Financial hardship

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.

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.

Extreme Hardship Support Program

The Extreme Hardship Support Program provides emergency financial assistance, information and referral to people who cannot access Commonwealth income support. It is available to people living in Victoria on temporary or provisional visas, including undocumented migrants who have zero or very limited savings, income or community support.

Eligible single people receive $800. Families receive more. You may be able to apply for an additional payment if you are still experiencing hardship after two months.

You will need to provide:

  • evidence of your current or most recent visa status such as your passport number or Immi card number
  • evidence of financial hardship (including current bank statements)
  • an email address
  • your bank account details (BSB and account number).

Apply via the Red Cross.

If you need help with your application call Red Cross on 1800 855 240.

Your privacy is protected under law. Red Cross does not share personal or visa information with the government.

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.

Other financial support

Free meals and groceries for international students in Victoria

International students who are struggling to pay for their food and groceries can access free and healthy food at Foodbank’s International Student Pop-Up Store. The Victorian Government has provided $1 million in funding to SecondBite, Foodbank Victoria and OzHarvest to provide free food and meals to international students in Victoria who are doing it tough. Keep an eye on our social media or visit the websites listed below for updates on other pop-up stores.

Find out how these organisations can help you:

To find other emergency food relief services in your local community, visit our directory of food relief and community support.

The COVID-19 Rent Relief Grant Program

The Victorian Government is assisting Victorians, including international students, who are struggling to pay their rent.

The COVID-19 Rent Relief Grant program will help renters who are experiencing rental hardship due to the coronavirus pandemic. Grants of up to $1500 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 per cent 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 per cent or more due to the pandemic.

For more information about the Rent Relief Grants, and to make an application visit the Housing Vic website.

Tuition fees

If you are concerned about your enrolment, fees or other issues related to your studies, you should first speak to your education provider to ask what your options are, such as deferring your enrolment, your payments, or accessing financial assistance. Check our list of universities’ COVID-19 responses to see what your education provider can offer you.

If your education provider cannot assist, you can email the Australian Department of Education, Skills and Employment at international.students@dese.gov.au.

Work

Working for Victoria initiative

If you’re legally allowed to work in Australia, you can apply for the Victorian Government’s Working for Victoria program. This includes workers who have recently lost their jobs and casuals who no longer have shifts. Find out more and apply here.

Your work rights during coronavirus (COVID-19)

The Fair Work Ombudsman provides helpful resources about your workplace entitlements and obligations if you're affected by the outbreak of covid-19. Learn more about employment rights for international students.

International Students Work Rights Legal Service

Study Melbourne's International Students Work Rights Legal Service offers free, confidential and independent legal advice for international students with work problems (excluding migration), including students who remain overseas. To book an appointment email info@studymelbourne.vic.gov.au. Translation services are also available.