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Unions NSW demands better housing and equal travel subsidies for international students amid cost-of-living crisis

Unions NSW 2 mins read

Unions NSW has called for reforms to housing and transport to ease the heavier cost of living burden being shouldered by international students.

"Our data paints a grim reality of exploitation and hardship among temporary migrant workers, with international students facing the brunt of the housing crisis," Unions NSW Assistant Secretary Thomas Costa said.

"It is high time that educational institutions step up to provide adequate housing and that the NSW government extends travel concessions to international students, ensuring parity with other students."

Unions NSW has been at the forefront of defending migrant workers' rights through initiatives such as the Visa Assist Program, in partnership with the Immigration Advice and Rights Centre (IARC), providing over 2,000 legal services since its inception. Extensive research by Unions NSW shows temporary migrant workers are disproportionately affected by underpayment and are often compelled to accept substandard living conditions.

In one example collected by Unions NSW a 27-year-old finance student  found herself paying $300 a week for a tent in a living room due to exorbitant rental prices. The recent 14% increase in rent for new tenants, as reported by the ABS, has  exacerbated the situation, leading to severe mental and physical health issues among students.

"Temporary migrants contributed $29 billion to the Australian economy in 2022," Costa said. "Yet, they are met with reinstated caps on work hours and a lack of  support services. Universities and the government must act to avert a deepening of this crisis."

Unions NSW recommends the establishment of migrant worker centres in each state for workplace rights advice, the reconsideration of work hour restrictions on student visas, and the extension of travel subsidies to international students, who are currently excluded from such benefits in NSW.

"More than 2.5 million workers on visas face the frontline of this cost-of-living crisis and we can not ignore their plight.

"Equal rights and support for all workers are crucial for a fair and thriving society."

Thomas Costa 0435 964 750

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