NSW Shadow Minister for Tertiary Education Clayton Barr has criticised the Berejiklian Government for taking too long to announce relief measures for international students after a $20 million temporary housing scheme was announced yesterday in a hearing of the Public Accounts Committee.
The announcement comes after weeks of inaction from the Berejiklian Government where NSW had the dubious honour of being the only jurisdiction in Australia to not provide any relief for international students who had lost their incomes and were unable to return home due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
But the package does nothing to address the serious cost of living pressures faced by international students that have lost their livelihoods and are ineligible for both Jobkeeper and Jobseeker.
“I’ve spoken to students who have had to walk up to eight kilometres each way for the one meal that they have each day. They can’t afford food, they can’t afford transport”, Mr Barr said.
“The Berejiklian Government simply hasn’t done enough. This package pales in comparison to the relief measures announced by Victoria which made sure international students had money to feed themselves with. In NSW, community groups have had to step in and help because the Berejiklian Government won’t step up.”
The Government’s inaction also has serious implications for the education sector across NSW with many stakeholders expressing concern that international students would not return to NSW after being left to fend for themselves by the Berejiklian Government.
“The damage that the Berejiklian Government has done to the sector will be felt for at least three to five years”, Mr Barr said.
“Education is one of the big drivers of the NSW economy, but the Berejiklian Government seems not to care. Why will students want to come back to study in NSW after being left to fend for themselves?”