COVID19 relief assistance for international students in Victoria

b2ap3_large_shutterstock_732372325-1024x683 COVID-19 support for international students | Victoria

Being home to thousands of international students and many prestigious educational institutions, Victoria has responded to the pandemic situation aptly by rolling out various support programs to Victorians and international students. These programs, announced on top of the other measures announced by the Australian government, aim at ensuring the low-income groups of the regions are well taken care of. Along with the government, a long list of humanitarian organizations has also come forward to provide food, clothing and even financial assistance to the people in need.
As of August 12, stage 3 stay at home restrictions apply in Victoria and the metropolitan Melbourne area is under stage 4 restrictions. The curve which seemed to have declined and attained a plateau from late April to mid-June has now started to rise steeply. The second week of August is looking hopeful with the number of cases falling continuously every day. 
Here are some of the crisis relief support available for international students who are struggling to get their basic needs fulfilled. 
$300 coronavirus test isolation payment 
The government of Victoria provides a $300 one-off payment to Victorian workers, including their parents and guardians who have to undergo self-isolation while they await their COVID-19 test results.
To be eligible for this payment, you must:

  • be at least 17 years of age
  • have been tested for coronavirus (COVID-19) or be the guardian or carer of someone who has been tested
  • live in Victoria
  • be likely to have worked during the self-isolation period and unable to work due to:
    • a requirement to self-isolate after the test
    • a requirement to stay in isolation to care for someone who is required to self-isolate
  • not receive income or salary during self-isolation
  • have exhausted sick and/or carers leave entitlements, including special pandemic leave, or have no entitlement to such leave
  • not be receiving Australian Government income support such as the Jobseeker payment, or be an employee subject to the JobKeeper payment

$1,500 Pandemic Leave Disaster payment
Announced by the Australian government as a replacement to the government of Victoria’s Worker Support Payment, this $1,500 payment is provided to workers who are under self-isolation or taking care of someone in isolation and so not earning any income. 
To apply for this payment, one must be

  • at least 17 years old 
  • live in Victoria
  • not earning any income in the self-isolation period    

This payment is not for everyone who is staying home due to the stage-4 restrictions. You can claim only if you have been instructed to isolate yourself because you have coronavirus or were in close contact with someone with coronavirus or taking care of a person of age 16 or less who is under quarantine for the same reasons mentioned above. 
$1,100 International Students Emergency Relief fund
International students who are facing financial hardship or have lost their job during this lockdown period can apply for this fund. International students who are studying in one of the tertiary institutions including universities, TAFE’s, English language schools, private educational and vocational training institutions are eligible for this fund. 
$2,000 Rent relief
International students in Victoria whose income has been affected by the pandemic situation are eligible to apply for this payment. 
To apply for this fund, you must have:

  • a revised rental agreement registered with the Consumer Affairs Victoria
  • less than $5,000 in your savings (excluding superannuation)
  • an income of $1,903 a week or less before taxes
  • been paying 30% of your income in rent

Find employment through ‘Working for Victoria’ program
This$500 million initiative helps Victorian jobseekers including international students with work rights to find themselves a new employer. Students can apply for jobs and training on the portal. Thousands of applicants have found jobs in agriculture, operations, caregiving, food preparation, corona response operations etc.
Free legal advice for international students 
International students can seek advice on legal matters related to their work rights, wages, and anything related to the laws of Victoria from employment lawyers of Victoria. Study Melbourne Student Centre helps students avail this opportunity. This service is open only from Monday to Wednesday of every week and students should book an appointment with a lawyer in advance over email. For further information on this service or to book an appointment, contact the student support centre on this email id. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 
Other organisations that provide support services
A lot of communities have come together to offer support to the people who are struggling to meet their basic needs. Here is a list of some of such organisations and the support they provide. 

Empower Australia Food relief on Sundays 10.30 am to 3 pm Southbank, Geelong, Lower Plenty, Pakenham, Ringwood.
Anglicare Victoria Food and financial assistance Various locations across Victoria
The Salvation Army Food, clothing and financial assistance Various locations across Victoria
Helping Hands Mission Food and material aid including bedding and other household items Various locations across Victoria
Vallabh Youth Organisations Food and grocery items Various locations across Victoria
Adventist Disaster Relief Agency Food and grocery items Various locations across Victoria
The Global Hindu Association for Reform and Sustainable Society Food Various locations across Victoria
Melbourne Bangladeshi Community Food Various locations across Victoria
Nepalese Association  Australia Food Various locations across Victoria
Church of All Nations Emergency relief, food and market program Carlton 
Anonymous X Sanitary essentials Port Melbourne
Hare Krishna Food for Life Vegetarian food Port Philip area
Food Without Borders Food and grocery items Thornbury
Uniting Wesley  Support for people facing the risk of homelessness. Food and financial aid for the residents of Maroondah and Maribyrnong Various locations across Victoria
Dandenong Ranges Emergency Relief Services  Food, clothing and financial assistance Dandenong Ranges
Laverton Community Services Food and grocery items Laverton
Australian Multicultural Community Services Food and financial assistance Maidstone
Resurgence Food and grocery items Melton

For more information on these support programs, refer to the following websites.
To ease the situation further for international students whose visa renewal is due or who are looking to apply for a new visa, the government of Australia has recently announced 5 major announcements. Students who are unable to complete their studies on time due to the pandemic can apply for a new visa at no additional cost. If you require any assistance with your visa, migration plans and course-related information, please feel free to contact us. You can set up a free consultation session with our counsellors and they would guide you through in the right direction. Stay safe, stay indoors. 

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