Financial hardship assistance
International students could be eligible for the following financial hardship assistance. Source: Saeed Khan/AFP

Many international students are facing unforeseen financial hardships due to the pandemic, warranting the need for some form of  financial hardship assistance.

Some had lost their part-time jobs, which helped them support themselves while abroad, while those who relied on their parents for financial support were also affected when their families lost their source of income. If you’re an international student in Australia and are wondering what funds are available to you, you may want to check out the following financial hardship assistance programmes: 

Financial hardship assistance in Australia

New South Wales 

Australian Red Cross has received NSW Government funding to support individuals without access to Commonwealth income support. The emergency relief aims to help people meet their basic needs, such as food, medicine or shelter.

Support is only for temporary and provisional visa holders, as well as individuals who may not currently hold a valid visa, in extreme financial hardship. “Emergency relief payments are not income support. They are limited and we know may not meet all your needs,” it says. Click here for application details.

International students may also be eligible for free food hampers via Study NSW’s partnership with Foodbank NSW & ACT. Click here for details.

Financial hardship support

Whether you’re struggling to pay rent or can’t afford groceries, these emergency reliefs could offer some respite. Source: William West/AFP


If you’re based in Victoria, you could be eligible for financial hardship assistance to help you pay rent, or to meet your basic needs. Eligible applicants can apply for the Australian Red Cross’ Extreme Hardship Support Program. An application can be made every two months and will be assessed against eligibility criteria at that time. 

Applicants should live in Victoria, be unable to access Commonwealth income support (including Job Seeker and SRSS), have zero or very limited income, savings or community support and hold a temporary or provisional visa, or not currently hold a valid visa. Click here for application details.

Separately, there is also the COVID-19 Rent Relief Grant programme by the Victorian government which helps renters who are experiencing rental hardship due to the pandemic. Grants of up to 1,500 Australian dollars will provide direct financial support to renters by making a contribution towards the cost of their rent directly to their landlord on their behalf. 

“The one-off payment is specifically for renters paying more than 30% of their income in rent who are living in a primary residence to help them maintain safe, secure and stable accommodation. Grants will be targeted at those who have lost an income of 20% or more due to the pandemic,” said the website.

ACT, Queensland, Northern Territory, South Australia, Tasmania and Western Australia

Financial hardship assistance in the form of a one-off emergency relief payment are also available for those living in other states of territories in Australia. “For people with significant vulnerabilities, Red Cross may be able to also provide some short term casework support alongside the payment,” said the Australian Red Cross. Click here for application details.

International students in Australia can also check with their respective universities for bursaries or financial hardship assistance that may be available to them. This could include mental health support, to fee deferrals and accommodation support.