COVID-19 has been announced as a global pandemic. Countries around the world continue to report new confirmed cases and the death toll continues to rise each day.
Negative impacts of COVID-19 could last for decades in Australia.
Due to strict restrictions and measures imposed by the Andrews Labor Government, Victorians have been able to slow the spread of the virus and save lives.
The pandemic has affected each and every one of us in Australia and around the world. Some of us have been affected more than the others. International students in Australia have been one amongst other vulnerable groups who are worst affected.
Education is Australia’s third-biggest export industry, and international students are the backbone of this industry.
There were more than 565,000 international students in Australia when the coronavirus outbreak hit, many of whom have now lost their jobs.
Some of the struggling students are stranded with no financial safety net, have no family support in Australia and are unable to return to their home countries due to either lockdowns or the restrictions imposed.
As a former international student myself, I fully understand the challenges they face.
Since the start of the pandemic, I have been contacted by many international students seeking assistance. I have raised their concerns with the relevant authorities and have advocated for support measures for them.
Our state and federal governments have announced a range of initiatives to assist international students. Some measures include early access to superannuation, visa flexibility, launch of the Working for Victoria program and mental health support, just to name a few.
Many universities and not-for-profit organisations have also announced various support measures.
Despite this, there are some international students who are genuinely continuing to struggle.
I feel proud to be a part of a strong, visionary and empathetic government that has stood by its people in these difficult times.
So now is the time to show compassion and offer government initiatives to support the genuinely struggling international students, so that we all recover and rebound together—as we are all in this together.