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In Solidarity with our International Students

To all the Australian startups, businesses & organisations who avoid hiring someone with an accent or include “permanent resident only” – Let us break down the impact of this attitude for you and our shared future.

International students create 250 000 jobs for Aussies (not just in the education sector). That is more than the mining, telecommunications, electricity/gas sector, and equivalent to the whole arts sector.

There are 90 000 graduate visa holders in Australia right now. They are no longer students and have no access to support from any of the things Australians do – no Jobseeker, no Centrelink and no free Medicare (they pay for private healthcare).

So many opportunities from Not For Profits, businesses and startups include “must be an Australian citizen”. We urge you if you are responsible for a grant-making institution or an employer to be more inclusive. The narrative they “they should take care of themselves” will hurt our wonderful country in the future. There is room for all of us. Indeed the local government in Victoria is well aware of this challenge in perception, recently opening up a grant round of up to $185 00 for startups to “strengthen social and community connections for international students studying and living in Victoria.”

A recent article in The Conversation by Deakin University academic and Forbes 50 most influential women of Vietnam Ly Tran highlights the importance of international students to Australia. “

“There are nearly 90,000 temporary graduate visa holders in Australia. International graduates on temporary visas rely solely on wage income to cover their living expenses. These visa holders mainly work in industries that have suffered major losses, such as hospitality, and they are not entitled to the JobKeeker payment.”

We must stand in #solidarity with our international students and graduates whether they live in Australia or not. We can and must do better. They matter to us and it saddens us that for Australians to understand this we’re forced to talk in economic terms. As a centre we uphold values of human dignity and respect above all, yes International students and graduates bring economic value but they bring so much more – entrepreneurialism, creativity, knowledge, and contribution to all aspects of our communities just by being here.

We are inspired by the work of organisations such as the North American Association of Indian Students led by Sudhanshu Kaushik and brilliant international students we have got to know over the years. Many have gone on to do deeply impactful work. We would like to highlight them here:

  • Belle Limorganiser of the phenomenal upcoming Future Female conference and Cancer Researcher at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre
  • Diletta Legowo – Founder of Sana-Sini, SPARK Deakin Marketing and Partnerships Coordinator and a World Economic Forum Global Shaper behind the campaign #NotTooYoungToRun which encourages young Victorians (Australian citizens) to run for council positions.
  • Ayush JainCrowdfunding Coach at StartSomeGood (an Aussie startup)
  • Balli Jaswalauthor, whose book made it to Reese Witherspoon’s book club and sold thousands of copies worldwide – Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows.

We stand in solidarity with our international student and graduate community. We urge you to consider ways in which you can support starting with change hiring practices to be more inclusive, recognise your bias and stand up.

As Hamilton reminds us “if you stand for nothing Burr, what will you fall for?” Now is not the time to remain a bystander, it’s the time to speak up and act in solidarity with our community. The standard you walk past is the standard you accept.