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As if we weren't humans

The abandonment of temporary migrants in Australia during COVID-19
Government subsidies Temporary migration COVID-19 Pandemics International students Wages Australia
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As if we weren't humans 2.13 MB

This report presents findings from a July online survey of 6,105 international students and visa holders, on their experiences in Australia during COVID-19.

Close to three quarters of survey respondents lost all or most of their work during the pandemic. Thousands were left unable to pay for food and rent, having been categorically excluded from government wage subsidy schemes. More than half (57%) believe their financial stress will deepen by year’s end, with one in three international students forecasting their funds will run out by October. 

This is the first study to reveal the depth of social exclusion, racism and deeper emotional consequences of Australia’s policies, which have significantly impacted Australia’s global reputation. Three in five international students and backpackers were less likely to recommend Australia as a place for study and travel, based on their treatment during COVID-19. The findings indicate potential long-term economic and diplomatic consequences of current government policies which are at odds with those of other similar countries, such as the United Kingdom, that have included temporary migrants in wage subsidies.

The report recommends the government urgently reconsider its policies. In particular, it calls upon the government to provide wage subsidies and other support to address the critical humanitarian need identified, and to repair the immediate and longer-term damage caused by Australia’s exclusion of these integral members of our community and workforce.

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