WELCOME, SUPPORT & JUSTICE
A new chapter for Sydney & international students
"I used to introduce myself as an Indian student in Australia, today I am a Colombian, a Nepalese and a Chinese, today I am part of the community of international students ready to take action in the issues that affect us most". Amit Vikram Singh, one of our inspiring assistant community organisers”
COVID-19 has revealed the very worst of the precariousness and exploitation that international students have faced in Sydney for a long time. As the center of Australia’s international education “market”, Sydney’s universities and private education providers have been expanding their businesses toward international students for over 30 years.
The experience of Sydney and international students is an expression of market values, not civic ones. On the surface international education is talked about as “educating the world” and “cross-cultural experience”, but the reality is that many international students are highly isolated and never have the opportunity to develop deep relationships with locals by the end of their studies, and face systematic injustice in all fields of their life. This system makes them more susceptible to exploitation and has created an ‘underclass’ of people who live, work and study in Australia, but don’t have the same rights.
With the support of the Sydney Community Forum and UWU, we started to organise a space for international students back in April 2020. This space is called Oz International Student Chapter where international students have been organising their own community. We celebrated the collective work in the win for the NSW crisis accommodation for international students.
Since August this year, we have created an internship program for international students, we have trained 14 students community organisers from diverse backgrounds who are going to be graduating next 10th December and are ready to join the civic work in Sydney.
What happened since our last Sydney Alliance Council meeting?
- We have hosted 3 workshops with the SCF, UWU, MYAN, TU, SDA, Unions NSW, and assistant organisers to explore and discuss the next steps to work on the project of Welcome, Support and Justice; an organisation ideally funded by private education providers and Local Government Councils that ensure welfare support and justice for international students in Sydney, presented in the last council. Here are the main outcomes:
- Assistant organisers and Sydney Alliance leaders conducted research action meetings with academics, peak education bodies, legal centres, migration experts, and OSO and local government.
- We have won a small grant from the Australian Progress to support advocacy work for international students, on top of a partnership between Sydney Community Forum and City of Sydney that supports this work.
- Campaigning with over 180 organisations as part of the National Coordinated campaign for emergency relief packages from NSW and Federal Government worth $34Million - including $21M for accommodation support in NSW for international students facing eviction and homelessness.
- NSW transport concession card for international students.
Oz international student chapter has endorsed the campaign for travel concession card for international students. NSW is the only state in Australia that does not provide travel concession to international students is the one of the main states that attract international students.
What is next?
Our Findings showed a need to create an international student Hub, a place run by the civil society and the community of international students where we can tackle social isolation and welfare support. We are proposing to work on a recovery grant to the City of Sydney and we need your support in the form of recommendation letters.
Do you or anyone in your organisation would be interested to join the work with international students? Contact Diana Olmos [email protected]ydneyalliance.org.au to have an introductory conversation