Here on the west side we have high numbers of international students and other visa holders, and they've been hit particularly hard by the COVID-19 crisis. They are an incredibly important part of our community but have unfortunately been left behind by governments' response to COVID-19.
I'll keep lobbying for more support, and in the meantime, here is a list of supports currently available:
Australian Government support
The Australian Government provides a factsheet summarising the support it provides to international students, available here.
In relation to financial assistance, the factsheet states:
- those experiencing financial hardship and who have studied and worked in Australia for at least 12 months can access up to $10,000 of their superannuation… for further information, see:
- Australian Taxation Office, Early access to your super
- extended working arrangements are in place for students employed by health, disability and aged care institutions… for further information, see:
- Department of Home Affairs, Temporary relaxation of working hours for student visa holders
- National Cabinet endorsed a six-month ban on evictions for all tenants experiencing financial hardship during the pandemic:
- further information is provided below regarding how the Queensland Government has implemented this and other tenancy-related measures.
The factsheet also states that the Australian Government has provided $200 million additional funding to 300 community organisations supporting impacted communities and students. For further information about emergency assistance and support, see:
- Department of Social Services, Coronavirus (COVID-19) information and support
In relation to temporary visa holders, the Australian Government released the following statement:
- D Coleman (Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs), Coronavirus and Temporary Visa Holders
For further information about income support and other payments to individuals provided by the Australian Government in response to COVID-19, see:
- Services Australia, Affected by coronavirus (COVID-19): If you need a payment
Queensland Government support and assistance
The Queensland Government has legislated to assist all residential tenants experiencing financial distress due to the impacts of COVID-19. For further information, see:
- Residential Tenancies Authority, COVID-19 (novel coronavirus): Information for the Queensland residential rental sector
- Queensland Government, Novel coronavirus (COVID-19): The Residential Rental Hub
- Queensland Government, Residential Tenancies Practice Guide
- Queensland Government, COVID-19: Change of circumstances & rent, factsheet
The Queensland Government has also established the Online Student Hub, to connect students over 18 years of age with professional support counsellors for assistance with mental health, visa, crisis accommodation and other needs.
In addition, the Queensland Government has announced it is offering isolation care-packs, pre-prepared meals and other living expense payments to students. In relation to financial assistance in particular, the Queensland Government states:
Financial support is available for international students experiencing hardship as a result of being adversely impacted by the economic effects of COVID-19. Student support officers will make decisions in relation to support requirements for each student. In order to obtain financial support, students may be required to present the below documentation:
- identification: driver's license, Medicare card or passport
- valid student ID or confirmation of enrolment
- a copy of their OSHC
- a copy of their current student visa
- a copy of their rental agreement
- proof of utility bills: internet, electricity, mobile phone etc.
- proof of employment
- evidence of being unemployed or a reduction of usual work hours due to COVID-19
- any other documents that evidence students requiring support.
The Brisbane Student Hub (located at 28 Dibley Street, Woolloongabba) provides international students with information, advice and referrals on healthcare, employment, budget management, accommodation and legal services. Appointments can be booked online. Alternatively, the hub:
- is open Monday to Friday 12pm to 5pm
- can be contacted by telephone (ph 3337 5400).
An International Student Hotline (1800QStudy) also operates to provide support to international students who are studying in Queensland:
- telephone 1800 778 839.
Assistance provided by universities
Universities may provide financial support and other assistance to international students. For example:
- the Queensland University of Technology (QUT):
- has directed additional funds towards the Emergency Student Fund to provide support of up to $1000 to any eligible student in immediate financial need
- has established an international student COVID-19 hardship fund, which is an emergency bursary that provides financial help of up to $1500 to international students experiencing unexpected financial hardship:
- applications close 15 May 2020
- eligibility criteria apply and applications require supporting documentation
- the University of Queensland (UQ):
- Griffith University:
- has established the Griffith COVID-19 Student Support Bursary for students suffering financial hardship affecting their ability to study online4
- provides other general information about assistance and support available to international students.
Further avenues of assistance for international students and other visa holders
For international students residing in the Brisbane City Council (BCC) local government area, BCC provides an overview of available assistance:
- Brisbane City Council, COVID-19 Information and Support for Students
Further avenues of assistance for international students and other visa holders include, for example:
- in relation to work generally for international students and temporary visa holders:
- Fair Work Ombudsman, Visa holders & migrants
- Department of Home Affairs, Frequently asked questions
- Queensland Government, COVID-19: Work in Queensland – information for seasonal workers, including temporary visa holders
- Queensland Government, Seasonal Workers Health Management Plan Direction —seasonal workers and temporary visa holders FAQs, factsheet
- Queensland Government, COVID-19 Backpacker flow chart for agribusiness or commercial fishing employees
- in relation to difficulties paying energy bills:
- Queensland Government, COVID-19: Having trouble paying your bill
- Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources, If you are having trouble paying your electricity and gas bills, factsheet
- various community organisations, for example:
Australian Red Cross – telephone 1800 Red Cross (1800 733 276). See also:
- Australian Red Cross, Emergency relief support for people on temporary visas
- Australian Red Cross, Key social services related to COVID-19: Amendments & eligibility related to migrants with temporary visa
- St Vincent de Paul Society – telephone 1800 Vinnies (1800 846 643) for assistance
- Salvation Army – telephone 13 SALVOS (13 72 58).
- Australian Red Cross – telephone 1800 Red Cross (1800 733 276). See also: