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'Finally, a ray of hope' for international students who have lost jobs due to coronavirus

Victoria to set up Study Melbourne hub in India to lure international students. Source: Abhas Parajuli

The Victorian Government has created a $500 million ‘Working for Victoria’ program to help get people who have lost work due to the COVID-19 outbreak to get back into the workforce.

Responding to the growing call for providing support for international students, the Government of Victoria has stepped up to create job opportunities for international students through its ‘Working for Victoria’ program.

All other temporary visa holders who are eligible to work in Australia will also be able to find work through this program, which has already placed nearly 1,700 people in the state in new roles.

The program is also offering free online training courses so job seekers who are registered with the program are ready for the call-up to work.


Highlights:

  • Victorian Government's program to create job opportunities for all temporary visa holders
  • International students will also be eligible to register for 'Working for Victoria'
  • More than 1,700 job seekers have found work through the program

“Any international students that are legally allowed to work in Australia are eligible to register for the Working for Victoria program, which is helping people who have lost work due to the pandemic,” a spokesperson for the government said in a statement to SBS Punjabi.

Victoria values the contribution international students make to our state and we are supporting them as we all face the challenges of the coronavirus outbreak

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews seen alongside students at University High in Melbourne, Wednesday, September 11, 2019.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews seen alongside students at University High in Melbourne.(Representational image).
AAP

What is Working for Victoria?

The $500 million Working for Victoria fund is part of the government’s $1.7 billion economic survival package that is providing a range of support to businesses in the state.

Under this initiative, the state government is inviting job seekers to register their details on the vic.gov.au/workingforvictoria to access opportunities.

While workers can apply their skills to the roles available for specific roles, the program also allows employers and organisations who have vacancies to register their details, which then enables them to screen workers who fit into the available roles.

The program is placing job seekers in roles like food preparation and delivery for the vulnerable, and also in jobs related to the quarantine program for returning international arrivals such as transport operations, security and cleaning.

Many have also found work at call centres, minor maintaining, landscaping and upgrading public space.

Free online courses in cleaning, food hygiene, first aid and other important skills are also available to people who have lost their jobs and are registered with the program.

Who is eligible to apply?

Anyone who has working rights in Australia can apply.

How to apply?

The Victorian Government has partnered with Sidekicker to match potential applicants with work aligned to their skills and experience.

Unemployment
Nearly 1700 job seekers have found work through 'Working for Victoria' program. (Image for representation only).
Getty Images

'Great development'

Welcoming the move, Ahmed Ademoglu, the National President of the Council of International Students Australia said, “Alas, there has been some good news for the international students.”

“It is a great development. And we are happy to see that at least Victoria acknowledges the contribution of international students in the Australian economy and its culture,” said Mr Ademoglu.

“We hope this step would encourage other states and territories to also step up and provide some form of support to international students as they are currently the most vulnerable temporary visa holders in the country,” he added.

Indian student
International students are eligible to register for the program.
Supplied

More than 560,000 international students are currently in Australia, many of whom are facing unemployment and barriers to returning home amid the global health crisis and the corresponding border restrictions.

So far, the federal government has only extended limited help to international students. It has allowed student visa holders already enrolled in nursing and aged care sectors and those working in supermarkets to work for more than 40 hours a fortnight to support the country's essential services and supplies during the pandemic.

The government has also allowed international students who have been in the country for longer than 12 months to access their superannuation funds if they are facing financial hardships. 

To the rest who can no longer support themselves in Australia, the government has told them: "it's time to go home".

0:00
PM Morrison tells visitors to go home if they can't support themselves during COVID-19 crisis.
PM Morrison tells visitors to go home if they can't support themselves during COVID-19 crisis.

The message was jarring for many in the country’s one-million strong migrant workforce.

Melbourne-based accounting student Love Goyal, said while he understands the Australian government’s need to protect the interests of its citizens and residents, he was “dispirited” by their stance.

“International education contributed $37.6 billion to Australia’s economy in the last financial year. We also support thousands of businesses and pay more taxes than domestic students. So why are we being left out?” said Mr Goyal.

The 22-year-old student from India said the Victorian Government’s initiative has ignited a “ray of hope” in the international student fraternity.

“It gives us immense relief thinking that at least Victoria is thinking about us and our future. We are grateful to the government and hope other states would follow suit,” said Mr Goyal.

Student
Love Goyal is an accounting student based in Melbourne.
Supplied

Pallav, another international student who works at Domino’s to supplement his income used to work for up to 20 hours a week. He has now lost a substantial portion of his work hours.

“Now I am getting only 13 to 14 hours a week and we have been told that we stand to lose more hours in days to come,” said Pallav.

He added that while he welcomes the state government’s move, creating jobs is just one part of the solution.

“I am grateful that at least the Victorian Government has taken the lead. But I'd request them to add us to the list of beneficiaries of its cash supplements so we can manage our daily needs today because it could take up to months for the opportunities to materialise and we need help now,” said Pallav.

A vast majority of universities have also announced hardship funds and are also offering other forms of support such as grocery vouchers, career counselling, mental health support. A few are also offering study loans and fee waivers.

Coronavirus symptoms can range from mild illness to pneumonia, according to the Federal Government's website. Symptoms can include a fever, coughing, sore throat, fatigue and shortness of breath.

If you develop symptoms within 14 days of returning from overseas, you should call to seek medical attention.

If you don’t have symptoms but you have been in contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case, you should also call to seek medical attention.

If you believe you may need to get tested, call your doctor, don’t visit. Or contact the national Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.

If you are struggling to breathe or experiencing a medical emergency, call 000.

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