Thursday, 14 May 2020
COVID-19: Overseas Students
I seek leave to amend general business notice of motion No. 571, standing in my name for today, in the terms circulated in the chamber.
I move the motion as amended:
That the Senate—
(a) notes that:
(i) over 550,000 international students currently study in Australia, contributing immensely to our community and economy,
(ii) many of these students are suffering enormous financial hardship at the moment due to unemployment, wage losses and instability during COVID-19,
(iii) students have been forced to queue at food banks, live in cramped accommodation, and rely on the charity of others in order to eat and make ends meet,
(iv) the government has excluded temporary visa holders, including international students, from federal income support, including Youth Allowance, JobSeeker, JobKeeper and the Coronavirus Supplement, and
(v) the government has not provided any other form of financial relief or hardship package for international students, while almost all states and territories have; and
(b) calls on the government to provide a financial relief package for international students.
There is an expectation, and there always has been, that temporary visitors to this country can look after themselves while they are here. As part of their visa applications, international students are required to demonstrate that they can support themselves completely in their first year. Students who have been here longer than 12 months who find themselves in financial hardship will be able to access their Australian superannuation. The government has also announced a $200 million boost to community services to expand support to people who need assistance paying bills and buying other essentials such as food, clothing and petrol. International students are protected against eviction from rental accommodation on the same basis as all Australians.