International Student Emergency Relief Fund

On 29 April 2020, the Victorian Government announced a $45 million fund to support international students in Victoria facing hardship as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The fund is being delivered in partnership with Victoria’s tertiary education providers.

The International Student Emergency Relief Fund will provide a payment of up to A$1,100 for vulnerable international students who have lost their job or had a significant reduction to their employment and are facing financial hardship as a result of coronavirus (COVID-19).

The fund complements the range of relief programs offered by Victorian universities, education providers and existing government support.

International students from Victoria’s tertiary education providers including universities, TAFEs, private Vocational Education and Training providers and English language colleges are eligible to apply for the hardship payment.

Find out more here

Extreme Hardship Support Program

If you can’t access the International Student Emergency Relief Fund, you may be eligible for financial assistance through Victoria’s Extreme Hardship Support Program. Find out how to apply through the Red Cross.


Permitted Worker Scheme

From 11:59pm on Wednesday 5 August, employers requiring their staff to attend a work site in Melbourne must issue a worker permit to their employees.

Details about the permitted work scheme including eligibility and the worker permit form are on the Business Victoria website.

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.

The Fair Work Ombudsman also provides general resources 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 make a phone appointment email services are also available.

Accessing your superannuation

If you are experiencing financial hardship and have been living in Australia for longer than 12 months, you can access your Australian superannuation. Register your details at myGov. myGov is a secure way to access government services online with one login and one password, and can be linked to your ATO account.

Working for Victoria program

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.

Free resume checking

Would you like a second opinion from one of our experienced career professionals? Email us your resume (in Word format) with a paragraph on your desired outcome and career goal:

Or drop in for a one-on-one Zoom chat with a career consultant and receive feedback and recommendations on your resume.

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. Register to apply for the Victorian Government’s International Student Emergency Relief Fund
  4. 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.
  5. If you are experiencing financial hardship and have been living in Australia for longer than 12 months, you can access your Australian superannuation. Register at MyGov.
  6. 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
  7. Contact your Embassy or local Consular Office to see if help is available.
  8. If you can’t find the information you need, or you require support or information from Study Melbourne, complete the support request form online.

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.

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 call dedicated staff at the Australian Department of Education, Skills and Employment on (+61) 1300 981 621 from 9am to 5pm , Monday to Friday AEDT, except public holidays. You can also email

Emergency food and supplies

Emergency relief packages are available for vulnerable Victorians needing to undertake mandatory self-quarantine due to coronavirus (COVID-19). 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.

More information on these emergency relief packages can be found at the Department of Health and Human Services website.

For further information about local food relief services, you can visit some of the following community organisations: