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Latin American students weigh in on the gaps of Melbourne living experience

Diana Ponce

Mon Oct 12 2015


A NEW report from community group Refuge of Hope identifies cost of living, tuition fees and lack of job opportunities as primary concerns among Latin American students. Diana Ponce has more.


Latin American community organisation Refuge of Hope has identified living expenses, education costs and lack of job opportunities as some of the common problems that Latin American international students face in their pursuit of quality education in Melbourne.

In its latest report, Refuge of Hope surveyed a mix of Australian citizens, permanent residents and international students to determine their perceptions of the Latin American experience in Melbourne.

For Javiera, a Chilean international student, she feels that “studying in Australia is ridiculously expensive”.

“I have already spent all my savings on education and may have to get a job to complete my Master’s degree,” she said.

Bunn via Flickr

Latin American students are finding it increasingly difficult to find any job for them to be able to pay off their living and study expenses. | Photo: Bunn via Flickr

Yet finding suitable employment to cover studying expenses is also difficult for Latin American students in Melbourne, as Mexican international student Eduardo discovered.

“I thought it was going to be easier to get a well-paid job, but it has been very difficult to find a job even as a waiter or as part of kitchen staff,” he said.

Despite these concerns, the majority of those surveyed also agreed that their overall experience was generally positive, citing personal safety as one of the best aspects of living in Melbourne.

“It is not easy being a woman in a country where you don’t feel safe and feel vulnerable all the time. In that sense, Melbourne has offered me a great experience and feeling safe is priceless,” Evelyn said, an international student from Ecuador.

Image supplied by Refuge of Hope

Wishing to address the concerns of Latin Americans in Melbourne, community organisation Refuge of Hope will do its part to improve the living experience of the Latin American community. | Image supplied by Refuge of Hope.

In its mission to assist Latin American immigrants, refugees and international students, Refuge of Hope wants to address the concerns of the Latin American community found its survey by increasing its focus on activities and participation for newly arrived Latin Americans within their first six months of living in Melbourne.

Refuge of Hope’s Administrative Coordinator, Antonella Di Fiori, says this new focus will ensure “a healthy process of settlement in Melbourne” for students and workers alike.

For more information on future activities and events run by Refuge of Hope, visit the organisation’s official website or Facebook page