Financial assistance
International students in Australia could be eligible for temporary emergency income payment in Victoria. Source: William West/AFP

International students in Australia could be eligible for temporary financial assistance in Victoria. On Thursday (June 3), Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that the government would be offering up to 500 Australian dollars for workers adversely affected by the state’s extended lockdown.

According to ABC News, the scheme isn’t just for people in the current lockdown. “From now on, anybody who loses work in any state or territory that goes into a lockdown of longer than seven days will be able to access the support, but only from week two onwards,” it said.

According to Morrison, a A$500 payment will be available for people who usually work more than 20 hours in a week and A$325 for those who work fewer hours. “That is a support payment which is not unlike the type of payments that we make in relation to other disasters,” Morrison told parliament. “Whether that is bushfires or floods or cyclones, or the many other areas where the Commonwealth government provides that disaster relief. I see this very much as disaster relief for the people of Victoria. This is not something they have control about.”

Eligibility for the emergency financial assistance

emergency income payment

Melbourne faces at least one more week of lockdown. People in greater Melbourne who have lost work as a result of the lockdown could be eligible for an emergency financial assistance. Source: William West

In an interview with ABC Melbourne on the Commonwealth payment, Federal Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management David Littleproud said international students could be eligible. Littleproud had reportedly said: “I can confirm … any visa class permitted to work in Australia … will be eligible for the payment.” The government said people will be able to apply online for the payment, or call Services Australia, from next Tuesday (June 8).

International students can work up to 40 hours every two weeks while studying and unlimited hours during holiday breaks. The federal government, however, has offered a temporary relaxation of working hours for student visa holders during the pandemic. Students can work for more than 40 hours a fortnight if they are employed in certain sectors, including aged care service, agriculture and tourism and hospitality.

According to ABC News, to be eligible for the emergency financial assistance, you must be over 17 and living or working in a Commonwealth-defined hotspot area. They must also have liquid assets below A$10,000. “We are talking about somebody getting through the next week. Who would normally be in an economic situation where every dollar counts,” Morrison was quoted saying by The Canberra Times. 

Payment would be done on a “week-by-week basis.” If a lockdown goes beyond two weeks, you will have to reapply to have another weekly payment for as long as the lockdown lasts. The payment will end when the Commonwealth no longer defines an area as a hotspot, said the report. This means that even if a state or territory government keeps a lockdown in place after the hotspot definition is taken away, the payments will stop.