The education sector, both institutions and our students are feeling the impact in these challenging times. The current landscape is changing incredibly quickly. Study Sunshine Coast and Study Queensland promises to continue to keep you abreast of major changes on a frequent basis.
At this critical time, we are all feeling isolated and lonely. Restrictions on interactions make it even tougher for our international student community. Student welfare will always be our top priority. In line with this, Study Queensland has launched our new video campaign this week, building off the #inthistogether campaign. Watch the video here and please feel free to share it.
Queensland will continue to support students through online appointments and telephone support with our statewide student hotline 1800QSTUDY (1800 778 839) remaining open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Student wellbeing is our priority and we encourage students to contact 1800QSTUDY or their local student hub for questions or support regarding accommodation, employability, English language, study issues or mental health support.
The National Coronavirus Information Helpline, 1800 020 080 is also available 24/7 for information and advice on COVID-19. Translating assistance when seeking medical advice is available by calling TIS – Translating and Interpreting Service on 13 14 50.
The Australian Government has provided a dedicated email and hotline for international students – email@example.com or call 1300 981 621 (8am to 8pm AEDST Monday to Friday – calls within Australia only).
Major new social distancing measures have been enacted across Australia.
Gatherings are restricted to two people, indoor and outdoors, with the exclusion of family and work colleagues (social distancing of one person per 4 sqm still applies in workspaces).
Anyone who now arrives in Australia from a foreign destination must spend 14 days in quarantine. Australian Border Force will direct travellers to designated accommodation for the period.
Additionally, significant restrictions across Queensland’s border have been imposed.
Please be mindful of these requirements. Penalties apply.
COVID-19 and Temporary Visa Holders
The Federal Government has enabled international students who fall on financial hardship caused by COVID-19 to access their superannuation accrued while working in Australia. Students must have been studying in Australia for at least 12 months to be eligible. The announcement can be found here.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has issued a warning against scams that are doing the rounds at the moment.
Be wary of:
- Cold calls from people claiming to be from organisations that can help you get access to your super;
- Hyperlinks to the myGov website.
New Whatsapp and Coronavirus app
The Government has established a new app that will provide up-to-date official information about current and any future measures as well as a government WhatsApp channel.
The apps are available for free through the Apple App Store for Apple devices and Google Play for Android devices. The Whatsapp channel, can be activated at: aus.gov.au/whatsapp
The National Cabinet has endorsed its largest single tranche financial commitment yesterday – a $130bn incentive for employers to retain employees over the coming six months.
Employers will be paid a fortnightly $1500 payment (before tax) for employees whose roles have been affected by COVID-19. The JobKeeper Payment is paid to employers (via ATO) who then remunerate employees as part of their regular process.
To be eligible, a business’ turnover must be down 30% or more; 50% or more for a business with a turnover of $1 billion or more.
Payments start on May 1, backdated to March 30.
Employers can find out more, here.
Study Queensland has been proactively engaging our international education and training partners in other states in looking extension of payments, and continue to do so.
The Australian Government has announced special working arrangements for international students who are currently employed by major supermarkets or working in Australia’s aged care sector.
More information on this is available at the following links:
Rental relief for tenants
Over the next six months, tenants cannot be evicted for falling behind in their rental payments as a result of COVID-19 measures which have ended or reduced their hours of work.
Tenants have to prove that they have lost employment and that they are ineligible to receive Centrelink support and are not benefitting from the recently announced JobKeeper package.
Tenants need to collaborate with their property manager or landlord to address this issue. The Prime Minister has conceded that more work needs to be done in this area.
The National Cabinet will consider more issues in regard to residential tenancies when it meets on 3 April.
Business rental relief
International education and training providers have likewise been protected from eviction for falling behind in rent as a result of COVID-19 financial stress over the next six months.
There is more clarity around how businesses and their landlords – who can opt for a deferral on business loan repayments over the next six months – have to come to an agreement.
The National Cabinet and treasurers have endorsed principles to manage the relationships which can be found here.
The Australian Banking Association said measures will apply in all sectors of the economy, on an opt-in basis, under the conditions that:
- For commercial property landlords, they provide an undertaking to the bank that for the period of the interest capitalisation, they will not terminate leases or evict current tenants for rent arrears as a result of COVID19.
- The customer has advised that its business is affected by COVID-19.
- The customer was current in terms of existing facilities 90 days prior to applying.
As always, keep abreast of COVID-19 economic initiatives already announced: