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COVID-19: important updates for IDP students

As you will be aware, Australia has introduced health and safety measures and travel restrictions to prevent the spread of the novel Coronavirus.

We understand this may be confusing if you're commencing your studies, so read the below information to find out if you are impacted by the changes, and where you can go for support.

Will I be impacted?

Anyone hoping to travel to and from Australia will be impacted by the recent changes as the Australian Government announced that:

  • A travel ban will be placed on all non-residents and non-Australian citizens coming to Australia, effective from 9pm on Friday, 20 March 2020

  • all Australian and residents will be able to return and are required to self-isolate for 14 days

  • all Australians are advised to not travel overseas at this time. This is the highest advice level (level 4 of 4).

Information about Coronavirus is updated regularly, so it's important to keep up to date with latest news from Australia. 

 You can visit these websites for the latest information about the Coronavirus in Australia. 

Coronavirus Australia app and Whatsapp Feature

The Australian Government has launched an official app with the information you need to know about Coronavirus. It will assist you to get accurate and timely information about what is being done by governments around the country to support you through the difficult months ahead.

Search "Coronavirus Australia" in the Apple App Store and on Google Play to download or access the Government's WhatsApp channel.

International students in Australia

All travellers to Australia from midnight, 15 March 2020 are required to self-isolate for 14 days. Self-isolating means you're required to stay in your local accommodation. 

You’ll need to avoid going out into public spaces such as restaurants, supermarkets, workplaces, universities and any other public places that you will come into contact with people. Additionally, avoid receiving visitors into your home or local accommodation.

If you need more information on self-isolation, get more details by downloading  the Isolation Guidance information sheet from the Department of Health website. If you need to use public transport (e.g. taxis, ride-hail services, train, buses and trams.), kindly follow the precautions listed in the public transport guide.

If you're starting your studies during the time you're required to self-isolate, contact your school or university to discuss your study options. Many universities have put in place measures to assist students who are required to self-isolate, such as delayed semester starts or online study options.

If you, or any friends and family start showing flu-like symptoms such as a cough, fever, sore throat or shortness of breath, it is important to contact your local doctor. You can also monitor your symptoms using the Coronavirus (COVID-19) symptom checker. Call before you visit and explain your symptoms and travel history to ensure they are prepared to receive you.

If you require immediate and urgent medical attention, you can call 000. Any ambulance and hospital fees will be covered by your Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC).

These measures are put in place to limit the possibility of spreading the Coronavirus to the general population.

How do I get food and other essentials?

Ask others who are not in isolation to get food and other essentials for you. If you are new to the country and don’t know anyone who can help you, you can order your food and groceries online.

Food delivery and ordering apps

Menulog

Deliveroo

Uber Eats

Happy Cow (vegan and vegetarian)

Open table

Groceries

Coles

Woolworths

Will this impact my university start date?

If you're enrolled in Semester 1 2020 and unable to begin classes due to the travel bans or the 14-day self-isolation, you'll need to get in touch with your university or school as soon as possible to discuss your enrolment.

Many Australian universities have delayed their semester start dates or have put in place changes to assist international students who have been impacted by the recent travel bans.

We recommend you contact your university or school as soon as possible to discuss your possible study options or deferring your studies to start at a later date. 

If you would like more information or support, contact your IDP Counsellor at 1800 664 700 or via Zoom, Skype or WhatsApp.

You can also check out the following websites for current advice and information that may assist you:

Curtin University

Federation University

Flinders University

Go8 Universities

Griffith University

La Trobe University

Macquarie University

Monash University

Queensland University of Technology

RMIT

Swinburne University

The Australian National University

The University of Adelaide

The University of Queensland

The University of Western Australia

University of Melbourne 

University of South Australia

University of Sydney

University of Technology Sydney

University of Wollongong

UNSW

Victoria University

Western Sydney University

Changes to student accommodation

If you have arranged for student accomodation and can't travel into the country, then it's vital you check in with your student accommodation about your next steps.

Some student accommodation providers may require you to provide additional information or may change or delay your accommodation arrangements.

Where can I go for support?

The outbreak of the novel Coronavirus presents an emotionally challenging situation for many international students. The spread of the virus may be causing you or your friends and family distress or anxiety, especially if you have loved ones in affected areas or have not been able to return home or to Australia because of the recent travel bans. 

The Australian Government have created a dedicated and multi-lingual support service for international students. You can contact them via email or phone 1300 981 621 (9:00 am–5:00 pm AEDST Monday to Friday, except public holidays). 

You can also visit the Australian Government Department of Education website to download the latest information, guides and FAQs for up-to-date general health and enrolment advice, where to access support services, and news on the latest immigration and border protection measures.

If you would like more information or support, contact your IDP Counsellor at 1800 664 700 or via Zoom, Skype or WhatsApp.

You can also access the links and call the numbers below:

Support for International Students affected by the Novel Coronavirus

Novel Coronavirus FAQ for International Students

National Coronavirus Helpline

Call this 1800 020 080 if you are seeking information and advice on COVID-19. The line operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you require translating or interpreting services, call 131 450.

Wellbeing and support

The uncertainties surrounding Covid-19 could potentially affect your well-being. Feeling overwhelmed or stressed is all very natural and normal reactions to the changing situation that we all find ourselves in. The experts however, believe that resilience, community spirit and positivity can go a long way in easing the difficulties. 

Staying connected with friends and family digitally can also go a long way to alleviate stress. If you would like to get help locally, there are organisations you can reach out to:

  • The Australian Psychological Society - get advice about maintaining positive mental health during the outbreak

  • Australian Government: AIHW MHSA -  they provide information on mental health services in Australia

  • Beyond Blue has fact sheets about anxiety and offers other practical advice and resources. They also offer short term counselling and referrals by phone and webchat on 13 00 22. You can connect with others via the Beyond Blue forums thread - Coping during the coronavirus outbreak

  • Lifeline Australia – you can reach them at 13 11 14 and get access to 24-hour crisis support and suicide prevention services

  • Kids Help Line – they offer confidential and anonymous, telephone and online counselling service specifically for young people aged between 5 and 25. Phone: 1800 55 18 00

  • Headspace  - Australia’s National Youth Mental Health Foundation. They help young people who are going through a tough time

Meeting IDP counsellors

Our full suite of student placement services and support is available to you - if you have questions about how to navigate through all that's happening in Australia, course opportunities or visas, speak to us.

Call, email us or book a counselling appointment online. For your convenience,virtual appointments are also available via Zoom.

Office

Contact

Appointment

Virtual Counselling

IDP Adelaide

08 8205 1100

Book online

Zoom

IDP Brisbane

07 3020 6101

Book online

Zoom

IDP Cairns

07 3020 6101

Book online

Zoom

IDP Canberra (Virtual office)

02 8260 3300

Book online

Zoom

IDP Darwin (Virtual office)

07 3020 6101

Book online

Zoom

IDP Hobart (Virtual office)

03 9606 1800

Book online

Zoom

IDP Melbourne

03 9606 1800

Book online

Zoom

IDP Parramatta

02 8260 3326

Book online

Zoom

IDP Perth

08 9227 0102

Book online

Zoom

IDP Sydney

02 8260 3300

Book online

Zoom


International students working in Australia

The government announced on 4 April, international students who have been in Australia longer than 12-months who find themselves in financial hardship due to COVID-19 will be able to access their Australian superannuation. Students are encouraged to speak to their superannuation provider about access to funds. 

In addition, to keep up with demand, the Department of Home Affairs announced on 29 March that international students will temporarily be able to work more than 40 hours per fortnight at Australian major supermarkets, aged care facilities and hospitals. From 1 May, their hours will return to the maximum 40 hours a fortnight as more Australians are being recruited into these roles. 

Supermarkets

To keep shelves stocked, the Department of Home Affairs has announced a temporary relaxation of the 40 hour a fortnight work limit for student visa holders who work in Australia’s major supermarkets - Coles, Woolworths and Aldi retailers. 

Key points:

  • The primary activity of the business must be the supply of groceries

  • All work related to a supermarket such as deli/seafood, checkouts and trolley collectors are accepted

  • The temporary relaxation of work rights only applies to existing workers in their existing roles

  • These are temporary measures and will be reviewed by the government regularly

  • Employers will be advised in writing when these considerations no longer apply

Aged Care

COVID-19 affects older Australians more than others and this is putting a huge strain on many aged care providers and workers. International students who work in this sector are temporarily allowed to work more than 40 hours a fortnight to ensure the care of seniors and help fill critical staff shortages emerging in the sector.

Key points:

  • All aged care Approved Providers or Commonwealth funded aged care service providers that have been issued with a RACS ID or a NAPS ID have been given access to the temporary relaxation of working hours for student visa holders

  • These aged care providers should refer to the correspondence provided to them by the Department of Health for further details

  • The temporary relaxation of work rights only applies to existing workers in their existing roles

  • These are temporary measures and will be reviewed by the government regularly

  • Employers will be advised in writing when these considerations no longer apply

Nursing

About 20,000 international nursing students in Australia have had restrictions on their working hours lifted by the federal government to help and support the health effort across the country.

International nursing students can temporarily work the same number of hours as local nurses. Student visa holders already enrolled in nursing can also undertake work to help and support the health effort against COVID-19 as directed by health officials. 

Immigration South Australia: Work experience requirement (Visa 491)

The government has announced they have reduced work experience requirements for medical and health professionals working in South Australia for migration purposes. If you’re a health professional, you can apply for the visa subclass 491 without the required 3-month work experience. Other requirements such as age, language, education, skill assessment and registration remains the same.

Working rights – important terms

Course is ‘out of session’

If your course is considered “out of session”, you can work unlimited hours. Courses are considered ‘out of session’ during scheduled course breaks or if a student has finished their course as scheduled.

Studying a masters by research or a doctorate course

You may work unlimited hours, if you have commenced studying a masters by research or a doctorate course, 

Studying online

When your course study is “in session”, you cannot work more than 40 hours per fortnight, irrespective of whether you are attending classes physically or online. A course is considered ‘in session’ for the duration of the advertised semesters (including periods when exams are being held) even if the student is studying online.

Approved deferral of your course

 You can work over 40 hours per fortnight if your course has been deferred.

Changes to student visa arrangements

The government just announced a number of changes to student visa arrangements to ensure Australia remains a priority destination for international students.

These visa changes include:

  • Recommence granting student visas in all locations outside Australia
  • Students can lodge a further student visa application free of charge if they are unable to complete their studies within their original visa due to COVID-19
  • Current visa holders studying online outside of Australia can use that study to count towards the post-study work visa requirements
  • Graduates who held a student visa will be eligible to apply for a post-study work visa outside Australia if they are unable to return due to COVID-19
  • Additional time will be given for applicants to provide English language results where COVID-19 has disrupted access to these services

Changes in international flight arrangements

If you have flight arrangements in place, your plans may be affected by travel bans or cancelled flights.

Many major airlines and countries are cancelling flights or restricting entry. If you have overseas travel plans, it's important to regularly check your airline's website or contact the airline directly for next steps and travel options at a later date.

International students in other countries

For the latest information about how other countries are responding to the Coronavirus, visit the country’s government websites.

United Kingdom: National Health Service

New Zealand: Safetravel New Zealand

Canada: Government of Canada

United States: Centres for Disease Control and Prevention

Ireland: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Changes to IELTS testing

There are currently changes being made to IELTS testing. Visit the IELTS website to find out if the changes will affect you.

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