Overview – International Student Welfare
In addition to helping International students continue with their study Australian TAFEs are enlisting many forms of support for those students who have lost access to work that normally assists with their living expenses.
Support with living expenses
Food is been provided through grocery boxes and home delivery services, free breakfast and lunch packs daily and food vouchers.
TAFEs have also been helping to find emergency accommodation when students have been required to vacate their rental properties and offering rent waivers for students living in TAFE residences.
Payment arrangements and deferrals are offered for those in financial hardship. In those instances where students have secured flights to return home, some TAFEs have given full fee refunds. One large metropolitan TAFE is offering hardship scholarships and has partnered with some philanthropic organisations to provide financial assistance to students.
Well-being is paramount
TAFEs make direct contact with each of their international students. The contact is mainly by phone and checks focusing on the well-being of each student, especially those at higher risk. Telephone and Skype counselling sessions have been put in place for those who need them.
New pastoral care support has been stood up, with new roles created such as an ELICOS Welfare officer. One TAFE has also put in place an “Adopt a Buddy” scheme with TAFE staff members being matched with international students and contacting them twice a week, with the obligation to report to the international office if a student`s situation worsens.
TAFEs have also established dedicated webpages, including FAQs, simplified language factsheets and translations of key information, such as recognising COVID-19 symptoms. TAFEs have also been providing students with contact information for not-for-profit community groups for counselling, advice and emergency food relief and connecting students to these community groups when necessary.
Some TAFEs are running virtual information sessions, covering topics such as:
- Health and Well-Being;
- Preparation for Online Study;
- Managing Money on a Tight Budget;
- English Conversation Class;
- Exercise and Staying Fit at Home, etc.
For students who have lost their job, TAFEs have been helping find alternative employment. Some have been utilising their Jobs and Skills Centres to identify work opportunities and provide support with resume and job application writing skills for students applying for jobs. Others have been sending emails to students with information about current job opportunities in the region and how to apply (for eg hospital, farm work, supermarkets, recruitment agencies, etc).
Other support provided by TAFEs includes:
- Lending of laptops;
- Equipment and uniform hire;
- Allocation of practical kits for students to practice skills at home – for example in hospitality, beauty and fashion.