#InThisTogether with Australian Homestay Network (AHN)
The International Student Support Network (ISSN)
Finding affordable accommodation became a major issue for international
students across Australia as the pandemic began affecting people's
livelihoods. In response, AHN developed the
International Student Support Network (ISSN).
We created the ISSN to provide discounted and short-term homestay
accommodation for vulnerable international students in Australia
experiencing hardship during COVID-19.
"An integral part of this process was working with government bodies,
industry bodies, education providers, student groups and education agents
to provide relief for at-risk students".
"We are also coordinating homestays for students who need alternative
accommodation or whose travel plans have been disrupted because of the
Supporting international students
Homestay is an accommodation option which supports international students
as they begin to build new lives in Australia. But, the benefits that
homestay provides became even more imperative as COVID-19 began affecting
student lives across the country.
"It was clear international students would struggle through the COVID-19
crisis and we knew our community could help," says AHN.
"Homestay provides the essentials - food, safe housing, emotional support
and friendship - and offering students a discounted stay until they can get
back on their feet was an obvious solution".
Homestay also works on the generosity of the Australian community, offering
homes to students in need. The ISSN has highlighted the willingness of the
Australian public to lend a hand.
Nearly 1,000 families have registered to become a host with the ISSN. This
just shows what an amazing level of compassion and kindness there is in
Stories of success
One of the first ISSN placements proved just how vital the program was for
vulnerable international students.
"An education provider had referred a student to us as she had hearing
impairment. She was in need of emotional support as she was also recently a
victim of cybercrime," says AHN.
"There were some very particular requirements for her homestay but the
local AHN team was able to find a caring and attentive host family in less
than 48 hours. The student stayed with her hosts for a little over a month
until she was able to catch her scheduled flight home".
Another example is of international student Sadman Oshan who was struggling
with the financial and mental health impacts of the pandemic.
"Oshan reached out to AHN for help as he was desperately trying to find
somewhere to live. He was running out of money and the situation was
impacting his mental health," says AHN.
"He'd used all his savings and most of his superannuation to pay for rent
and food during the first few weeks of lockdown. The $500 grant from his
university went towards his fees".
"Our Sydney team quickly connected Oshan with a host family and he settled
in well - he's even getting along with the families maltese dog and he's
afraid of dogs".
The importance of the international students
AHN is dedicated to ensuring international students get the most out of
their time in Australia.
"Making sure international students have a positive experience of Australia
and are taken care of is always a priority for us," says AHN.
"Supporting international students in their time of need shows we
appreciate them and the valuable contribution they make to our country".
"They have an extraordinary impact on our cultural and social diversity and
they're fantastic ambassadors for Australia. International students support
Australian livelihoods and enrich our local communities".