Financial hardship

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

  1. Reach out to your family support network for help
  2. 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.
  3. Speak to a financial counsellor, who will listen to your problems and help you with things like bills or fines you're struggling to pay; gas, electricity or phone disconnection; being evicted from your house; and car accidents with no insurance. To find free 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.
  4. Find organisations that may be able to help with community support and food relief, such as:
    1. Australian Red Cross
    2. Community Information and Support Victoria (CISVic) 
    3. Empower Australia
    4. Salvation Army
    5. Or check our directory of organisations offering community support and food relief
  5. Contact your Embassy or local Consular Office to see if help is available.
  6. If you can’t find the information you need, or you require support or information from Study Melbourne, complete the support request form online.

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.

Utility relief grant scheme

Relief grants for paying overdue energy or water bills are available to low-income Victorians experiencing unexpected hardship. The grant provides help to pay a mains electricity, gas or water bill that is overdue due to a temporary financial crisis. Students that can demonstrate that they are on a low income are also eligible to apply. Visit the DHHS website to find out more.

Rent relief

Rental relief grants of up to $3,000 are available to international students whose income has been affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic while in Australia. Read about the rent relief grants here.

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


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 Translation services are also available.