Fair fares campaign gains momentum
CAMPAIGNERS are continuing their push to win transport concessions for international and postgraduate students in Victoria.
Around 35 representatives from 15 organisations gathered at RMIT University’s city campus on Swanston St for the Concession Card Coalition’s (CCC) first meeting last Wednesday night.
Members included students from Monash, Swinburne, RMIT and Melbourne University.
The meeting follows a fair fares protest rally – held in April, led by Melbourne University’s Graduate Student Association (GSA).
A petition signed by some 10,000 people was also handed to the State Government at the protest.
But the meeting’s convenor, GSA president Paul Coats, said the State Government remained “silent” on the issue.
“The State Government is behind the eight ball when dealing with foreign students … especially now with the recession and violence against Indian students, there just isn’t enough being done to support them,” Mr Coats said.
Electronic engineering student from Malaysia, Hanif Yaacob, said Australia compared poorly to other countries when it came to looking after its international students.
“I studied in the UK for years and international students received concession fares there,” he said.
Mr Yaacob said many of his friends in Malaysia had been “looking closely” at studying in Australia, but chose against it in the end.
“It costs so much to study here. I have a job and pay tax like everyone else, so why can’t I get concession like other students?” he said.
Federation of Indian Students of Australia spokesman Gautman Gupta, said not enough money was being pumped back into services for students from Australia’s $15.5 billion international student industry.
Mr Gupta said nearly every other country offered concession travel as a basic service, with some going as far as employing multilingual speakers at train stations to aid international students.
“Many Indians look at what Australia offers compared to other countries, and just think they’re not welcome there,” he said.
Stephen Moynihan, spokesman for public transport minister Lynne Kosky, did not respond to Meld Magazine’s queries before deadline.
The CCC is planning to hold their next protest on August 12.