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COVID-19 Support for International Students

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:
  • extended working arrangements are in place for students employed by health, disability and aged care institutions… for further information, see:
  • 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:

In relation to temporary visa holders, the Australian Government released the following statement:

For further information about income support and other payments to individuals provided by the Australian Government in response to COVID-19, see:

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:

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:

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:
  • in relation to difficulties paying energy bills:
  • various community organisations, for example: