Page last updated 17 Jun 2021

Study Melbourne is dedicated to supporting our international student community in Melbourne and Victoria during this challenging time as we share the impact of the global COVID-19 outbreak.

We want to reassure you that we are here for you and that you are not alone.

To help you stay up-to-date with the latest information, and find the help and support you need, we’ve put together the following Frequently Asked Questions.

GeneralInternational Students Emergency Relief FundAdditional Support
Employment and FinancesHealthTravel
AccommodationEducation, Visas and Consular AssistanceMental Health and Wellbeing

General

Where can I get the latest advice for international students in Victoria?

Visit the Study in Australia website for additional information and advice about health, education, travel and visas.

Someone I know needs translation services, where can I get help?

Is the Study Melbourne Student Centre open?

  • The Study Melbourne Student Centre building has temporarily closed to protect the health and wellbeing of our student community and staff.
  • We are dedicated to supporting you during this challenging time.
  • We will continue to provide the same case-work, mental health assistance and legal advice services as we always have – it will now happen online and over the phone, by appointment. Translation services are also available.
  • The Study Melbourne Student Centre is usually a hive of activity for student events. We’ve placed a hold on group face-to-face events for now and we are working with our event partners to re-invent our events program into online offerings. Find out more by visiting the Study Melbourne events page.

How can I protect myself against online COVID-19 scammers?

  • There is a significant increase in malicious activity surrounding coronavirus (COVID-19), including misinformation made to appear to be from trusted sources such as government agencies and media outlets.
  • For more information on how to identify a scam, and how to protect yourself visit the Consumer Affairs Victoria website.

International Students Emergency Relief Fund

What financial support is the Victorian Government providing?

  • Applications for the Victorian Government’s International Student Emergency Relief Fund closed on 31 December 2020.
  • The Fund supported over 33,000 international students in Victoria who faced financial hardship through lost wages and work as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The fund provided a one-off payment of up to $1100 and was delivered in partnership with Victoria’s tertiary education providers.
  • International students in Victoria who are experiencing financial hardship may be eligible for emergency financial assistance through the Victorian Government’s Extreme Hardship Support Program.

Additional Support

Can I access the Extreme Hardship Support Program?

  • You may be able to access financial help through the Extreme Hardship Support Program.
  • People who are living in Victoria on temporary or provisional visas or as undocumented migrants, and struggling with basic living costs like food, housing and bills, can apply for a support payment.
  • The Victorian Government has recently doubled this payment to provide extra support to Victorians during the pandemic.
  • If you have received a $400 payment before 1 October 2020 and are still experiencing financial hardship, you can apply for an additional payment of $400 now. You may also be eligible for an additional payment of $800 if you are still experiencing financial hardship after two months.
  • If you apply for support after 1 October 2020 and are deemed eligible you will receive a payment of $800. You will also be eligible for an additional payment of $800 if you are still experiencing financial hardship after two months. You can apply on the Red Cross website.
  • If you need assistance with your online application, please call the Red Cross on 1800 855 240.

What support is available for students struggling to pay for food and groceries?

  • The Victorian Government is helping international students in Victoria to access the food and groceries they need for free.
  • Foodbank, OzHarvest and SecondBite are providing food aid to international students in Victoria experiencing financial hardship.
  • Foodbank's pop-up grocery store in the CBD is open from 10am to 2pm every Monday, Wednesday and Friday (except public holidays) and is located at 230 La Trobe Street.
  • OzHarvest provides bags of groceries for collection in metropolitan Melbourne, Geelong, Bendigo and Ballarat. Find the collection points on the Study Melbourne website.
  • These organisations operate across both metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria.
  • This program complements a range of relief programs offered by Victorian universities, education providers and existing government support.

Employment and Finances

What can I do if I have questions/issues about my employment rights?

  • For helpful resources about your workplace entitlements and obligations if you're affected by the outbreak of coronavirus laws visit the Fair Work Ombudsman website.
  • For helpful resources for international students about their employment rights visit the Fair Work Ombudsman website.
  • You can also make an appointment with one of the lawyers at the International Student Work Rights and Accommodation Legal Service, who provide free and confidential legal advice, by calling the Study Melbourne Student Centre on 1800 056 449 (9AM to 5PM AEST). If you are overseas, please email info@studymelbourne.vic.gov.au to make a phone consultation with one of our lawyers. This is a free service.
  • You can also refer to International Student Legal Information, a free legal information resource for international students living in Victoria. You can read stories based on legal problems international students have had and learn about the people and services available to help you.

Can I apply to find work through the Working for Victoria program?

  • If you’re an international student on a student visa and are legally able to work in Australia, you can register for the Victorian Government’s Working for Victoria initiative.
  • Jobseekers can register on the Working for Victoria online jobs platform to find work and free training.

I am experiencing financial hardship. Where can I find assistance?

Pandemic financial support payments

International students who are studying and working in Australia may be able to access financial assistance when they are:

  • required to self-isolate or are caring for someone with COVID-19 (Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment) or;
  • adversely affected by a state public health order and are required to be in lockdown for more than seven days (COVID-19 Disaster Payment).

For more information on the financial support payments, including eligibility criteria, refer to https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/individuals/services/centrelink

COVID-19 Disaster Payment

The Australian Government has announced a new COVID-19 Disaster Payment to help people affected by COVID-19 restrictions.

The new payment will help Victorian workers who are unable to earn income due to lockdown restrictions.

To be eligible you must be an Australian resident, permanent resident or eligible working visa holder.

For more information visit payments and services during coronavirus.

There are a number of steps you can take if you are experiencing financial hardship:

  1. Ask your education provider about what support is available for international students during this time. Many Australian education institutions are supporting students through Hardship Funds, extended pastoral support and innovative partnerships with community organisations.
  2. You may be able to access financial help through the Extreme Hardship Support Program. Find more information about financial relief on our Employment and Finances page.
  3. Speak to a financial counsellor, who will listen to your concerns and help you with things like bills or fines, if you are:
    1. struggling to pay gas or electricity or have had your phone disconnected
    2. being evicted from your house
    3. paying for car damage if you don’t have insurance.
  4. To find free and confidential financial counselling services you can:
    1. speak to your education provider’s student union or student services
    2. visit the ASIC MoneySmart website
    3. call the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007 for over-the-phone support or referrals to local financial counsellors.
  5. Contact your Embassy or local Consular Office to see if help is available.

Emergency food and supplies

  • Find more detailed information about community support and emergency food relief available across Melbourne at our Community support and food relief page.
  • Emergency relief packages are available for vulnerable people in Victoria who need to undertake mandatory self-quarantine due to coronavirus (COVID-19). If you are in urgent need and don’t have a support network to help you, call the coronavirus hotline on 1800 675 398.  Find out more by visiting the Victorian Government's coronavirus website.

Travel

Are there any new travel bans or special conditions on travel?

When can I return to Melbourne/Victoria/Australia to continue/begin my studies?

The Victorian Government is continuing to work with education providers and the Australian Government on a plan that will facilitate the gradual return of international students when conditions allow.

Timing for the commencement of international student arrivals is to be confirmed, following further consultation with the Australian Government.

It is difficult to provide a definitive timeline for when international students can return to Victoria in significant numbers. This will depend on health advice, the rollout of vaccines and other factors that need to be considered to ensure the safety of the community.

Limited travel exemptions are available for eligible international students who can meet specific criteria outlined by the Australian Government.

These exemptions include some health, nursing or medical students who have the critical skills to contribute to Victoria’s COVID-19 response and PhD candidates who are undertaking research within Australia’s national interest.

For information about student visas, including how online study outside Australia may count towards a Temporary Graduate (subclass 485) visa, visit the Department of Home Affairs website.

I'm currently living in Australia. Can I return home under current restrictions?

There is currently a ban in place preventing overseas travel from Australia. If you’re an Australian citizen or permanent resident, you can’t leave Australia unless you get an exemption to travel or you’re travelling to a destination that’s exempt from the ban. Foreign citizens are able to depart Australia at any time.

Visit the Department of Home Affairs’ webpage on Leaving Australia for further information, including details on exemptions to the ban and exemption restrictions for high risk countries.

Health

What can I do to protect myself and my community?

  • To keep yourself, and your friends and family safe there are three key actions that Victorians are being asked to continue:
    • Stay at home if you are unwell.
    • Keep your distance – stay 1.5 metres away from others.
    • Practise good hygiene.
  • Stay healthy with good nutrition, regular exercise and sleep. Limit alcohol intake and smokers should consider quitting.
  • It is important to keep socially connected as a community, even while physically distancing. You can do this by taking some simple steps, including making regular times to talk to friends and family.
  • Stay informed. Use information from reputable sources, for example the Victorian Government's coronavirus website.

What if I’m not eligible for Medicare and I need medical care for COVID-19?

  • If you are a student from overseas on a temporary student visa it is a condition of your visa to maintain adequate health insurance for the duration of your visa. This means you need to purchase Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) and keep your policy up to date as long as you hold this visa.
  • For international students who do not have adequate insurance coverage, Victorian hospitals will waive the costs of treatment. This includes waiving payment and debt recovery procedures for ambulance transfers of people in mandatory hotel quarantine suspected to have coronavirus (COVID-19), who are taken to Victorian hospitals for assessment.
  • These arrangements have been put in place to ensure payment issues are not a barrier for people from overseas with COVID-19 symptoms seeking early medical advice. Seeking medical treatment will not affect your visa.
  • For more information, visit the Victorian Government's coronavirus website.

How do I know what health services and other support I’m covered for?

I am in isolation and need assistance getting supplies. Where can I get info?

  • Emergency relief packages are available for vulnerable people in Victoria who need to undertake mandatory self-quarantine due to COVID-19. Visit the Victorian Government's coronavirus website to learn more.
  • If you are in urgent need and don’t have a support network who can help you, call the coronavirus hotline on 1800 675 398.

What income support is available during isolation?

Pandemic Leave Support

If you can't earn an income because you must self-isolate at home or are caring for someone with coronavirus (COVID-19), you may be eligible for support from the Australian Government. To be eligible, the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services must have contacted you to tell you to self-isolate or quarantine. Visit the Services Australia website for more details. Apply by calling 180 22 66, 8am to 5pm Monday to Friday.

$450 Coronavirus (COVID-19) Test Isolation Payment

If you’re self-isolating while waiting for COVID-19 test results and can’t earn an income during that time, you may be eligible to receive the $450 Test Isolation Payment. Find out more about the COVID-19 Test Isolation Payment.

Study Melbourne Student Centre

If you are an international student you can also receive free and confidential support and practical help through the Study Melbourne Student Centre, including referral to mental health and other services .

Mental Health and Wellbeing

I need help urgently. What support is available?

    If you are in an emergency or at immediate risk of harming yourself or others, please contact emergency services on 000.

    Coronavirus (COVID-19) is causing a lot of uncertainty for students, especially when it comes to work and study. Many people are feeling stressed, anxious, depressed and generally overwhelmed, even when completing the smallest of tasks.

    You are not alone and there are many support services available and people here to help you.

    Whatever you are feeling, you can talk to a counsellor who will listen, give advice and help you get the support you need. If you are worried about someone else, these services can also offer guidance and resources so you can help them.

    Services to help you  

    Listed below are services you can contact for immediate support. You can talk to someone on the phone, visit websites to chat with someone online, or join forums and communities to connect with people experiencing similar feelings to you.

    If you are in an emergency or at immediate risk of harming yourself or others please contact emergency services on 000.
    • Suicide Call Back Service – 1300 659 467
    • Lifeline – 13 11 14 or you can find access to interpreters and translated services here
    • Beyond Blue – 1300 22 4636   or you can find translated resources and videos on how to get help here
    • Kids Helpline – 1800 55 1800  or click ‘Translate’ at the bottom of the page for your preferred language
    • MensLine – 1300 789 978  or you can find translated information here

    There are also many online tools and resources to help you navigate this challenging time and support you to start feeling better:

What online mental health support resources are available?

  • It's OK to experience feelings of anxiety, distress and concern in relation to coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. It’s important to talk to someone, and ask for support. Seeking help will not affect your visa. You can access free online resources to help you look after your mental wellbeing:

I am having trouble coping with isolation and loneliness. What can I do?

  • You are not alone. Many others are feeling the same way.
  • There are lots of things you can do to connect with others, even from home. Here are some ideas:
    • Talking with friends and family over phone or social media is a great way to stay in touch with people you care about
    • Call the support services and find online communities and clubs at your education provider, perhaps you could even suggest ways students can connect?
    • Join Study Melbourne’s International Students of Melbourne and Victoria Facebook group and look up the online events and workshops on the Study Melbourne website. Study Melbourne events are designed for students who may not know anyone – we want you to know you are not alone.
    • Organise a virtual coffee date with a colleague or professional contact you admire
  • If you need to talk to someone about your situation and your overseas student health care provider or institution are unable to help, you can seek help from the following places:
    • Lifeline – 13 11 14
    • Beyond Blue – 1300 22 4636
    • Kids Helpline – 1800 55 1800
    • MensLine - 1300 789 978
    • ReachOut
  • You can share your message of support by:
    • Posting your coronavirus (COVID-19) message on social media with a photo or video
    • Encouraging others to also show their support!

If you can’t find the information you need, or you require support or information from Study Melbourne, send us an email.

What should I do if I experience racism or discrimination?

  • The complaint can be lodged by the victim or by someone on their behalf. You can also choose to report the incident anonymously if you do not wish to be identified.
  • To make a complaint or enquiry in a language other than English, send an email to enquiries@veohrc.vic.gov.au with your name, preferred language and a contact number. VEOHRC will arrange to call you with an interpreter.
  • Translated information about making a complaint is available here.

How do I seek assistance for family violence?

Family violence is emotional abuse, financial abuse, physical or sexual violence, and coercive and controlling behaviour. This can include someone restricting your movement or isolating you from friends or family. There are people you can speak with and numbers to phone if you, or someone you know, is living in fear or needs help or support.

  • If you feel frightened or are concerned about your own or someone’s safety and wellbeing, or if you need to reach a place of safety, call safe steps 1800 015 188 for advice, help and support. If you or someone you know is in immediate danger call 000.
  • You can also call 1800 737 732 (1800RESPECT), which provides family and domestic violence counselling, information and support.

You may be able to access support and assistance from your university counselling service.

Education, Visas and Consular Assistance

Are schools and universities closing?

Stay up to date on the latest government restrictions and guidance for schools.

Make sure you contact your education provider or visit the Victorian Government’s coronavirus website for more information.

My classes are now all online. How will this affect my fees/student visa?

How do I stay safe online?

E-safety is an issue that affects many students. Online abuse and non-consensual sharing of images is a prevalent experience of intimate abuse. You can find help for online abuse by visiting the eSafety commissioner website.

To report abuse click on the ‘Report Abuse’ button in the top right-hand corner of the page.

  • When you report abuse the commissioner has the power to work across social media to take down any abusive images and prevent them from being re-posted.
  • The Police will also work to prosecute any offenders for posting images.

I am experiencing problems with my education provider. What can I do?

  • If you are concerned about your enrolment, fees or other issues related to your studies, please contact your education provider to ask what your options are during this time, such as moving to online study, deferring your enrolment, managing your payments, or accessing extra student supports or financial assistance. If you would like to make a complaint to your education provider, you will need to follow their complaints process. This can be found on your education provider’s website.
  • If your education provider cannot assist you, you can contact the Department of Education via email: international.students@dese.gov.au.
  • The Office of the Commonwealth Ombudsman investigates complaints that international students have with private education providers. A private education provider can be a school, college or university in Australia. If you are studying at a private education provider, and have not been able to resolve your problem through their internal complaints process, you can contact the Commonwealth Ombudsman for Overseas Students.

How can I access assistance from my Consulate/Embassy?

  • While we are here to ensure our students feel supported during this uncertain time, we understand you may need to alert your home country if you are experiencing difficulties or to register with them. If you need advice about returning to your home country, please contact your local Consular office.
  • Find the location of your local Consular office by visiting the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website.

Accommodation

What can I do if I have questions/issues about my accommodation?

  • Consumer Affairs Victoria has information for students whose accommodation in Victoria has been impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19) travel ban. Visit their website to learn more.
  • You can also make an appointment with one of the lawyers at the International Student Work Rights and Accommodation Legal Service, who provide free and confidential legal advice, by emailing the Study Melbourne Student Centre.
  • If you are overseas, please send us an email and our team will coordinate a time for one of our lawyers to speak with you about accommodation matters over the phone.
  • You can also refer to International Student Legal Information, a free legal information resource for international students living in Victoria. You can read stories based on legal problems international students have had, and learn about the people and services that can help you.
  • Tenants Victoria also have detailed information for renters impacted by coronavirus (COVID-19) on their website, including what to do if you are worried about paying rent.

How do I self-isolate if I live in shared accommodation?

  • If you need to self-isolate, you must stay in your home or accommodation and not attend public places, including work, public areas of university and higher education campuses. Only people you usually live with should stay in the home or accommodation. Do not see visitors.
  • Observe the recommended physical distancing requirements (1.5m) from the people around you in the home and always practice good hygiene: 
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, sneezing, or using the toilet. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitiser that contains at least 60 per cent alcohol.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
    • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow.
    • Do not share drinking bottles, crockery and cutlery.
  • Ask others (who are not required to be isolated) to get food and necessities for you. If you must leave your accommodation, such as to seek medical care, wear a surgical mask if you have one. If you don’t have a mask, take care to not cough or sneeze on others and maintain good hand hygiene.
  • For the latest information and advice on coronavirus (COVID-19), visit www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au.

Where can I go if I can’t self-isolate at home?

  • If you are unable to properly self-isolate at home, you should seek out alternative accommodation. Your accommodation provider may also be able to provide you with guidance on alternative living arrangements.
  • The Study Melbourne Student Centre offers a wide range of confidential in-language support services that can be accessed online or over the phone – including related to accommodation issues.
  • The Study Melbourne Student Centre is here to support you to access the information and support you need.
  • If you require support from Study Melbourne, send Study Melbourne an email.
  • Please be patient and we will contact you as soon as possible.
  • As our service is busier than usual, please call us on 1800 056 449 for urgent matters only - this will keep call waiting times as short as possible.

I can’t afford to pay my rent because of coronavirus (COVID-19). What can I do?

Victoria’s renting rules changed for everyone from 11.59pm on Sunday 28 March 2021. The new rules create a fairer, safer system for all.

For the latest information and advice on renting laws and support visit the VictorianGovernment’s coronavirus website.

International Student Work Rights and Accommodation Legal Service

If you are unsure about your rights, you can make an appointment with a lawyer at the International Student Work Rights and Accommodation Legal Service to access free and confidential legal advice. Too book an appointment, email the Study Melbourne Student Centre on info@studymelbourne.vic.gov.au.