Supporting temporary visa holders through COVID-19

28th April 2020

On Wednesday 8 April 2020, the $130 billion JobKeeper package passed in Parliament giving 6 million Australian workers some sense of relief in the uncertain times of COIVD-19. But for workers on temporary visas there was no such assistance.

Watch 'Coping through COVID-19 - a live discussion'

Almost a month on and we are yet to see any support for temporary visa holders from the federal government leaving many feeling let down by a country and economy they’ve been contributing to.

The government’s message to temporary and student visa holders has been clear: if you can go home, you should.

This has been devastating to those who think of Australia as their home. We seem quick to forget that workers on temporary visa’s often have family or partners in Australia and have built a life for themselves here. Then there’s the economic contribution they’ve made to Australia through taxes as well as the cultural contribution they’ve made to our multicultural community. There’s a lot of talk from politicians about how much Australia values its multicultural society, now is our chance to prove how much we really value the cultural contribution from international workers.

The other issue that seems to have been ignored by the government is that many temporary visa holders can’t actual ‘go home’ at this time. Borders are closed and the flights that are operating do so at huge expense to passengers, meaning this option is out of reach for many. That leaves over 1 million temporary visa holders stuck in Australia, without work, without access to health care, and no other means of support.

The lack of support not only leaves temporary visa holders who have lost work in financial hardship, but the emotional toll will be high. The anxiety and stress caused by loss of income is a feeling we can all relate to. Combine that with feeling let down by a society you’ve been a contributing member of and the feelings of despair only increase.

For those who also don’t have a support network in Australia, the feeling of isolation can be overwhelming.

While we continue to work closely with the government and push for the Ministers responsible to expand the eligibility of both the JobSeeker and JobKeeper support packages, we also want to provide emotional support to temporary visa holders in Australia.

Staying connected has never been more important, whether that’s keeping in touch with friends and family over zoom or a quick phone call to a colleague to touch base. Talking about how we’re surviving through this period of isolation can help create a sense of solidarity at a time when our physical communities are out of reach.

To continue to foster these online communities and keep conversations going, this Wednesday we’ll be hosting a live discussion with Julie Vlassis Cooke, the founder of Flourish Abroad. We’ll be discussing what support is available to temporary visa holders during this time, both financial and emotional, as well as helping to grow online networks.

Throughout the coronavirus crisis Julie has been supporting expats through feelings of anxiety and isolation and helping connect them with other expats experiencing similar issues.

If you're looking for support services Julie has put together a list of resources - flourishabroad.com/resources

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