Are you an international student currently in Victoria, Australia and struggling to pay rent? You’re not alone. Several international students in Australia are facing the same situation after losing part-time jobs after COVID-19 struck.
Now, you can apply for a relief payment of AU$1100 under the AU$45 million International Student Emergency Relief Fund recently announced by Minister for Jobs, Innovation and Trade Martin Pakula.
There is additional rent relief of up to AU$2000 under an AU$500 million assistance package to assist tenants and landlords previously announced by Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews.
Universities are expected to contribute to the International Student Emergency Relief Fund. A number are already offering financial aid in addition to this, such as Deakin University — which announced a AU$25 million package in early April — and Victoria University, whose student support fund offers AU$500 cash grants for those in need to help pay the rent.
How can international students in Australia apply for these forms of rent relief?
The first step is to find out if you’re eligible to receive the payments.
Under the International Student Emergency Relief Fund, eligible international students living in Victoria can claim for a one-off payment of up to AU$1100 if they can prove they have lost income.
On the official website, you can fill out this webform to register your interest and you will get a notification as soon as applications open.
As for the rent relief package, tenants must prove they are facing rental distress, meaning they are paying more than 30 percent of their wage or entitlements on rent, and have less than AU$5000 in savings in the bank.
The website states, “If you are eligible, you can apply for a grant at any time, however your application can only be processed if you have reached a voluntary agreement for a rent reduction or deferral of payment with your landlord and lodged this agreement with Consumer Affairs Victoria, or completed a mediation process through Consumer Affairs Victoria.”
If you have already lodged your new rental agreement with Consumer Affairs Victoria, you can proceed to apply for a Rent Relief Grant online.
If you’re unable to reach an agreement with your landlord, please contact Consumer Affairs Victoria for assistance.
Chief executive Jennifer Beveridge told Domain that international students were some of the first to contact them for housing assistance due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
She said, “We started registering concerns from international students as early as February. A number told us they were stranded overseas but were in ongoing lease arrangements and unable to return to Australian to resume studies due to travel restrictions.”
Minister for Jobs, Innovation and Trade Martin Pakula said, “Like so many people during this pandemic, international students have been affected by casual job losses in retail and hospitality, making it even tougher for them to make ends meet.”
“Many have also fallen through the cracks of federal government programs, unable to access the support they need to support themselves. A huge proportion are doing it really tough.”