International students supported with $200,000 in vouchers

The City of Melbourne will invest $200,000 in retail vouchers to support international students impacted by COVID-19 and boost trade at the Queen Victoria Market.

The ‘Our Shout’ retail voucher program will support international students affected by job losses and housing insecurity with access to vouchers worth up to $200 each to spend at Queen Victoria Market.

“We are a caring city and we need to look after each other. We know many students are isolated and far from home. We have a responsibility to make sure they can make ends meet and continue to feel welcomed and included in our community,” Lord Mayor Sally Capp said.

“The COVID-19 crisis has had a devastating impact on this group and on Victoria’s international student economy, which is worth $9.1 billion a year. We’re responding with direct stimulus to support students and provide a revenue boost for Queen Victoria Market traders.

“As we move towards reopening our economy we must step up and keep supporting our education sector.” 

International students can apply for vouchers on the City of Melbourne website. The vouchers will be available for collection from Melbourne Town Hall from Tuesday 26 May. 

The City of Melbourne is holding a virtual workshop on international education today and will soon unveil its support for the knowledge sector economy as part of its draft Annual Plan and Budget 2020-21.

International Engagement portfolio Chair Councillor Philip Le Liu, said Melbourne’s international students have been amongst the hardest hit by COVID-19, and are in desperate need of support.

“Thousands of international students live in our municipality – many of whom have lost their jobs and have little access to government support. Our food voucher program is a simple but effective way we can help make this time less stressful,” Cr Le Liu said.

“We must protect our education institutions and create a platform for recovery so that international students feel welcomed and supported in Melbourne.

“We will also invest $200,000 in our Startup Action Plan, as we continue to enhance the skills of local startups and promote Melbourne as a great place to start, grow and go global with a business.”

Chair of the Knowledge City portfolio Councillor Dr Jackie Watts said the freeze on travel for international students has damaged Melbourne’s knowledge economy.

“The COVID-19 crisis has had a profound adverse impact on our tertiary education sector. Our top-tier universities attract hundreds of thousands of international students each year,” Dr Watts said.

“The participation of students in so many aspects of city life makes Melbourne a truly global knowledge city.

“The knowledge sector accounts for almost two out of three jobs in Melbourne. Consequently, we are funding programs and events to engage with and promote innovators, entrepreneurs, startups and established businesses in this sector at all levels.

“While we had to postpone the immensely popular annual event, Melbourne Knowledge Week, we will invest $1.5 million on next year’s event to showcase ideas for a smart and innovative city with the wider community.

“We will invest $1 million on renewing and maintaining our traditional and digital library collections, and a further $180,000 to upgrade Southbank Library. Libraries are crucial to our community as shown by the up-surge in digital library services during COVID-19.”

Public submissions on the draft Annual Plan and Budget 2020-21 are open from Wednesday 20 May until 5pm on Wednesday 17 June 2020.