The federal government upset a lot of people when Scott Morrison told international students to “go home”. With flights largely cancelled, doing so isn’t always possible, and for many, Australia is home.

Now NSW has become the last state to announce a support package for stranded international students, by allocating $20 million to crisis accommodation.

International students are among the countless people who’ve lost their jobs due to the pandemic, particularity those working in hospo. However, unlike Australian citizens, people on visas are not eligible for the JobSeeker or JobKeeper payments.

“International students are an integral part of our communities and our economy,” NSW Minister for Skills and Tertiary Education Geoff Lee said.

“Many have lost their part-time jobs, are unable to return to their home countries and do not qualify for Commonwealth Government support programs.”

In addition, the state government will provide extra support to the International Legal Service NSW and offer free advice specifically for international students on its hotline, 13 77 88.

According to the federal Department of Education, there were 626,052 international students in Australia as of March, just as the lockdowns began to kick in. These students are enrolled not just in universities, but also in private colleges and other forms of higher education around the country.

Five countries – China, India, Vietnam, Nepal and Brazil – account for just over half of all international students in Australia.

NSW is the last state to unveil a package to support international students. Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania all go as far as providing cash grants to these students in crisis.

Now there’s some financial respite in every state, at least until people can get back into work.

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