The Australian Homestay Network (AHN) is showing international students in Australia that they have their backs — and the roofs over their heads.
According to a press release, the company was inspired by Study in Australia’s #InThisTogether campaign and has been working with universities and accommodation providers to let international students know there are many local Australian families willing to support them.
Many international students in Australia have lost their part-time jobs due to the pandemic and will struggle to pay their rent. Some have been forced to leave their dorms as universities closed — leaving many homeless.
As they have been largely left out of financial relief offered by the government, and cannot head back home due to travel restrictions, many are now stranded and put in a vulnerable situation.
Many universities and state agencies have come forward to offer emergency support to international students in Australia, but they could still use all the help and support they can get from the community.
The AHN has established the International Student Support Network, where locals can sign up as hosts to provide short-term homestay accommodation, meals and safe home environments. Hosts will receive a small reimbursement to help cover expenses incurred from the student’s stay.
They are urging local families to take the opportunity to participate in the programme in a semi-volunteer capacity and become a short-term host for international students in need.
The AHN is also offering “purpose-built accommodation operators and schools with on-campus residences” the option to serve as a temporary location if relocation is needed due to any physical or mental health concerns students or their parents may have.
AHN Founder, David Bycroft, told The PIE News, “COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on the international education economy and on international students in Australia, many of whom are facing extreme financial hardship and are unable to travel home.”
“We’re looking for community-minded people to show these students that Australia does care about them and we are here to support them.”
“ISSN homestay is a comfortable, safe and economical solution to help international students get through these tough times so they can experience the best of Australia once the crisis has passed.”
“If we can offer them some peace of mind and structure by connecting them with a compassionate local family — we want to make that happen.”
International students contributed AU$37.6 billion to the Australian economy last year. The international student sector is the third-largest service-based export in the country and supports over 200,000 jobs.