use temporary visas, have been ejected from the A $ 130 billion government stimulus package. And Prime Minister Scott Morrison said international students who cannot support themselves can return to their home countries.
Such comments can reduce Australia’s international education reputation. The way Australia supports international students studying here can now strengthen its global reputation as the country of choice for learning.
New report shows Australian competitors for international students – Britain, New Zealand, Canada and Ireland – have offered support to those who are struggling. This includes access to government welfare and visa flexibility.
Even before this pandemic, international students were faced with a number of unique difficulties. This is made worse by COVID-19.
Not only are they stranded in a foreign country that is unable or unsure to go home, many do not or few support from family or close friends in Australia.
It is therefore very important for Australian universities to act collectively, quickly and decisively to provide a model of care for the welfare of international students. And it is important for the Prime Minister to show that he understands their unique vulnerabilities.
How international students are vulnerable
There is a perception that the majority of Chinese international students come from wealthy households. But a studying 652 Chinese students revealed significant differences in demographics and background, as well as funding sources for their studies.
While the majority (67%) is funded by parents, 17% is funded through personal savings. The majority of self-funded students experience additional emotional and psychological challenges during their studies abroad.
Chinese students make up the majority (around 40%) of international students in Australia, but tens of thousands also come from other Asian countries including India, Nepal, Vietnam and Pakistan.
About half of international students, which is a private tenant, relies on work to pay rent. Like many people, they also lost their jobs in the COVID-19 pandemic – but they did not qualify for JobKeeper wage subsidies.
March 30th Scott Morrison announced The National Cabinet has agreed to impose a moratorium on expulsion for six months.
It helps but only one part of the rental problem for international students. Many international students who register in Australia to study cannot return to their homeland. Neither do they allowed to break their rent early without penalty.
Unfortunately, the spread of this corona virus also accelerated racist sentiment towards Asian Australians and international students from Asia. In February, a student who had returned from visiting family in Malaysia discovered he had driven out of his rental, as assumed by its owner, he has traveled to China for Chinese New Year.
Prolonged uncertainty because not knowing whether students can continue or complete their studies or continue to pay their rent can significantly affect their mental health.
A latest report found due to cultural, linguistic and academic constraints, international students have a higher risk of mental disorders than domestic students.
In 2019, the Victoria’s Coronary Prevention Unit found 27 international students died of suicide between 2009 and 2015 in the state. But a corpse officer said this was likely too low.
Following Victoria’s Coronary discovery, the state government appointed Orygen Youth Health to conduct the study formulate a model care that pays attention to mental health support and services for international students.
What can Australia do?
Australia can lead by developing a care model that is responsive to the needs of international students affected by COVID-19. This must be informed by policies and programs that prevent international students from feeling trapped that is worsening, or depressed by their circumstances.
The Australian Government must work closely with international students and universities to formulate practical support designed to reduce the drivers of mental stress. Support and assistance can be informed by our national mental health policy settings, and aim to ensure the widest range of proven interventions that promote well-being, and reduce mental stress and vulnerability
Financial support to reduce pressure must be paralleled with competent and easily accessible mental health support. How Australia, as a community, responds to and supports international students during a pandemic and as a result will be a decisive moment for Australian international education.
In view of strengthening Australia as a trusted and reputable international education destination for current and future international students, COVID-19 give us a chance to live the depth of our empathy, as an egalitarian and cosmopolitan society.
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