Support for International Students: Pilot Hub Launched
International students have faced incredible hardship throughout the COVID-19 epidemic. Excluded from government benefits and even told to “go home” by some, many students found themselves without jobs, and lacking the money to pay rent or put food on the table. This desperate situation was only made worse by social isolation and the worry they had for family and friends in their home countries.
At the peak of the pandemic, six international students began regular International student support sessions for isolated students. These zoom sessions sparked an idea for a physical hub where international students could support one another, share stories and build skills. The Tenants’ Union worked as part of a Sydney Alliance organising committee to develop the idea. We also lent our support to a grant proposal. In late 2020, the City of Sydney awarded a grant of $100,000 to kickstart a pilot.
The Tenants’ Union was able to continue working with the international student organisers as part of their advisory committee. Members of the committee helped advise and build the community organising capacity of this talented group of international student organisers. On 26 May 2021, the Oz International Students Hub (OISH) officially launched in Surry Hills! We were thrilled when Investment NSW announced a grant of $120,000 to help the students continue their amazing work!
It is hoped that OISH will become an integral support for international students in NSW. In addition to mental health support and social activities, OISH has established “Reorientation Sessions”, helping students understand their work rights, student rights and tenancy rights. The Tenants’ Union has worked with OISH to develop tenancy-related content for these Reorientation Sessions. There are plans to roll out these education sessions so more students are aware of their rights and where they can go for help.
The pilot International Student Hub is based at 72 Mary Street, Surry Hills. For more information about the hub, or if you are keen to support in any way, you can contact Diana Olmos at Sydney Alliance.