IN response to rampant workplace exploitation, the Victorian Government has pledged $300,000 to strengthen and support the welfare of international students studying in the state. Amber Ziye Wang has more.
The Victorian Government has announced a $300,000 funding investment to strengthen international student welfare, in light of recent work scandals surrounding students who have been overworked and underpaid.
Victorian Minister for Training and Skills, Steve Herbert announced the package during a recent visit to the Study Melbourne Student Centre.
“The Andrews Labor Government will not stand by and watch students get exploited,” Mr Herbert said.
“This $300,000 package will help students get the support they need.”
Acknowledging the ongoing issue of workplace exploitation within the international student community, $150,000 will be allocated towards free legal services at the centre and an integrated campaign to improve students’ understanding of their workplace rights.
The announcement follows recent media coverage of international worker exploitation from employers who had paid students below the minimum wage and required them to work more than their legally required hours. A joint investigation into 7-Eleven stores this year found a systemic underpayment of wages to thousands of workers within the country’s biggest convenience store chain.
A further $152,000 in grants from the State Government has also been allocated to support other projects and initiatives for international students. These include grants in the fields of education, sports and culture and a commitment to support the City of Melbourne’s Student Welcome Desk at Melbourne Airport.
The funding is part of fast-tracking the delivery of the Andrews Labor Government’s election commitment for the $4 million International Student Welfare Grants program.
“International students come to Melbourne to study and are a long way from home, family and friends. It’s crucial that we support these often vulnerable students to have a positive experience and avoid exploitation.” Mr Herbert said.
International education is Victoria’s largest services export with more than 150,000 international students studying in the state and supports 30,000 jobs.