Australia’s leading international student news website

Australian rights body launches principles to protect international student rights

Hadi Ismanto

Tue Nov 20 2012


AUSTRALIA’S Human Rights Commission has released guidelines to promote and protect the human rights of international students. Hadi Ismanto reports.

Australia’s peak human rights body has released guidelines to protect the rights of international students to ensure they have a positive learning experience in the country.

The Race Discrimination Commissioner, Dr Helen Szoke, launched the Principles to promote and protect the human rights of international studentsby the government-funded Australian Human Rights Commission last month. 

“I’ve done this because we know that international students bring enormous benefits to us in Australia when they come to study here and we want to make sure that all international students understand they are entitled to the same human rights protections as anyone else who lives in Australia,” she said in a YouTube message to international students.

Dr Szoke told Meld Magazine  international students were vulnerable to rights abuses when it came to finding accomodation, accessing healthcare and using public transport.

She says international students, particularly those from Southeast Asia, were often not aware of what their rights were.

“One of the things that’s become apparent is that perhaps the international students that have come form European coutnries or North America for example had a much stronger sense of what their rights are, of what their protections are,” she says.

Besides international students, the principles are also aimed at educating workplaces and organisations that engage or provide services to international students.

Dr Szoke says the principles will help equip these companies and sectors with the right  “communication tools” when dealing with international students community.

“It reminds the sector on what their obligations are,” she says.

“The obligations aren’t just to comply, I mean there’s been lots of reforms in the sector and we think they’re really positive but it’s really to remind them that at the end of the day, the international student experience is about being a human being and being in a strange country and so they might have to think more proactively about how they actually deal with some of the issues facing international students.”

Dr Szoke says students should seek out help  from organisations such as the Australian Human Rights Commission, state ombudsmans or the Overseas Students Ombudsman if they feel these principles are not being adhered to.

“What we’re saying is that if you feel you are being exploited, contact one of these organisations and we’ll put you on the right track in terms of how you can have your rights protected,” she says.