Welcome emergency support for international students in Victoria – Federal Government must now follow the lead of states and territories
United Workers Union welcomes the announcement from the Victorian Government of emergency financial support for international students during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The union has been highlighting the terrible situation of international students in crisis with widespread job losses and financial distress.
Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg can no longer be inactive on these issues and must extend this assistance federally during the COVID-19 period.
Tim Kennedy, United Workers Union National Secretary says, “United Workers Union takes heart from another state or territory government taking action on this issue and the Victorian government’s recognition of the contribution of international students to the state’s society and economy. No worker should be left behind in the coronavirus crisis.
“The union’s international student members have been facing a dire situation, cut off from Federal Government assistance and affordable healthcare during the coronavirus crisis. The union is aware of many heartbreaking situations of international students in financial distress due to the widespread loss of casual work in sectors like hospitality. This financial assistance will make a start to alleviate these financial pressures.”
Isuru, an international student, lost all his casual cleaning shifts at Monash University. He told his union, “They suddenly stood us down. All of us are in big trouble. But we all have the daily expenses like food, rent. So we hope for some help, for some relief, for some fair payment for daily expenses.”
United Workers Union continues to call on the Federal Government to implement the following measures to support migrant workers nationwide:
- Guaranteed paid special leave for all workers – permanent, casual, labour hire and contract – who are forced to either self-isolate as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, or where there is a genuine business downturn or shutdown as a result of the pandemic.
- Universal income support for all workers – permanent, casual, labour hire and contract – who lose work as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, or where there is a genuine business downturn or shutdown as a result of the pandemic.
- Access to universal healthcare and accommodation protection through waiving/and or moratorium on rent. Access to Medicare so that all workers feel safe to get the treatment they need irrespective of visa status.
- Immediate end to visa enforcement and detention actions by the Department of Home Affairs targeting essential workers, noting that these actions serve only to force workers in hiding which, at this time, poses a serious risk to their health. Immediate resolution of status for the thousands of undocumented migrant workers in Australia, to provide them with lawful status to continue their crucial work.
- Immediate government funding for adequate community isolation stations for temporary migrant workers to access if they are exposed to the virus, and to ensure workers do not face out-of-pocket expenses related to COVID-19 testing and treatment.
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