By Kimberly Mitchiko, Study Melbourne Student Ambassador 2020
The rampant increase in the number of people infected by coronavirus has resulted in countries implementing travel bans and lockdowns which has affected tourism, leading to a bust in economy and unemployment worldwide.
This global health crisis is reshaping many lives of Filipino international students in Melbourne as many have been left facing key issues such as redundancy, financial strain, and mental health concerns
Despite having declared the required financial capability to support further studies prior arriving in Melbourne – many are worried as the impact of the coronavirus in the Philippines continues to affect their families back home, who also face unemployment and shut down of family businesses.
Most Filipino international students rely on their casual jobs in the hospitality industry to independently sustain their living. However, state government restrictions have caused massive unemployment as cafés and restaurants close, if not – services are limited to takeaway. This has left Filipino international students with nothing but insolvency on piled up housing and utility bills.
Students who have recently graduated are in a very challenging position, due to the fact that this is a difficult time to seek employment.
The Filipino community in Melbourne has shown kindness and compassion, as different groups, businesses and organisations gather donations such as hygiene kits, customised hand-sewn face masks, rice, canned goods, and cooked meal packs to be distributed to affected Filipino international students. The call out through social media has proven to be an effective way of connecting students with Filipino Australians who have a desire to assist them.
Some families warm-heartedly opened their households to provide free food and accommodation for those who can no longer pay their lease. Filipino bayanihan has been put to test and it was seen that no matter where Filipinos are – resiliency will defeat any mishap.
Study Melbourne is a Victorian Government body who protects and supports International Students all throughout the year in different areas such as – health, education, travel advisories and student visas, accommodation, employment, financial hardship, and wellbeing.
Apart from the usual services provided by the Student Centre, several services were extended to meet the needs of international students who were greatly affected by the crisis. In the next couple of weeks, online workshops will be available which will tackle areas of leadership, mental health, finding and applying for volunteer and entrepreneurial opportunities, and how can International Students get back on track once the crisis is over.
City of Melbourne has pledged for support: “The City of Melbourne will continue to work with Study Melbourne, the lead agency in delivering an online support service for international students.“
Despite the temporary closure of the Study Melbourne office located at Hardware Lane, the Study Melbourne Student Centre is continuously providing support through phone (1800 056 449) and online channels by booking an appointment at firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information, visit the Study Melbourne Website: https://www.studymelbourne.vic.gov.au/
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