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Looking after International Students is Vital for our Economy

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  • Millions of parents across the globe invest in their children’s future. Imagine that future involves your child moving to a foreign country leaving their family, friends, home, culture, community and language behind to pursue the Australian dream. A dream that was sold to them by the Australian Government - success, opportunity and a better life. But then a pandemic strikes, everyone goes into survival mode, and that mode excludes looking after the people who were sold an education at an unbelievable premium.

    While the Government has implemented various supports for Australians through this tough time, it’s no secret that they’ve left out anyone who’s holding a temporary visa. This includes skilled workers, working holiday travellers, refugees and international students. In fact, a recent survey found that 65% of temporary workers lost their jobs due to the pandemic. This group of people have typically made huge investments and sacrifices to relocate their lives to Australia. They pay taxes, enrich our culture and communities, and right now they need our help.

    Dire circumstances are forcing tough living conditions

    As the effects of the pandemic continue more and more, stories are coming out about how international students are adapting to survive. One survey found 43% of temporary migrants are regularly skipping meals. Others have resorted to living in their car after losing jobs leaving them unable to afford rent. While others are relying on support from their family abroad because their accounts have being bled dry.

    Some have argued that anyone unable to support themselves and not a resident or citizen should just ‘go home.’ But going home isn’t always that easy. A lack of flight availability, flight affordability, and border closures are just some of the reasons returning home is a logistical nightmare. And that doesn’t even touch on the aforementioned fact that these people have made huge investments and sacrifices to be here. Leaving Australia to see out the pandemic doesn’t guarantee re-entry when things begin to reopen and for international students who have committed thousands of dollars in their education, that is too big of a price to pay.

    The way we treat people now will circle back to us

    We’re a country that relies on international workers across many industries and that in itself should warrant at least some protection. The way we’re treating temporary visa holders now could have dire consequences once borders reopen. We all know how much weight a ‘word of mouth’ recommendation holds - and choosing a new country to invest your life into is probably one of the biggest decisions a person will ever make. Right now, international communities are assessing the way each country is looking after their visitors and a bad experience could mean that Australia is looked upon less favourably. This could have ripple effects on the labor force particularly in hospitality and tourism, agriculture, au pairs, nannies and beauty therapists. Not to mention the changes it could force in Australia's tertiary education given our dependence on the international student tuition fees. It’s not only in our humanitarian interests to protect them, it’s in our economic interests as well.

    Get involved in a solution

    So what can you do to help? Well, if you have a spare room in your home you could sign up to The Room Xchange as a host. We have many people around the country ready to help out in your home in ‘Xchange’ for their accommodation. The arrangement can be as temporary or long term as you like and it’s all covered under our public liability insurance. If you’re a temporary visa holder and in need of a more flexible living arrangement, sign up with us as a guest. Each ‘Xchange’ is as unique as the people involved so don’t be afraid to let them know of any skills or hobbies you might be able to share with them!